New riverfront stadium – who pays for it?

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – The underdeveloped St. Louis riverfront between Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge and Laclede’s Landing would be home to the new stadium, its parking lots, as well as some recreational spaces.

Not only would the stadium turn an eyesore into a sports attraction, developers think the blighted area would qualify for some revenue help from existing development programs.

The stadium, designed by architectural firm HOK, promises a stunning addition to the riverfront, an attraction that would complement the redevelopment of the Arch grounds, and one that could bring crowds back to Laclede’s Landing.

“We’ve turned our back on the river for such a long time, now we’re starting to look towards the river again,” said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. “I think that’s all positive.”

But as attractive as it looks, the question remains: where will the funding come from? Missouri legislators made it perfectly clear earlier this week taxpayers are tapped out.

“I doubt if there is an appetite to do public money for that,” said State Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard, (R-32nd District). “We have education issues…highway issues, infrastructure issues for buildings.”

Even Missouri House Speaker John Diehl, who is from St. Louis County, is waving caution flags.

“We’re not gonna get involved in a bidding war in this general assembly to do that,” he said.

According to the plan, just under half of the nearly $1 billion price tag would come from the NFL and a football team owner, who would lease the stadium.

Mayor Slay approves of the idea.

“This one has a $400 million to $450 million private investment component, which is a big deal, and I think it is a reasonable request,” he said. “We’re planning on no new taxes. It would be done with existing revenue streams.”

Local taxes on hotel rooms and restaurants currently help fund the mortgage top the Edward Jones Dome, where the Rams are playing at present. The new stadium would need those dollars to pay off a new set of bonds.

“We’re not asking the general public, either in the city or the county or the state, to pay additional taxes,” Slay said.