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St. Louis stadium funding plan unveiled

Proposed St. Louis stadium

The city of St. Louis would pay $6 million annually toward a new waterfront stadium for the St. Louis Rams or another relocating NFL team, with other naming-rights revenue to be used to create a total funding level of $150 million.

The St. Louis stadium funding plan is still a work in progress, but the broad strokes of the deal were revealed in a bill to be debated by the city’s Board of Aldermen. The deal calls for the city to shift funding from the Rams’ current home, Edward Jones Dome, to the new stadium. In addition, part of the $158-million naming rights deal from National Car Rental would be shifted to the city’s contribution. Any team would not receive naming-right revenue; instead, the team would receive a portion of the game-day ticket-tax revenues.

Local elected officials seem pleased with the outlines of this deal. NFL officials, are not. They say the game-day taxes should be seen from the beginning as belonging to the team and not the city. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Generally, the NFL considers naming rights and even game-day taxes — on tickets, hot dogs, parking and beer, for instance — revenue that belongs to team owners, not to the public, said NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman.

Grubman said he had not seen the city bill. But if such money was bonded to pay for construction costs, he said, it should be credited toward the team’s portion, not the public’s.

“It’s an NFL asset in the way we view the world,” Grubman said. “Whether on tickets or parking, that tax wouldn’t exist but for the activities of the team.”

Under the broad terms of the funding agreement, the NFL would pony up $250 million for construction, another $200 million NFL payment, and a 30-year team lease.

The Board of Aldermen is expected to discuss the measure Friday.

Meanwhile, a public hearing on a new stadium is set for tonight, as 1,500 people (mostly season-ticket holders) will meet at Peabody Opera House to hear from NFL officials on the process of relocation. From USA Today:

The league is hosting the meetings as part of the process to decide which team or teams get to relocate to the nation’s second-largest market, which has been without a franchise since the Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995.

As far as what is said at the hearing in St. Louis, “That’s up to the fans,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.

“The purpose is to help the 32 clubs better understand the dynamics of those three markets before any decision is made about potential relocation,” McCarthy said.

The St. Louis stadium situation is tied into the NFL’s decision on the future of the league in Los Angeles. Though no NFL teams have applied for relocation, three franchises — the Rams, Chargers and Raiders — have publicly announced an intention to move to the Los Angeles market. Complicating things: Rams owner Stan Kroenke has proposed a new stadium at Hollywood Park. A decision on franchise relocation isn’t expected until early 2016.

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August Publications