State funding for a new St. Louis football stadium will be difficult to enable before the NFL decides on franchise shifts after Missouri’s legislative budget leaders register their opposition to public financing.
House Budget Chairman Tom Flanigan is now on record as opposing any public financing unless Missouri voters approve it, while Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Kurt Schaefer says he believes there’s not enough support among lawmakers to enable a financing plan in the next budget.
Gov. Jay Nixon and St. Louis elected officials have proposed a $998-million stadium on St. Louis’s waterfront to keep the NFL in town. With St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke working on his own stadium plan in Los Angeles, there may be little chance to keep the NFL team in St. Louis — but a new stadium could lure another owner to town.
Complicating matters: the state is still paying $12 million a year to pay down debt on Edward James Stadium, which doesn’t end until 2022. As one might expect, lawmakers aren’t thrilled to be paying down debt on an existing facility and shoulder payments on a new one. From AP:
“Our mandate is to keep St. Louis as home of the Rams, but only in a manner that makes sense and provides benefit for everyone,” Dave Peacock, a former Anheuser-Busch executive who is part of a two-person team leading a stadium task force appointed by Nixon, said in a statement. “We’re doing that, and we will continue to do that in the weeks and months to come.”
Plans include $135 million from the state to help the sports authority make payments on bonds for the stadium. Missouri still is paying $12 million a year for debt and maintenance at the Edward Jones Dome, which opened as the Rams’ home about two decades ago when they moved from Los Angeles. Flanigan said Missouri is expected to finish making payments in fiscal year 2022.
The plan includes extending bond debt to pay for the new stadium and assumes lawmakers will continue budgeting annual payments.
Making matters worse: there’s no commitment from the NFL or a franchise to actually keep a team in St. Louis.