JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – On Thursday (Aug. 27) Missouri lawmakers are conducting a public forum regarding state-backed bonding for a second football stadium in St. Louis.
The stadium project is an ill-advised attempt to keep the Rams in St. Louis or attract another NFL franchise. Rams owner Stan Kroenke says he has purchased land in Inglewood, Calif., and he has unveiled plans for an enormous new stadium there.
I was the lone vote on the Missouri Development Finance Board against the issuance of the first installment of what eventually will be $50 million in tax credits for a new football stadium in St. Louis. I am against this proposal for a couple of reasons.
This proposal was put together, largely in secrecy, without a single vote by a public body that is accountable to voters. Instead, acting on his own, Governor Nixon proposes to issue 30 more years of new debt without legislative approval. In St. Louis, the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority, which owns the Edward Jones Dome, wants to extend city bonds – again, without a public vote, going so far as to sue to overturn an ordinance requiring that vote.
A quarter-century ago, the bonds in question were passed to fund the Edward Jones Dome, not a new riverfront facility. To extend those bonds and issue new debt not only is, in my view, illegal, it fosters cynicism among voters who already are reluctant to trust government officials with their money.
Proponents of the new stadium claim it is a tremendous redevelopment opportunity in a blighted area. If they are so confident of this, they should make their case to the voters and to their elected representatives. It is a terrible precedent to proceed down this road without action and approval by those who are accountable to voters. To barge ahead with this proposal without voters’ consent is short-sighted and reckless.
By Peter D. Kinder
Missouri Lieutenant Governor