CLAYTON, MO (KPLR) – Governor Jay Nixon is expressing confidence in the chances of successfully financing a new NFL stadium in St. Louis, despite the revelation, Tuesday, that St. Louis County was essentially being removed from the complex financing deal.
Word surfaced Tuesday that the county’s participation in the nearly $1 billion project, “was no longer necessary. Taking question for the first time on the subject, Nixon told reporters in Earth City that things are still moving in the right direction.
“We’ve developed a clear path that I think we’re making progress on,” he said. “That clear path is, the way that we’re looking to move forward is the county would maintain its efforts to help the dome, which is an important asset.”
St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger didn’t speak on the issue Wednesday, but said the day before that his position had been consistent. He wanted to see a public vote on the use of any public money to finance the stadium, which is being planned of an area along the Mississippi River north of downtown.
Representatives of labor organizations expressed some concern about the impact the lack of the county’s expected $6 million per year might have on the project. Stenger’s office would not comment when asked if he had met with anyone from those groups in the wake of the announcement.
Not everyone is upset, however. A group opposing the use of any public funds for a stadium sent out a release praising Stenger late Wednesday afternoon.
“We are pleased St. Louis County taxpayers are no longer being considered to help fund a new football stadium,” said Fred Lindecke, spokesperson for the group. “However, we are confident a vote for any new stadium funding is required and that voters would never approve many millions of dollars more for another sports stadium.”
Nixon was also asked about numerous reports of contentious relations between his office and Stenger’s, but he put those questions aside.
“I’m not gonna go through what’s said or not said at various meetings,” he said. “We’re meeting with people all the time. This is something that’s gone on for months and months and months, and I don’t know which people talked to who. All I know is we have a very clear path.”
That “clear path,” will now require more dollars in what many consider to be an already fuzzy financial picture. Nixon, however, says he’s not worried.
“The lynchpins here are to focus on some significant private investments too,” he said, referencing money from the National Football League as well as personal seat licenses as sources of revenue. “We’ve developed what I think is a good plan that is gonna make us competitive and I’m extremely optimistic that were going to get to the finish line on a plan to build a new stadium.”
And the Missouri governor also had a message for those who believe this is just about a football stadium. He says there’s much more to the project.
“That area of the riverfront needs to be reformed. That you have 53 buildings there, only 3 of which are occupied. That this is a significant chance for St. Louis to re-do that riverfront in an iconic, positive way, and stay an NFL city at the same time.”
An interesting side note to this is the fact that Bob Blitz, one of the two men heading up the stadium bid for Governor Nixon, has worked closely with Stenger. Just months ago, he was a vice-chair for Stenger’s transition team when he took office. We tried to reach Blitz for his take on the situation, but he did not return our calls.