CLAYTON, MO (KPLR) - There were big concerns about the future of the NFL in St. Louis Tuesday after St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger said the county would not be helping with funding for a new stadium.
It was Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s call, he said.
A spokesman for the governor later issued a clarification.
“Certainly I’m fully supportive of keeping the Rams here in St. Louis,” Stenger said on the KPLR 11 show The Pulse of St. Louis less than two weeks ago.
There are concerns now about just how “fully supportive” he really is.
As far he knew it was the governor’s idea to cut the county out of funding for the close to billion dollar riverfront stadium development, he said.
“No, I don’t believe it’s a deal killer,” Stenger told FOX 2.
Money from the county for an extension of the bonds for the Edward Jones Dome would have come from taxes county residents don’t pay: hotel-motel taxes passed specifically for stadium funding, which currently brings in about $10million a year.
The county pays out $6 million in bond payments on the dome and $2.5 to $3 million a year for payments on the new Busch Stadium. So, the taxes currently generate “net” revenue for the county of $1million - $2million a year, according to the St. Louis County Budget Director.
FOX 2 asked Stenger why continuing funding wouldn’t be a good deal for taxpayers: making money for the county without county residents paying a dime while creating jobs and giving the region an economic boost with new stadium construction.
“I’m not making any comment on whether it’s a good deal or it’s not,” he said. “The only thing I’m saying is that the governor communicated to my office last week is that St. Louis County does not need to participate financially.”
But in a statement emailed to FOX 2, Nixon spokesman Scott Holste implied funding was still needed just not for the new stadium portion of the plan.
“We continue to make progress on a clear path forward to build a new stadium in St. Louis, consistent with the principles the Governor has laid out including protecting taxpayers, creating jobs and revitalizing a distressed area. Many of the options being considered include a plan to maintain and maximize the value of the existing dome and convention center. The role for St. Louis County relates to their continued support of the existing dome and convention center, which must remain an important asset to the region,” Holste said.
Insiders have said the plan for the new stadium includes a 30 year extension of dome bonds through the year 2051.
Stadium task force co-leader Dave Peacock issued a statement saying:
“We have studied numerous financing proposals over the past month and anticipate considering additional financing concepts in the weeks ahead. In short, just as the stadium design has evolved over the past several months and will continue to progress, so too will the process to determine the appropriate financing plan to bring this project to life. We continue to build excellent momentum but what remains the same is the positive impact a new riverfront stadium will have on our economy, in the creation of jobs and ensuring that St. Louis remains an NFL city, today and always.”
Organized labor leaders who supported Stenger’s election and stood with Nixon in announcing a deal to work around the clock and forego most overtime to cut project costs, publicly take Stenger at his word. They seriously doubt he’ll be the one to stop the stadium deal.
“There hasn’t been anything this big ever, as far as I know,” said Pat White, President of the Greater St. Louis Labor Council, referring to the magnitude of a single construction project.
“We’re talking about 1500 or more jobs working a multi-year project around the clock, that kind of money being injected into the area… there would be less folks sitting down – and working good paying union jobs, which in turn they inject it back into the area,” White said.
“I would love to have an NFL team in St. Louis,” Stenger insisted.
“This isn’t you pulling out?” asked FOX 2’s Andy Banker. “Saying I’m not on board with this?”
“Oh no,” Stenger said. “Certainly if things need to be revisited we’re always open for discussions and for further discussions…we’d have to take a look at that.”
Sources said the issue would be revisited very soon.