ST.LOUIS (KPLR) - St. Louis’ Board of Aldermen continued a series of public meetings “on the road” for residents to voice their opinions on a proposed new NFL stadium on the downtown riverfront. The discussion quickly turned to a debate about jobs and democracy.
Those two issues were the ones used by nearly every speaker. The vast majority of those who took the microphone at the O’Fallon Park recreation center in north city are in favor of the project. 23 of 30 people who signed up to speak listed themselves as supporters, and nearly every one mentioned jobs created by construction of the $1 billion project, or those that will remain in place once a team moves into its new digs.
“Overall it’s gonna be a job creator and I really hope you guys vote for this,” supporter Byron Shelton told the committee.
Another in favor of the plan, David Holmes, drew applause saying, “You have to keep the city going, so I’m gonna say it again. Let’s stop all the talking and let’s get it done.”
Vincent Turner, who lives near the Edward Jones Dome, said, “I see a lot of kids, I stay downtown, that work in that stadium. And when they get off work they walk by my apaprtment. They’re happy with the tips they made. Taking that team from them is not gonna help feed them families.”
But there were also vocal opponents. Many stepped to the podium talking about the fact that a public vote appears to have been avoided by the politicians trying to get the project passed.
Linda LeFerrier said, “For one person, a judge, to overturn the will of the people and deny them their right to vote is completely contrary to our democratic ways.”
Rita Navaro also brought up that issue. “Let’s put it to a vote. That would be the poll we need to see.”
Her mention of a poll was a reference to the controversial survey conducted by the 15th Ward Democrats that suggests an enormous majority of city residents oppose public funding of the stadium. There have been many questions, both about the way the poll was phrased and how it was conducted, but the group stands by its survey.
Richard Buthod, president of the group, told aldermen, “Now hear this. The people of St. Louis do not want public money spent on a stadium. Overall 79% of city voters are against it.”
The full board is expected to take up the issue again next month.
It's a plan that still requires a $450 million commitment from both the league and the NFL team.
And as it undergoes committee scrutiny, aldermen have set a third public hearing on the proposed NFL stadium financing.