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Mayor Slay on Rams’ bid for L.A.: ‘Make no mistake — St. Louis is a great city, a great sports town'

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay talks to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Jan. 6, 2016.
File photo | Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio
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St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay talks to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Jan. 6, 2016.

On Monday night, the St. Louis Rams franchise made an official filing to move to the Los Angeles area. It was expected — despite endless negotiations of St. Louis and Missouri policymakers to put forth a plan to build a new stadium on St. Louis’ riverfront to keep them here.

On “St. Louis on the Air,” Mayor Francis Slay joined the show to give his take on the matter and the future of the proposed stadium.

This followed a flurry of tweets using the hashtag #kroenkecomplaints from around St. Louis Wednesday morning lambasting Stan Kroenke for the harsh words in a 29-page “statement of reasons” regarding the application for relocation (read more on that here). Slay himself joined the fray:

“The statements are outrageous, but here’s what I will say: This is a sales document for him,” Slay told host Don Marsh. “When you think about what he’s trying to do, I think he is, in an exaggerated way, trying to make a case for his team to move to Los Angeles. I think it unfortunate that he has taken the approach he has taken. The task force is out there, doing a great job, and will handle the specific response to things that are said there.”

The mayor also talked about the recent flooding, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency  and homelessness in St. Louis. Listen to the full interview here:

Here are the seven most important quotes from Mayor Slay on the stadium here:

1. On why St. Louisans are upset…

“I think what people get most upset about, St. Louisans, is that we love St. Louis. I love St. Louis. I wouldn’t have this job if I didn’t love St. Louis. St. Louis is a great town. It is a great sports town. Ask the DeWitts, with the Cardinals, or Tom Stillman, with the Blues and the success they’ve had; it does bode well for St. Louis. This is really a great sports town.”

2. On last night’s cryptic tweet…

“It’s always been my approach to things that in order to move forward, you have to keep an open mind in a lot of different ways. You can’t just burn bridges because you never know when you’ll need that bridge going forward.”

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Credit Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio
Mayor Francis Slay

  3. On what the St. Louis Rams’ statement means for the future of the stadium…

“Going forward, I think we have to put this into context. I’m not going to go into refuting every one of the things that he says in the statement he made to the NFL, the task force will take on that. We are standing firm. We are a great sports town. We have great football fans in St. Louis. It is an attractive place for professional football. Even with a team that hasn’t had a winning season in twelve years, the fan base is still very, very strong. …

“I do think, you have to put it all in context. But make no mistake about it: St. Louis is a great city, a great sports town. I love it and there are a lot of rabid football fans who love it as well.”

4. On if St. Louis really is 'not a 3 professional team market'

“That’s absolutely not correct, as you can see historically. All you have to do is look at the Cardinals and the Blues, you have quality leadership, they’re engaged in the community, they field competitive teams every year, they’re supported not only by the fans but the business community as well.

“Even with the Rams’ poor showing over a twelve year period of time, they still have an 85 percent attendance at the dome and that doesn’t include all the people, including myself, who follow the Rams on the television, on the radio on a weekly basis.

“I think if you want to be successful in this community and communities all over America, you have to do what you can to not only field a competitive team but make sure you’re engaged in the community. That’s a real important component. We just haven’t seen it, unfortunately.”

5.  On what Kroenke will do if the bid to move to L.A. is rejected and the St. Louis Rams stay in St. Louis…

"If he doesn't want to be here, he's got options. He could sell the team to somebody else, someone who appreciates St. Louis."

“That’s going to be up to him. It looks to me like he doesn’t want to be here. If he doesn’t want to be here, he’s got options. He could sell the team to somebody else, someone who appreciates St. Louis and wants to invest in our team, our community, in a big way. I was told directly by the NFL that they like St. Louis. It is one of the top 20 markets and they want the team to stay here in St. Louis.”

6. On the issue of a public vote for the proposed stadium…

“We needed to take a leadership role to make sure that we could maintain [the stadium] as a reality. The issue of a vote, what I said was I would advocate for a public vote if it entailed an increase in taxes. … We also had a timing issue, in terms of getting this stuff done and through the process.

“Here’s what we did do: there was a bill before the alderman; there were public hearings; there was some engagement on the outside of city hall to get people’s opinions.

“I do think this took leadership. It is a tough thing, elected officials were specifically involved — the Board of Aldermen that represents the cross-section of city. We didn’t go to a public vote but there was a lot of public involvement. Not everyone agreed, but we got it done and I think that was the right thing to do.”

7. On if the city was “disingenuous” in fighting the challenge to the ordinance for a public vote on stadium funding because Mayor Slay’s administration actually wanted a new stadium…

“That’s not true. That’s an insult not only to the lawyers who represent the city, but also an insult to the judges. The judges have to follow the law. That argument doesn’t hold any weight. Whatever approach we took, and we took an aggressive one, the judge made a decision. We didn’t have the timing to do an appeal because we were running out of time in terms of getting our proposal to the NFL.”

"If there was some kind of law that says we can't do it, then we'd have to live with it. We'd have to move forward."

“It’s not a matter of whether I’m happy with the decision. If the judge would have made a decision that we had to go to a public vote, we probably would have dropped the whole thing because we didn’t have time.”

“I think it is important that we keep the team here but if there was some kind of law that says we can’t do it, then we’d have to live with it. We’d have to move forward.”

"St. Louis on the Air" discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter and join the conversation at @STLonAir.

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Kelly Moffitt joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air.

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