Mayor’s office: Public vote could derail new NFL stadium

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) - Should city funds be used to finance a new NFL stadium? It could be put to a vote. The mayor's office is concerned that an eleventh hour effort to require a public vote on authorizing city funds for a new stadium could kill the project.

The ordinance requiring a vote on March 15, 2016 will be introduced Friday before the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay warns such a requirement would take St. Louis out of the running in the bid for keeping the St. Louis Rams in town or attracting another team to play here. Slay wants permission from the aldermen to refinance the existing bond issue that is financing the Edward Jones Dome. He would use the additional money to pay for the city’s share of the new stadium.

That would push the payment schedule into the future.

Alderwoman Megan Green warns that would “saddle our children with debt.”

“We need to have a serious conversation about that and allow the public to engage in it,” she said.

Green has complained Mayor Slay promised details on the city’s end of the stadium financing effort since September, but nothing has been made public so far. Dave Peacock, who has spearheaded the stadium task force, indicated the city would be responsible for only 15 percent of the $1 billion project.

Green remains concerned. She points out Republicans in the Missouri legislature have objected to paying for a second football stadium in St. Louis. St. Louis County bowed out, refusing to help finance the project.

“What are we looking at our local burden being?” she asks.

In August, a judge declared an existing city ordinance requiring a public vote invalid because parts of it were too vague to be enforced.

Mary Ellen Ponder, Mayor Slay's Chief of Staff, spoke out against the bill, telling the St. Louis Post-Dispatch it would "end the city's best opportunity" for the new stadium.

Meanwhile, Green said her bill has four co-sponsors and she expects more to add their names to it as well.