Task force behind building NFL Riverfront Stadium to host rally before Rams game Thursday

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ST.LOUIS (KPLR) – The push for a new billion dollar downtown stadium to keep the Rams in St. Louis is in the home stretch.  The signs are all around.

The stadium task force will make its big pitch at the NFL owners meetings in New York in about 35 days.  Tuesday, the task force revealed drawings that will be part of the pitch.

Thursday night, for the first time, they'll join fans outside the Edward Jones Dome before the Rams-Chiefs preseason finale in the Governor’s Cup game.

“This is the time that we really have to start rallying the troops and by the troops I mean all of St. Louis to get behind having St. Louis as an NFL city, the way we’ve been for years,” said Missy Kelley, President  & CEO of Downtown St. Louis Inc.  “Having a rally around what’s to come and in support of the team I think right now is more important than ever.”

“Absolutely!  You’ve got to have a stadium if you’re going to get a team,” said football fan Jimmy Walley of St. Louis.

They felt it was time to starting beating back the misperception that somehow had been gaining momentum among national media:  that St. Louis is a “baseball” town.

So, stadium task force leaders and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay will update fans on stadium progress and thank them for their support at 6:15 at Broadway & Lucas outside the Missouri Athletic Club across from the dome.

Organizers are not calling it a rally.  Fans hope to turn it into one.

“This is a sports town.  It’s not just a baseball town.  People need to understand that,” said Craig Wicker.

He sells his Yo Dawgs Hot Dawgs from his cart at both Rams and Cardinals games.

One of his customers outside Busch Stadium before the Cardinals-Nationals game Wednesday night was Rams season ticket holder, Susan Lanfersieck.

“Let’s do it for the city.  I think that will be great.  Look at ballpark village who thought that would take off like it did,” she said.

“People complain about the taxes and the state money going to it.  Realistically it won’t cost the state, in the long run. It won’t cost anybody any money because of the taxes generated [by the project and keeping the NFL],” he said.

There’s a small but growing list of state lawmakers vowing to fight payment on the planned $120-$135 million dollar extension of dome bonds to cover part of the cost of the billion dollar stadium.

Supporters feel if those bonds can leverage a billion dollar project, it may be an opportunity Missouri can’t afford to pass up.

“The economic impact of this would be very significant,” Kelley said, with the stadium all but certain to spur more investment around a long-decaying section of riverfront.  “For a billion dollars to be invested in the north riverfront of Downtown St. Louis, the opportunity for that is not going to come along again anytime soon…you can see yourself there, you can imagine yourself there.  “The energy and the excitement feel very much on par with where we want to be as a city.”

Thursday night’s pregame event will wrap up in plenty of time for fans to get into the game by kickoff, organizers said.