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After Report Of An L.A. Stadium Deal, Nixon Promises Response To Keep Rams In St. Louis

A new stadium planned for downtown Los Angeles could have implications for the fate of the St. Louis Rams, who can break their lease on the Edward Jones Dome in 2014 unless upgrades are made.
via Wikimedia Commons
A new stadium planned for downtown Los Angeles could have implications for the fate of the St. Louis Rams, who can break their lease on the Edward Jones Dome in 2014 unless upgrades are made.

Amid reports that the team’s owner plans to build a stadium close to Los Angeles, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said a plan should be revealed this week that aims to keep the Rams in St. Louis. 

The Los Angeles Times reported on Monday that Rams owner Stan Kroenke “joined forces” with the Stockbridge Capital Group to build an 80,000-seat stadium in Inglewood, California. The paper reported that developers promised not to use tax dollars to build the stadium, which would require a vote from city residents.

“After nearly a decade of collaborating with Inglewood city leaders and residents on the redevelopment of Hollywood Park, we are excited to unveil an expanded plan that will bring a world-class sports and entertainment district to Hollywood Park,” said Terry Fancher, founder of Stockbridge, in a statement.“We are committed to working with [The Kroenke Group] to build a project that will put Inglewood back on the map as the home of truly great sports and entertainment venues.”

The Times’ report is the latest twist in the Rams’ possible departure from St. Louis. Although the NFL ruled out the possibility of a team playing in Los Angeles next season, the Rams could opt to take on a year-to-year arrangement on the Edward Jones Dome. 

Nixon tapped former Anheuser Busch CEO Dave Peacock and attorney Bob Blitz"to conduct an analysis over the next 60 days of the current situation regarding the St. Louis Rams and provide a briefing to the governor on options to ensure that St. Louis remains an NFL city for years to come."

In a statement, the governor said: “St. Louis is an NFL city and I am committed to keeping it that way.”

“I look forward to reviewing the recommendations from Dave Peacock and Bob Blitz later this week and working with the St. Louis community to put forward a plan that’s consistent with our principles of protecting taxpayers, creating jobs, and making significant use of private investment to clean up and revitalize underutilized areas,” Nixon said.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch received a statement from Peacock and Blitz that said: “It is important to remember this will be a long-term process, but one that the State of Missouri and the St. Louis region are fully pledged to seeing through.”

Other political leaders from St. Louis struck a similar tone to Nixon.

For instance, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay — who will be on “St. Louis on the Air” on Wednesday — put out two Tweets on the subject:

State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, said in a statement that “the benefits of having an NFL franchise in our city are not strictly financial, and I acknowledge and appreciate that the St. Louis Rams are a point of great pride for those in the 5th Senatorial District and throughout the entire St. Louis region.” 

Credit Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis Public Radio
State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis

“I am optimistic that we will be able to reach an agreement to ensure the benefits of this relationship continue for years to come,” Nasheed stated. “My office and I will be closely involved in evaluating any proposals aimed at this objective. I anticipate many conversations on this topic over the next few months.”

Nasheed, however, stressed: “I will not support any proposal that amounts to a ‘blank check’ at the taxpayers’ expense.” The Edward Jones Dome was financed through bonds paid for by St. Louis, St. Louis County and the state of Missouri.

“During these conversations, I will emphasize to all parties that this debate must be undertaken fairly, and democratically,” Nasheed said. “I believe that the people of St. Louis should have the opportunity to vote on any proposal that would reduce revenue or expend tax-payer dollars toward this end. It is also important to concern ourselves with fiscal responsibility on the same terms in this debate as in other debates that may enjoy less visibility.”

The Rams played in Los Angeles for decades until they moved to St. Louis in 1995. Since both the Rams and Raiders left Los Angeles, a number of teams have been linked to speculation about moving there — perhaps as a way to exhort the financing of new stadiums in the home cities.

In addition to the Rams, the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers have been mentioned as teams that could eventually move to Los Angeles.

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Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.