Financing for riverfront stadium clears key vote

From the St. Louis Business Journal

A St. Louis aldermanic committee on Thursday advanced the city’s financing package for a $1.01 billion Mississippi riverfront stadium, meant to keep the Rams — or another National Football League team — in town.

In its fourth meeting on the topic, the Ways and Means Committee voted 7-2 to send Board Bill 219 to the full Board of Aldermen. It could perfect the bill on Friday, during its final scheduled meeting of the year.

But the board must schedule a special session in order to give the bill final approval before an NFL deadline of Dec. 30.

The city’s move comes as the NFL executive in charge of Los Angeles relocation,Eric Grubman, criticized the effort in St. Louis in a radio interview, saying, “St. Louis will fall short of having a compelling proposal that would attract the Rams.” Rams owner Stan Kroenke is planning to build a stadium in Inglewood, California, and is eyeing a move there. NFL owners are likely to vote on whether to approve relocation early next year.

Under the city’s plan, it would contribute some $233 million in bond payments, including interest, through 2051. It also includes $80 million in bonds issued by the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority (RSA) and backed by the state’s credit rating. The RSA is funded by the city, St. Louis County and state of Missouri. Those bonds would be paid using about two-thirds of game-day taxes generated by the stadium.

All public money is contingent on $450 million from the NFL and a team.

Aldermen on Thursday amended the agreement, including by adding minority inclusion goals.

Alderman Antonio French, a stadium skeptic who voted to advance the bill Thursday, said that the plan aims to make the stadium “the most inclusive project in the city’s history.”

The goals include that 37 percent of all labor hours be done by minorities; that 30 percent of all prime contract dollars go to minority-owned businesses; and that nearly 24 percent of all construction subcontract dollars go to minority-owned businesses. Stadium proponents say the project would create about 5,000 construction jobs over a four-year period, in addition to the more than 2,000 game-day jobs already in place.

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