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Economic development chief says new football stadium could generate $300 million in revenue

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HOK/360 Architecture
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State officials are claiming that building a new NFL-caliber stadium in St. Louis would provide a huge financial benefit to Missouri.

The proposed new riverfront stadium, which would seat around 64,000 people, has an estimated price tag of $860 million to $985 million.

Mike Downing, director of the Department of Economic Development, told a Missouri House committee Monday that the state would take in nearly $300 million over the next 30 years if a new stadium were built. He said that most of the economic impact would come from personal income taxes paid by Rams' players, an estimated $9.6 million a year over the same 30-year period.

Downing also labeled those figures as "conservative," as well as the overall potential financial impact of building a new stadium to keep the Rams or attract another team.

"The indirect taxes we did not calculate for the purposes of trying to be conservative were (from) spending (by) the players, the coaches, the team personnel, and the stadium workers that live in the region," Downing said. "We also did not calculate the spending (of) construction workers that live in the region, and finally the spending of football and non-football attendees for hotels, restaurants, and other retail activity."

Several Republican members of the House committee on governmental oversight were skeptical. Vice Chair Tom Hurst, R-Meta, wanted to know if the numbers would be any different if the Rams stayed in St. Louis without a new stadium.

Downing answered, "My understanding is they would not play where they're at, so we would most likely not have a team in St. Louis if we stay as it is right now."

However, committee chair Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, questioned whether the Rams would be allowed to move to Los Angeles, now that the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers have announced tentative plans to build and share a new stadium in the Los Angeles area.

"Does the Rams' vote count in determining whether they can move?" Barnes asked.  "The reason it matters is because if it counts, they only have to get 23 other owners to agree; if it doesn't count they have to get 24 other owners to agree."

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Credit Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio
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Dave Peacock answers questions before a Mo. House committee March 9, 2015, on the proposed new NFL stadium.

Neither Downing nor Dave Peacock could answer that question. Peacock co-chaired a task force appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon that put the new stadium proposal together.  Other questions involved the current home of the Rams. State Rep. Jeffrey Messenger, R-Republic, wanted to know how much money the state still owes on the Edward Jones Dome.

"I don't know the exact dollar number," Peacock answered.

Messenger then asked, "So now we're going to be paying for it and then we'll be paying for a new stadium as well…correct?"

Peacock responded, "Well, the belief would be (that) any financing would...pay off the old stadium…and roll into the new one…(that) would be the theory."

Nixon, a Democrat, has said that current bonds can be extended to provide up to $350 million in funding, but Republican leaders in the House and Senate have argued that their approval is also needed, and they're opposed to spending any state money on a new stadium.  Senate President Pro-tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, says they're currently considering an amendment to a bonding bill that would require either lawmaker approval or a vote of the people for the governor to "put the state in debt."

Rams owner Stan Kroenke has proposed building a new stadium in Inglewood, about 12 miles from downtown Los Angeles.  Two weeks ago, the Inglewood City Council voted unanimously to authorize the proposed new stadium, and a ballot initiative to add the stadium to Inglewood's existing development plans has been certified.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.

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