Public gets $16.2 million bill for Rams retention effort

ST. LOUIS (AP) An effort to persuade the owner of the St. Louis Rams to keep his team in Missouri by building a new riverfront football stadium not only failed but also left the public on the hook for $16.2 million in expenses.

Most of the money went to a local architecture firm and an assortment of lawyers, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (bit.ly/236Nhfv) reported.

The stadium effort screeched to a halt on Tuesday when NFL owners voted 30-2 to approve a request by Rams owner Stan Kroenke to move the team to Southern California.

Instead of playing in a new, $1.1 billion open-air stadium along the Mississippi River, the Rams now are expected to move into Kroenke's proposed $2 billion football palace in Inglewood, southwest of downtown Los Angeles.

In its bid to fend off the move, the public agency that owns the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis paid 22 companies, including architects, surveyors, bond attorneys, construction managers, geotechnical engineers, financial advisers and a minority workforce expert.

The grand vision for the new riverfront stadium included an arena with plazas and gardens, bridges and bike trails, soaring glass sides, a wall of public at, a three-story brew pub and a 30-foot-wide observation deck stretching over the Mississippi River flood wall.

Architecture firm HOK made more than $10.5 million for its work on the stadium plan, while the Dome authority's attorneys, Blitz, Bardgett & Deutsch, billed almost $900,000. Thompson Coburn bond and financing lawyers charged an additional $760,000.

Gov. Jay Nixon's stadium task force, which guided the Dome authority's hiring, faced criticism for how it handled the project.

Contracts were awarded without bids -attorneys said the Dome authority wasn't technically a state agency and didn't have to follow state rules. The firm of task force co-chairman Bob Blitz was one of the largest benefactors of the effort. Many of the stadium contractors also are political donors.

HOK company declined an interview with the Post-Dispatch on Friday, but the architects said earlier that 30 employees and 30 contractors were working on the proposal.

Others who worked on the effort to build the stadium say they were frugal, followed all laws, cared deeply and worked their tails off even though they knew the outcome was far from guaranteed.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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