St. Louis won’t get into bidding war over Rams

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) – St. Louis city officials say they will not be drawn into a bidding war with Los Angeles, even with Rams owner Stan Kroenke reportedly engaged in a deal to build a stadium in L.A.

Kroenke’s venture was disclosed in a Los Angeles Times article published Monday.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay’s Chief of Staff, Jeff Rainford, said the city should “stay the course” in its research of a possible new stadium on the riverfront rather than worry about what the Rams owner is doing.

“We are very early in a long process and the process is not so much chasing Stan Kroenke and the Rams as it is demonstrating what we’re willing to do to be an NFL city and like I said, what we’re not willing to do,” Rainford said in an interview Monday.

Guidelines for a new stadium were laid out in November by Governor Jay Nixon when he appointed former Anheuser-Busch President Dave Peacock and local attorney Bob Blitz to come up with a proposal for a venue.

The proposal is to contain no new fees or taxes, a major financial contribution would be required from the team owner, and a blighted area would have to be redeveloped with more than just a football stadium.  The area immediately north of the Lumiere Place Casino along the Mississippi is reportedly the spot being considered.

Rainford says the Rams are not the city’s only option with the stadium proposal.

“If you’ve noticed the rhetoric, which a lot of people have not, it’s switched from what are we going to for the Rams to what are we going to do to remain an NFL city,” he said.  “Where that ends up, which team it is, which owner it is, I think that’s foggy right now.   But the bottom line is St. Louis has everything to be a strong NFL city and I think conversely the NFL views St. Louis as a very strong city.”

Peacock and Blitz did not take questions on the Kroenke move in Los Angeles, but did issue a statement Monday afternoon.  It read as follows:

“The news today is another reminder of how much competition there can be for National Football League franchises and projects that include NFL stadiums, but it does not change our timeline or approach.  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.  We are ready to demonstrate our commitment to keeping the NFL here, and to continue to illustrate why St. Louis has been and will always be a strong NFL market.  We will present a plan to Governor Nixon this Friday as scheduled, and we expect that it will meet his criteria, thereby allowing us to share our vision with the public shortly thereafter.  In the meantime, we will continue to have discussions with the NFL, as well as Rams leadership.

Many business leaders think it’s important to keep the NFL in St. Louis.  Commercial real estate mogul Jim Sansone, Principal of the Sansone Group, says he’s hopeful the city will go forward with a stadium, whether the Rams stay or go.  He says losing pro football would be a “step backward” for a city trying to draw young minds.

“The young people and the visitors bring vitality to our city.  It’s what our future is, of course, and we need to have those attractions in order to attract the kind of people we want to have here in St. Louis and to shop in our stores and work in our businesses and help create a better economy for our area and our region.”

Governor Jay Nixon's statement:

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Gov. Jay Nixon today released the following statement regarding the St. Louis Rams:

“St. Louis is an NFL city and I am committed to keeping it that way,” said Gov. Nixon. “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.”