As the St. Louis Rams prepare to depart from St. Louis, the second team to do so in a generation, city leaders are scrambling to fill the Edward Jones Dome-sized gap they will leave in the city’s economy. The president of St. Louis’ Board of Aldermen, Lewis Reed, has been tweeting about the loss and how to make up for it in the coming year.
I've contacted the City's Budget Director to get report on expected tax revenue loss from Rams relocation & ideas to fill gap.
— Lewis E. Reed (@PresReed) January 13, 2016
I will request that the CVC come to the Board of Aldermen to present/explore ways to fully utilize the Dome during NFL season
— Lewis E. Reed (@PresReed) January 13, 2016
On Thursday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” Reed joined host Don Marsh to discuss the loss of the team and to discuss the coming year for the Board of Aldermen. Here are five things we took away from the discussion:
1. On the now-infamous Kroenke take-down of the city of St. Louis:
“I was very upset with the comments Kroenke made, especially when he pointed out the city’s loss of population as a factor for the NFL team. We know population, when it leaves the city of St. Louis, it is leaving to St. Louis County and Illinois, still within the fan base. That hasn’t affected the Cardinals games, it hasn’t affected the Blues games, it hasn’t affected the NFL. What affected the NFL was not putting a winning team on the field. It wasn’t the fan base at all.”
2. On the loss of the riverfront stadium development and what’s next:
“One of the biggest losses we have with this is that we had the opportunity for a $1.1 billion investment in the city of St. Louis where we would spend very little tax dollars compared to what would come from outside the city. With a development like that, we could have addressed some of the employment issues for the young people in the city of St. Louis, we could have set them on new careers to address some of the public safety issues we face in the city.”
“Right now there are no solid plans [for the property].”
“If you take a look at what we’re left with now, we’re stuck with paying $6 million a year for the next five years and we’ve lost $4.2 million per year. And then the state and the county have a piece of that we have to come up with and we lost those jobs.”
3. On the possibility of an MLS team in St. Louis:
“The [Edward Jones] Dome would be a little more of a challenge because of the width of the soccer field and the available width of the Dome. That’s an early opinion. We should look at a pro soccer team in the city of St. Louis. A few years ago when they had the pro match in the city and it sold out in 45 minutes, it was crazy how many people from all across the region and the state that were lured downtown for the match. There’s a pent up demand for it in our region and across our state. I think we’re well positioned in the middle of the United States that we can do it.”
“What kind of players can you afford to put on the field? What attraction do those players have on a national and international level? How are you competing? How are you advertising? All of those factors go into determining the success of a franchise.”
4. On the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency:
“That’s one of those things I would hate to speculate on. If you read the tea leaves and say who would stand the biggest chance of winning it, St. Louis or Scott Air Force Base, in Illinois, the President’s home state. I think we have the best urban case for NGA being housed in the city of St. Louis, just what it would mean to our urban core and the jobs that impact our city economically.”
“NGA is very important to the city. It is the chance of thousands of jobs maintaining in the city of St. Louis but not only staying here, but the potential growth within that job base. They’re looking at doubling the amount of employees within NGA and that would make a huge difference to our city along with the construction and the activity around there. And it would stabilize the area around there.”
5. On if ending the one percent city earnings tax would be a devastating loss:
“Saying a devastating loss would be putting it lightly. It is a third of our general fund. There isn’t any reasonable way of making up that kind of money. Those funds go to things like the public safety systems.
We had over 180 murders last year, can you imagine what it would be if our public safety services had to be cut back? It goes from everything for paving of streets to general maintenance issues and the like.
“One of the things I hope we can get into this round of the discussions of the earnings tax is, what really does the St. Louis city landmass look like? People who don’t have earnings taxes, they replace it through land taxes and other things of that nature. St. Louis city’s land mass itself, its 66 square miles, but 62 of it is really landmass. Of those 62, a large portion of those acres is occupied by non-profits, who are tax-exempt. Everything from Saint Louis University to Washington University to BJC Health Systems to the City of St. Louis to the libraries and Forest Park. An earnings tax makes a big difference in a city with that type of make-up.”
Listen here for more thoughts on the city’s earnings tax, a proposal to include the city in a “boroughs” system, St. Louis Public Schools funding, homelessness, and the homicide rate:
St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh, and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.