ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – Missouri Governor Jay Nixon played offense Monday in the quest to build a new Riverfront football stadium and keep the NFL in St. Louis.
He said not a scoop of dirt would not be turned until there was a long term commitment from the NFL.
He also said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell continued to praise St. Louis for quickly and concretely developing a plan using existing public revenue streams with no new taxes.
He said the likelihood of the NFL pushing up the deadline for stadium proposals from the three cities where teams were considering relocation, St. Louis, San Diego, and Oakland, to October, appeared to be partly the result of St. Louis speeding up the pace.
Nixon pushed up the deadline for a finalized deal in St. Louis to August.
“The bottom line is we’re at crunch time here to make sure we’ve got a unified approach and to get this done. We need to get it done this summer,” Nixon told FOX 2.
He also said only the NFL could kill the proposal for the close to billion dollar stadium.
He said the lawsuit from 6 state legislators seeking to stop public funding for the stadium was baseless; the law was on his side and the 6 legislators knew it.
The lawmakers contend the governor and the state board (RSA) overseeing the Edward Jones Dome are overstepping their authority with a plan to extend about $229 million in bonds for the dome to cover part of the cost of the new stadium project.
He said the plan was well within the confines of the law.
“Our lawyers, the team of lawyers working on this just don’t have a lot of patience for these types of publicity lawsuits when we’ve got the hard work to do to put together a solid deal to keep St. Louis an NFL city… and oh by the way, there’s about 200 members of the legislature. 6 have sued. That means 3% have a different opinion than moving forward on this. In my world, if only 3% are against you and they’re not consistent in their legal theory, it’s not of great concern,” Nixon said. “The plaintiff (Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Jospeh) in that lawsuit didn’t have any real great opposition to (state funding for the) multi-million dollar facility being built for the (KC) Chief’s training camp in St. Joe or the repairs we’ve had to make in the last year in his district to make sure that stays top tier.”
Nixon said he would not consider calling lawmakers back for a special session for a vote on public funding.
“It’s not necessary. That’s why we just had a legislative session. This was debated on the floor. It was debated in both the house and the senate. It was debated in the appropriations committees. That’s what they did. They decided not to act. There’s absolutely no reason to call them back, especially when only 6 out of 200 have raised these issues,” Nixon said.
Nixon said Missouri couldn’t afford to pass up a once in a generation opportunity to remake a long-neglected and blighted section of the city’s welcome mat.
The stadium plan will erase 53 buildings, all but 3 of them vacant and connect the site to the Archgrounds and the new City Arch River project through new riverfront trails, he said.
“This is a smart good deal for taxpayers. We’re not raising taxes in any way shape or form,” Nixon said.
He also said there had been little public outcry against the funding.
He noted the current dome bonds actually generated surplus revenue for St. Louis City and County, as well as the state of Missouri.
He said net revenues would grow to tens of millions of dollars annually over the life of the bonds.
“That doesn’t even count the possibility of an MLS team coming in,” Nixon.
During a recent visit to St. Louis, the MLS commissioner said the professional soccer team was very impressed by the new stadium proposal and that finding an owner for an expansion would not be difficult if the stadium was built.
“That deal has $600 million in private money involved in it; a great investment on the Riverfront…and it has the NFL now moving faster and giving us nothing but positive signs that we’re heading in the right direction, moving up the deadlines which we take as a good sign,” Nixon said.
Still the governor and the RSA have until June 26th to respond to that lawsuit.