Missouri Governor Announces "Serious" Effort To Keep Rams In St. Louis
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon this morning announced on a "'serious' effort to keep the Rams ... in St. Louis" amid continuing rumors that the team could relocate to L.A., according to David Hunn of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Nixon appointed former A-B President David Peacock and Robert Blitz, an attorney for the Edward Jones Dome authority, "to lead a 60-day analysis of options." Nixon during a conference call said, "The NFL understands we are very serious here. We are prepared to look at serious options to make sure we stay an NFL city." Hunn reports the governor did not say whether he has met with Rams Owner Stan Kroenke or "how much money he thinks it will take to keep the Rams" in town. Nixon did say that he "expected private investment into any effort, be it an overhaul of the Edward Jones Dome, or a new open-air stadium on the riverfront downtown, as has been reported as an option" (STLTODAY.com, 11/5). In St. Louis, Brian Feldt notes the 60-day analysis comes in advance of Jan. 28, the "deadline for the Rams to notify the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, which owns and operates the Edward Jones Dome, on whether they'll move to a year-to-year lease." Nixon said, "We're taking proactive steps to make sure that we are moving forward here" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 11/5). While no specific stadium details were announced today, the POST-DISPATCH's Jim Thomas cites sources as saying that "such plans will be made public by the end of the calendar year." The current plan to replace Edward Jones Dome "seems to be to construct an outdoor stadium, with space for large surface parking lots as well." The team "has yet to see any form of stadium design plans from the city/region" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 11/5).
HURDLES STILL REMAIN: In N.Y., Ken Belson writes "significant hurdles remain" in St. Louis' bid to keep the Rams. Given the experience of NFL teams in Atlanta, Minneapolis and elsewhere, a new stadium for the Rams "could easily top" $1B, and no financing "has been identified." Like other NFL owners, Kroenke "could demand revenue from parking, naming rights and nonfootball-related events that might otherwise be used to cover construction costs." The city, county and state now spend $24M a year to "pay off the bonds on the Edward Jones Dome, which was built two decades ago to attract an NFL team to St. Louis." Coalition Against Public Funding for Stadiums member Fred Lindecke said that politicians now "are wary of writing another blank check to a wealthy sports owner." Since the dome opened in '95, "nearly every other team has upgraded its stadium or moved into a new home." The dome "has been improved over the years, but by NFL standards it is an outdated building." But Rams Exec VP/Football Operations & COO Kevin Demoff in a recent radio interview said that no decision "has been made about whether to move the Rams" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/5).