St. Louis stadium task force members remain optimistic
ST. LOUIS (AP) Leaders of the effort to build a new NFL stadium in St. Louis said Friday they remain optimistic about a plan they say would retain a team and help redevelop a blighted part of the city.
Members of the St. Louis stadium task force made their case directly to league officials in New York on Wednesday. Task force leaders David Peacock and Robert Blitz spoke Friday for the first time since then, though they declined to discuss specifics of the 40-minute presentation or the league's response to the effort to either keep the Rams or attract another team if owner Stan Kroenke moves the franchise to Los Angeles.
''We're going to continue down the path we're on,'' Peacock said. ''There was nothing coming out of this meeting to make us change course.''
The St. Louis group showed the NFL officials revised renderings and video of plans for a stadium along the Mississippi River that would cost around $1 billion.
Peacock lauded the stadium as a way to revitalize an area near the Gateway Arch. Right now, the land where the stadium would sit is made up of mostly abandoned industrial buildings and dilapidated parking lots, an eyesore clearly visible from Interstate 70.
In addition to the stadium that can be used for concerts, soccer and other events as well as football, the project would add 5,500 parking spaces, parkland and trails, Peacock said.
''Imagine what this riverfront will be,'' Peacock said.
Kroenke is part of a task force planning a new $1.8 billion stadium in suburban Los Angeles. The Rams are year-to-year on their lease for the Edward Jones Dome, and could leave as early as 2016, meaning the upcoming NFL season could be their last in the Midwest.
The San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders have a competing plan to build a stadium in the Los Angeles area. Representatives of those two teams made their own pitch Wednesday to the league, related to their $1.7 billion stadium project in Carson.
Some believe the league wants two teams in Los Angeles, meaning that St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland are likely competing to keep one franchise.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon in November appointed Peacock, a former Anheuser-Busch executive, and Blitz, an attorney, to head the stadium task force.
A key issue is how to pay for it. Nixon and the task force members believe the bonds paying for the dome could be extended to provide up to $400 million for the new open-air stadium. Kroenke and the NFL would be asked to help pay roughly $450 million, and seat licenses would provide up to $150 million.
The St. Louis Regional Complex and Sports Authority filed suit this month to get clarity on whether the bonds can be extended without a vote. Peacock and Blitz said they were confident they can, but declined to speculate about damage to their effort if the judge rules otherwise.
Support for another taxpayer-funded stadium is not universal. A Saint Louis University law professor has threatened to file suit if city tax dollars are used for the stadium, unless approved by voters.