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Missouri lawmakers shaky on Rams proposal

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s elected officials aren’t going to be quick to approve public funding for a new Rams stadium, lawmakers say, despite the “urgency” of the project.

Last week, Dave Peacock, a former president of Anheuser-Busch, presented the basics of a proposal put together by Peacock and Edward Jones Dome attorney Bob Blitz. Estimated costs for the stadium range from $860-985 million, with roughly half of the funds coming from both the National Football League and the Rams organization.

But the other half of the project will likely need public sources, and that’s where Missouri’s elected officials may take issue with the project. Peacock told reporters last week that extending existing bonds and brownfield tax credits, along with potentially $130 million in seat licenses, would fund the project.


House Speaker John Diehl, R-Town and Country, said he was optimistic that St. Louis would remain an NFL city, but said it was a “long, drawn out process” in an interview on This Week In Missouri Politics.

“I think there are a couple of principles that we’ve heard over the last week that is generally I think the right approach, number one is we’re not going to get into a bidding war with another city and be used as a stocking horse…number two, the laws under the City and County of St. Louis are pretty clear. If those governments participate in the financing of a professional sports facility it requires a vote of the people of those jurisdictions. Number three, I think it will be very, very difficult to move state funding in a stadium bill through the general assembly. I haven’t heard that proposed yet, but I think if it were proposed it would be difficult to do.”

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, a Democrat whose district contains both the existing Edward Jones dome, as well as the site of the proposed new stadium, said last week in a statement that keeping the Rams was a priority that she optimistically believed could be accomplished, but that she would not support massive public funds for the project if it could be avoided.

“St. Louis should have the opportunity to vote on any proposal that would reduce revenue or expend taxpayer dollars toward this end,” Nasheed said. “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. I will not support any proposal that amounts to a ‘blank check’ at the taxpayers’ expense.”

Any proposal including state-funded tax credits or extending certain bonds would likely need action from Missouri’s state officials, some of whom are wary of new public spending. Rep. Caleb Rowden, newly minted Chairman of the House Committee on Economic Development and Business Attraction and Retention, said he didn’t see an “easy path” for a proposal featuring hefty public spending.

“We are still very early in the process and there are a lot of variables left to be spelled out,” Rowden said. “While I certainly believe no one in the General Assembly wants to see the Rams move to Los Angeles, we also have a bigger picture responsibility of protecting taxpayers and their hard-earned tax dollars. I look forward to hearing more from the Governor and other stakeholders as we move ahead.”