Nixon Pushes To Keep St. Louis An NFL City
Nothing ventured ... a lot to lose.
That was the message from Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon Tuesday morning, as he touted efforts to build a new football stadium in St. Louis.
"If we do nothing, then we’re not an NFL city. If we do nothing then $10 million in taxes is gone. If we do nothing then people will stand right here 10 years from now and that will look exactly like it looks right there," Nixon said during a news conference on St. Louis’ north riverfront near the proposed stadium site.
Significant progress has been made in advancing the project, according to the governor. He announced that Ameren Missouri has agreed to move transmission towers and that the Terminal Railroad Association will move railroad tracks if the stadium plan moves forward. Getting those agreements removes big hurdles, the governor said.
"When you’re talking about a site and getting a site ready that has issues involving railroad lines and power stations, those are basically the two hardest things of infrastructure to deal with," he said. "These folks can never have a break in service."
Terminal Railroad Association president Mike McCarthy said moving the tracks is workable and could be done with minimal interruption to service. McCarthy said TRRA has been in St. Louis for 125 years and wants to see economic development.
"A strong St. Louis is really important to us and that was our motivation to see if we could help out," McCarthy said.
The cost of moving the tracks would be about $3 million dollars. It would cost just under $20 million for Ameren Missouri to move its transmission towers and power lines. Those costs would be included in the stadium project’s total cost.
The Rams now have a year-to-year lease with the Edward Jones Dome and are free to leave at the end of next season. Team owner Stan Kroenke has unveiled plans to build an 80,000-seat stadium in Inglewood, Calif., about 12 miles from downtown Los Angeles.
The governor said that if the Rams leave, it would mean the state would lose about $10 million in income taxes that NFL players pay each year. He said it would also be a hit to St. Louis’ regional economy and to civic pride.
The proposed stadium couldcost between $860 million to $985 million, to be paid for through a public-private partnership. The plans call for a 64,000-seat, open-air arena that could also be used for professional soccer.
"Our job is to make sure that we’re in the best position possible to keep the Rams or whatever NFL franchise may or may not be here," Nixon said.
Meanwhile, the governor said he has spoken with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently. He said the commissioner has continued to give positive feedback on the efforts in St. Louis.
"That’s important because we’re going to need the NFL and the team to show us that they’re willing to make a substantial investment in making this work and on terms that will benefit not only the citizens of the region, but all Missourians," Nixon said.
Backers of the proposed new stadium say it would be funded by numerous sources, including private investment and a possible extension of the bond currently used to pay for the Edward Jones Dome. Missouri legislative leaders have signaled they will not support much in the way of state aid.
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