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The Dome’s Future Rests On NFL Lawsuit, Convention Center Plans

File photo / Jason Rosenbaum
St. Louis Public Radio
The Dome opened in 1995 at a cost of $280 million.

Millions of dollars is at stake in local authorities’ lawsuit against Stan Kroenke and the National Football League. That litigation is set to be heard by a St. Louis jury next January, provided it's not dismissed by the judge or settled first.

And alongside the legal determination of whether Kroenke and the league deceived St. Louis officials as they relocated the Rams to Los Angeles is another multimillion-dollar question, writes Jacob Kirn: What about the Dome?

Jacob Kirn, economic development editor of the St. Louis Business Journal
Evie Hemphill
St. Louis Public Radio
Jacob Kirn, economic development editor of the St. Louis Business Journal

Kirn is the economic development editor of the St. Louis Business Journal. And as he details in a recent story, the 26-year-old structure where the Rams once played has just $6 million in the bank and annual maintenance needs in the millions of dollars.

Critically, the $280 million facility is set to lose its main source of financial support: The tax agreement that has long subsidized its maintenance will expire in less than three years. Some people now say the Dome should be torn down.

But others, including supporters of St. Louis’ convention business, would like to see even more money go into the structure. Bob Clark, CEO of Clayton-based Clayco, has proposed subbing in an $800 million convention center upgrade for the $210 million plan now on the table. He’d like to see both America’s Center and the Dome razed and replaced by a bigger, more unified structure.

Kirn joined St. Louis on the Air on Friday to discuss the Dome’s financial realities and the uncertain economics underlying the convention business in 2021.

Exploring the Dome's Future
Jacob Kirn of the St. Louis Business Journal discusses his reporting on St. Louis on the Air

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Sarah Fenske served as host of St. Louis on the Air from July 2019 until June 2022. Before that, she spent twenty years in newspapers, working as a reporter, columnist and editor in Cleveland, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles and St. Louis.