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Options for St. Louis’ Stadium Issue

As the Rams move toward a season that they hope will result in their first playoff appearance since 2004, there are quiet movements afoot to try and solve the Rams’ stadium issue and get them on the path toward a new facility.

Rams owner Stan Kroenke

Rams owner Stan Kroenke

In talking to multiple people involved with the process, there appear to be several prerequisites in place before the process can begin. One is that the Edward Jones Dome needs to remain a viable competitor for events such as NCAA basketball tournament action, college football games and pre-Olympic events like swimming, in addition to being a year-round convention facility. That means that somewhere along the line, improvements to the Dome for those purposes must take place – and be paid for.

Secondly, it seems like a public/private partnership is necessary. Neither the public nor Rams owner Stan Kroenke appear to be enthusiastic about paying the entire bill for a stadium. Floating amid the speculation of a deal between the two sides is the issue of land. Where exactly would this facility stand?

An idea has been set forth to offer Kroenke a parcel of land near the Dome and allow him to join with public entities to build there. An area just north of Laclede’s Landing, bounded by 1st street to the east, Broadway to the west, Mullanphy to the north and Cass Street to the south would easily provide enough space for a stadium, with room east of 1st to the riverfront and west of Broadway to I-70 for parking and development.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon recently joined The Fast Lane, and said he likes the model used in Minneapolis. According to, that calls for the Vikings to pay $477 million of the $975 million cost. The team will generate funds from Stadium Builders Licenses, and also get a loan from the NFL to help pay their portion of the costs.

“I think the Minnesota deal is an interesting one to look at, just because, with the G4 program (which provides teams building stadiums a $200 million loan) and the league being involved in that investment, that’s an important part,” Nixon said. “We look at other deals. I talked to Governor Dayton in Minnesota and other governors around the country. You bet we stay in touch with them, making sure we’re balancing the tax payers’ priorities with the desire to be major league cities.”

In Minnesota, the public will pay $498 million, with the state paying $348 million and the city of Minneapolis paying $150 million for its new fixed-roof facility. That money will be generated by bond sales, a portion of convention center taxes, a pull-tab game tax, bingo and a one-time inventory tax on cigarettes that will generate $36 million.

For St. Louis’ purposes, a competitor for the Dome for climate-controlled events doesn’t make sense. So, an outdoor facility – provided improvements to the Dome – would be the preferred path. That would also mean that, unlike Minneapolis, St. Louis wouldn’t be in the running for a Super Bowl and the economic benefit that accompanies it.(Some university studies suggest the impact of a Super Bowl is as low as $30 million. A study commissioned by the city of Indianapolis by Rockport Analytics claimed the Super Bowl there in 2012 brought in $327 million net to the economy, not to mention $89 million in taxes the city wouldn’t have otherwise generated.)

How could something like this be pulled off in St. Louis? Here’s how. Right now, the state of Missouri, the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County pay into the debt for the Edward Jones Dome/America’s Center. The state’s annual bill is $12 million, with the city and county each paying $6 million. Those bonds are scheduled to mature in 2021, when the state, city and county will have paid the facility off. As St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay’s Chief of Staff, Jeff Rainford, told the Post-Dispatch two years ago, the city generates roughly $166 million a year for the time the entire America’s Center is available for conventions – from February to July every year. Conventions are booked years in advance, and with the NFL schedule not coming out until April, St. Louis is shut out of the major convention business from August through January right now.

If those payments currently going to cover the cost of America’s Center – a hotel/motel tax in the county and general tax revenue from the city and state – could be shifted to a new football facility for 20 years, A total of $480 million would be generated. With the Rams in a new facility, America’s Center could perhaps double its convention business and St. Louis’ hospitality revenue from $166 million annually to $333 million. Because of its central location, experts say that St. Louis has become more attractive than ever as a convention site. It’s cheaper to get to, and more people can attend conferences.

If Kroenke and the local governments could agree on a deal that includes $480 million of public money and he and the league covering the rest, a public/private partnership similar to what Minnesota has could be achieved, with no additional cost to any taxpayers and, in theory, a windfall from additional convention business.

Stan Kroenke and Rams coach Jeff Fisher

Stan Kroenke and Rams coach Jeff Fisher

The Rams could generate more revenue from a new stadium, and could get more from parking. There’s space for a tailgating lot between 1st street and the riverfront, and a garage could be built on the lot north of the Dome. A walkway across 70, or a tunnel under the highway similar to what Lumiere has, would generate revenue. Kroenke, the nation’s eighth-largest land owner, could redevelop areas west and north of a stadium, along with Laclede’s Landing.

Governor Nixon says, “Two things are clear. One, we’re proud to be an NFL city, (and it’s) great to have a Missouri owner making the kinds of investments with the coach and the staff they need to (provide) the top level of competition, and then secondly we have a long history with that facility (the Edward Jones Dome). The state of Missouri and other local entities own it, and as we move forward we want to make sure we have a venue that can not only hold the Rams but the Final Four and conventions. I think everyone sees that, and are looking for long term commitments all around.

“We stand ready to work if there’s long term commitments around there, and I think making sure that that facility (the Dome) is one that is used year-round and that can attract events other than NFL games is part of the magic of making sure that we get to the appropriate deal.”

This would be a deal that makes sense for everyone. It provides St. Louis and Missouri the chance to generate more revenue from their convention center, to remain a first-class city with first-class sports, and the opportunity to continue to benefit from the presence of the Rams and the NFL. It provides the franchise the opportunity to build the first-tier facility it desires, with more opportunity for revenue generation than exists at the Dome. And it’s in a spot that would provide Kroenke to develop land, enhance a community and make a ton of money in the process.

More: Kevin Demoff on Stan Kroenke’s Land Purchase

About Randy Karraker

Randy Karraker co-hosts The Fast Lane, weekdays from 2pm-6pm on 101ESPN. He also hosts much of 101ESPN’s special coverage during Rams season. Randy has more than two decades of experience in St. Louis sports radio broadcasting.
  • stevenaquinn

    I know I’m probably stating the obvious but it’s time to get something done on the stadium issue. Rams fans have had the specter of losing the Rams hanging over their heads for a long time. I think the Rams fan base is one of the better in the NFL. They’ve shown their loyalty even though the Rams have been terrible the past 10 years plus they’ve played football in a dungeon.

    I don’t really care what kind of stadium is chosen, or where it’s built, just do it. St. Louis is deserving of an NFL franchise and having the Rams move would be criminal.

    • A1974

      I agree! I would prefer them to do something similar what the Raiders and the City of Oakland is doing and that is build an outdoor stadium that cost effective.

    • Michael Grande

      Staying in STL. is Criminal to all Rams fans, Slowly becoming like the Browns… Currently, Rams are 31st in attendance and popularity in NFL…Bring Back The Los Angeles Rams!!!

  • steven

    Plenty of room in Fenton! And Hwy 44 and 270 ! there is also rail and room for more rail! It is a no brainier!

    • A1974

      You’re right. They should also look at Maryland Heights near the Holly Park Casino.

  • mufan

    Randy… I like your idea, but there’s a major flaw. You say there would be not additional taxpayer expense. Um, yes there would. $480 million dollars more. True, it’s the same rate as currently being paid, but to say there would not be additional expense is just flat wrong.

    • Gerald Reynolds

      Of course there would be more burden on the tax payers. Just as there are still millions owed on the dome. Any monies to be paid publicly would be from taxes and such expenditures would have to be approved with a public vote. Question St Louis has to ask, what does it do the community in the long term and short term. Is it better to have needed community services or the Rams?

      • Shane Gray STL Rams

        This idea would simply be a continuation of the tax that is currently in place. Regardless of the exact details, the Rams aren’t going anywhere (nor as any other team in the near future). And as for your community service comment, please don’t pretend to care about community services in St. Louis or St. Louis itself for that matter. It’s not an either/or but nice try.

        • Gerald Reynolds

          Shane, its too bad you do not know what your talking about. But what are you talking about ? Continuation of a tax that is in place. In case you missed it. Millions are still owed on the Ed. Now your asking tax payers to pay millions more for a new stadium. So, it is not just a continuation. Its additional burden that STL cannot afford. And you keep telling yourself nobody is going anywhere but so far you have not produced anything to substantiate that.

          • Shane Gray STL Rams

            Yes, I know exactly what I am talking about. Randy’s idea is a continuation of a current tax, not a new one, as is clear. And you could not care less about St. Louis nor do you know what it (and the state can afford). You think locals are paying for the hotels and motels? And I have shared research repeatedly on why nobody is going anywhere and as of this moment it is even less likely any team is going anywhere than it was just a few years ago.

          • mufan

            Yes, it is clear it’s a continuation of a current tax, but that current tax would EXPIRE if left alone. The current tax was not designed to fund another stadium. To continue the tax would require NEW monies, as the current tax would have expired.

          • Dwight Billingsly

            as deputy comptroller for the city, our office managed the city’s portion of the financing. there is no such thing as a “continuation of a current tax.” the financing is tied specifically to a bond issue conducted by the city, county and state. even the county with dedicated tourism taxes that could be used for a new stadium must have a public vote for a new bond issue. that would apply to the city, using general revenues, as well. remember: financing is tied to bonds specifically and a new bond issue would be required for a new stadium. that’s the law. and it’s easy to think about if you use the example of a mortgage on a home: if you pay off that home and buy a new home, even using the same lender, you will have to execute a new mortgage for the new home. substitute “bonds” for “mortgage” and stadium for home and you see the point.

      • Jedi Ninja 007

        Troll on

  • isomerize

    Sounds like if the state is ready to commit half a billion that this will happen. I don’t think Kroenke really wants the move to LA, its just his ace to get leverage. It would be good to finally develop those parcels of land too.

    • A1974
      • Gerald Reynolds

        Who in LA has given up on the NFL? You talking Politicians? AEG has until October and lets not forget that Kroenke purchased enough land in Inglewood, CA which the NFL has coveted for years. Lets not forget that you have never heard Roger Goodell make any pleas to keep the Rams in STL like he did for the Vikings and the Bills.

        • Shane Gray STL Rams

          Let’s not forget Minnesota had been trying to get a deal for over a decade at that point and things were on the verge of falling apart. The Rams and St. Louis have barely started the process of discussions. You will get the NFL via expansion at some point but until then, it aint happenin.

        • Jedi Ninja 007

          Troll e o e o

        • Jedi Ninja 007

          How many NFL teams has LA lost? One? Two? Three?

          • Gerald Reynolds

            How many NFL teams has St Louis lost? Jedi, you need to come up with better material and Shane, STL and Minnesota is apples and oranges. BTW Shane, do you think Kroenke noticed the LA Clippers are going to sell for 2 BILLION DOLLARS? And they have not won anything but, just being in LA made them worth 2 Billion.

          • Shane Gray STL Rams

            As Bernie pointed out today, with the Clippers deal it is even less likely any team moves (they weren’t anyway) as expansion fees are only growing bigger and bigger. The league and its owners aren’t giving ‘em up. Not happening.

          • Jedi Ninja 007

            Enjoy the 2014 season watching football teams that don’t play in LA. Lol.

  • curt

    You didn’t mention the 300 million in construction wages alone that will be paid to people building the stadium locally as is being done in Minnesota.

    • Kevin Nance

      And that stadium would almost certainly be union-contracted jobs as well.

  • Kevin Nance

    Having the Rams clear as a tenant not only opens the door for more convention space, it also provides another large venue for another sports team, such as soccer or an NBA team. Perhaps they would be more lucrative than increased conventions; perhaps not. The Ed can also be a venue for giant concerts. And gee, I wonder what top-tier conventions and events are possible during the holiday season.

    That said, what Randy said that may cause some consternation is that the new home of the Rams should be outdoors. Would it be significantly difficult, or significantly more expensive, to make an outdoor stadium that qualifies as “top-tier” to fulfill the contract requirements the team has with the city? Moreover, would having an outdoor stadium harm ticket sales, when the Rams are already not a shoo-in for selling out their games in the last decade? Having an outdoor stadium means that weather can be a greater factor for the fan experience as well as field conditions.

    Great article, Randy.

    • Randy Karraker

      The facility would be more than 50% paid for by the Rams. It would be their design, exactly what they want. With a new lease. The Dome lease wouldn’t apply at all. In regards to outdoor, 50% of Rams fans want an outdoor stadium, according to their studies, and it also increases the value of indoor suites/club seats.

      • Gerald Reynolds

        An outdoor stadium works better in Sunny Southern California then frigid Missouri in December and January. Lets not forget that Kroenke already has the land and it is land the league has coveted for years. Your a talented buy Randy. I”m sure you can get a job at ESPN Los Angeles or Fox 570AM.

        • Jedi Ninja 007

          Sunny California??? I bet your expansion team will be from the lingerie bowl. Packer and Bears fans laugh at you girlie man. Philly and New Yorkers do as well. I don’t think you know what real football is.

  • Michael Grande


  • Shane Gray STL Rams

    Two items I’d like to add to this terrific column, if I may:

    1: the NFL G4 Loan operates more or less as a grant as repayment of up to $200 million comes via monies that teams do not retain anyhow. To qualify for the full aforementioned $200 M G4 Loan, teams must contribute at least that amount to a new stadium project.

    2: a new open air venue could theoretically open the door to bringing MLS to St. Louis, making the Rams stadium option even more attractive to many as it would work to solidify two major sports leagues in the region. Several MLS sites have went the way of multipurpose venues.

    • A1974

      Good point.

    • curt
    • AnthonyFrmCalifornia

      Your second point is spot on, that’s why the rumors of Stan using his Inglewood property solely for an expansion MLS team are silly. If he is going to build an MLS stadium he might as well throw more money into it and move his NFL team into the second largest media market in the US.

    • Youngblood

      If the loan is paid back with money that would otherwise be in Stan Kroenke’s bank account, then it is not a grant.

      • Aj Hernandez


      • Shane Gray STL Rams

        You don’t understand the NFL G4 system, clearly.

  • Teddy Vandross

    Great article Randy. Love the optimism, and I share that same optimism. Just looking forward to the day that there is real progress.

  • Jordan Baer

    Keeping the Dome and building a new stadium responsibly AND would be on the riverfront! This is the perfect deal. Excellent analysis!

  • Gerald Reynolds

    Same baloney you and others have been spouting for months. Secret meetings, secret movements blah, blah, blah and none of it real. Geez, stop drinking the kookaid Randy. Rams are moving back to LA. Enjoy the last season in STL.

    • Ronald Dean Tetrick-Rocky

      Gerald ,where are your boys ? All the trolls on BBTLAR?A little shocked that reality is setting in ?LA will be awarded a expansion team someday ,you will get too see the St.Louis Rams, when they come to your town to play your new team.As for Koolaid ,your dreaming and about to get a wake up call .

      • Gerald Reynolds

        Yah, you keep thinking that way, try not to take it too hard when 2015 comes and the Rams have moved. There is always the Chiefs or maybe even the Bears for you.

        • Jason Sprod

          Seems there are more Bears fans in St Louis than Rams fans

          • AnthonyFrmCalifornia

            Alot of Packer fans at the preseason game last year too.

      • Jason Sprod

        There won’t be expansion team in LA, Rams will be moving back to LA.

        • Jedi Ninja 007

          Good luck with that. We both know that’s not true. I feel bad for you though. The real question is, will you support the new expansion team, or still stay loyal to the SAINT LOUIS RAMS?

          • Jason Sprod

            Jedi you keep dreaming the Rams will stay in St Louis buddy. If you know anything about Professional Sports, they get their money from TV Deals and Sponsorships LA is the second biggest TV market in the USA. Kroenke has bought land in LA not in St Louis for a new Stadium St Louis is broke and can’t support 3 Professional sporting teams.

          • Jason Sprod

            St Louis might get a expansion team when the city can support the team!!!

          • Jedi Ninja 007

            I repeat, I know you don’t really believe that. Not deep down.

          • Shane Gray STL Rams

            Jason, you just showed how uninformed you are regarding the topic. There are no separate TV deals in the NFL. Yes, Stan bought land in L.A. (as he has/dones all over the world) to attain more leverage. St. Louis is not broke look at your own state’s economic condition. The Rams won’t be going anywhere (nor any other team). It’s not in the works. Expansion will be your ticket back into the league. Until that time, it’s not happening with the Rams nor anyone else.

          • Jason Sprod

            Shane, has Kroenke bought land in St Louis for a new Stadium NO. LA has the second biggest TV Market, sporting teams get their money from TV Deals and Sponsorships that is a fact. St Louis cannot support 3 Professional sporting teams. Edward Jones Dome is not in the top tier of Stadiums. Shane keep dreaming if you think the Rams will stay in St Louis, staying at Edward Jones Dome. March 2015 the Rams are free to leave St Louis, Good chance they will.

    • Jedi Ninja 007

      Lol. Not going to happen. The funny thing is deep down, you know that don’t you?

  • bixfisher .

    I told Kevin Demoff that this stadium thing is similar to a guy that has been dating a beautiful woman for 20 years or so. He has spent money taking her to dinner, nice shows, bought her expensive clothing and now has purchased a ring. When he proposes to her for marriage, she declines saying “I still want to date around!”. So as the guy that has been dating this woman, how do I stay in love with her when she isn’t willing to commit to me? Do I keep spending money on her only to be turned away later? Just a sayin……!

  • Michael Grande

    Stan Bought land, big enough to build a stadium on in LA! #LARAMS2015

    • terry

      Yea Stan bought land big enough to build a stadium on but where u going to park?

  • Gerald Reynolds

    There are no conversations taking place between the Rams and any community in the St Louis area you can think of in regards to a stadium. And that includes Fenton.

    • Shane Gray STL Rams

      And you have no clue what you are talking about, respectfully.

    • Jedi Ninja 007

      You are truly a one dee ten tee.

  • Youngblood

    Overall I’m fine with this article. A few questions though, if the public pays for half of a new Rams Stadium, why should Kroenke get all the parking money? Is the the 1994 Concerto of the Desperados all over again? Also, what would give SK confidence that even if he builds a premium facility that he will actually get a maximum return? Overall, support in the area has been somewhat sparse, just like it has for the very competitive St Louis Blues who still struggle financially. Will Kroenke be willing to miss out on hosting Super Bowls that he would surely host by building on his land in Inglewood? Your proposal is creative and well thought out, however it still may not be what is ultimately in the cards.

  • StLfan

    A much better solution: buy out and demolish the four-square block on the other side of the convention center. Find new locations for the poorly-rated Ramada Plaza Hotel, garage, United Way, and office building, helping to fill now-vacant downtown buildings. Then build the new Indianapolis-style stadium here and attach it to the Convention Center, creating more overall floor space, leaving conventions/Rams to play on without disruption until moving over. Very simple, actually. Everyone wins.

  • Brett Grant

    From the 5.30.14 Bernie Miklasz article. The Rams aren’t going to LA. I’ve been saying it all along – the NFL won’t let anybody into LA – they want to EXPAND!!

    Of course, with the $2 billion sale price of the Clippers, we can expect immediate cackling and shrieking from the usual Chicken Littles about what this means for the Rams and Stan Kroenke
    and St. Louis and Los Angeles. If an NBA team is worth $2 billion in
    LA, then what would the Rams be worth in Los Angeles? OH MY GOD … THE
    SKY IS FALLING! … Here’s what it means: if anything the NFL and
    commissioner Roger Goodell will tighten its control on
    the Los Angeles market. And two California-based teams that desperately
    need new stadiums – the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders – will
    make sure to protect the territory. The Chargers already have made it
    known that they won’t stand by and let a carpetbagger swoop into LA.

    4. And that’s the point:
    the league will not allow a carpetbagger to cash in on Los Angeles. The
    LA market is too lucrative to simply let any greedy owner scurry in
    there to become even wealthier. The NFL is thrilled by the tentative
    Clippers sale price. Here’s why: if and when a legitimate LA stadium
    plan becomes a reality, the NFL now can command even a higher purchase
    price when it opens the market for bids on one or two expansion teams
    there. The NFL’s plan all along is to exact the highest expansion fees
    possible when returning to the market. And the other NFL owners aren’t
    going to allow a greedhead to rush into LA and better himself at their

    The NFL owners aren’t going to give up their huge shares of the expansion fees. When former Microsoft exec Steve Ballmer
    has no problem putting a $2 billion offer on the table for the
    Clippers, think about what the NFL can command in expansion fees. It’s

    Any team moving to LA is a longshot at this point, but
    here’s another way to look at it. Even if it happens — that the NFL
    eases control over the LA market — the relocation cost of moving an
    existing franchise there just skyrocketed. The NFL can go nuts in
    demanding an enormous payoff from an owner that wishes to flee to LA.

    4a. For a new look at the LA stadium/NFL situation, the Buffalo News put a spotlight on the formidable issues that will be difficult to overcome. The story had this quote from Chris Long’s dad, Howie Long,
    who needs no introduction: “When you factor in moving costs and what it
    will take to construct a stadium,” said Hall of Fame defensive end
    Howie Long, “the price of getting Los Angeles would be very
    difficult. It’s sounding more and more like we’ll have a team in London
    before we do in LA.”

  • steven

    If you can get 2 billion for the clippers! What would a NFL franchisee be worth?

  • Dwight Billingsly

    there’s just that little matter of the new laws in effect in st louis city and county that require a public vote to spend money on sports facilities. doesn’t matter if the money is currently being spent for those purposes; any public money to be spent for sports facilities after the ordinances passed must face a public vote. stupid not to mention this.

  • Michael Brown

    The rams will be moving back to LA. People need to accept it and move on. Sucks for st Louis, but what they will experience is simply what LA was to the raiders in the 80s and 90s; just a temporary spot until their return to their true home. Fortunately, Los Angeles situation is far better than oakland as the team was simply stolen rather than as a result of some terrible stadium issue. Los Angeles will get its team back and some out of state owner will never steal them again.

  • Mark

    Well the level of the stadium topic just Skyrocketed on ESPN and MNF…even Steve Young a Former Niners QB Believes that the Rams should go back to LA…

    none of will know what the Rams and especially Stan will do… most all of us will have to wait till the Super Bowl…

    but espn101 and randy K here made a statement that all caught.. and once you say something like he did especially in hte social media world, YOU CANT HIT RETRACT!

    everyone knows what is going on with fergason out there to me that is more important

    Bonds are owed even from the ed dome
    plus the arch and new busch stadium and anything else

    taxes are ment for things like
    parks and rec
    and a few other things


    we didnt lose the rams because of fan support… we lost the rams because of a GREEDY OWNER that Greedy owner that got what she wanted… A NEW STADIUM and all the Bells and whistles…

    Stan was not apart of the lease negotiation in 1994

    coming back to LA the Rams will be heightened like the giants/jets/patriots/steelers in the NFL the rams dont have that now Nationally

    and have there 49 history with LA RENEWED
    In Los Angeles we have 2 Stadium ready locations READY TO GO… they are shovel ready and dont need any team to wait to get the ball going to start the construction

    when the vikings finally got approval for a new stadium…. they were in the metro dome for OVER 30 YEARS and completed the lease in Full, they also didnt have a lease like the rams…

    the vikings were in Minnesota FOR 50 YEARS not 20 50 YEARS and they are staying

    because STL Handed the keys to the Rams… the City is now forced to pay up

    americas economy is not the same as it was 50 years ago… and cities need to be smarter about spending…

    so as a taxpayer private money or tax money… i take Private money for a stadium anytime