St. Louis unveils plan for stadium

ST. LOUIS -- Less than a week after news came that St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is part of a group developing a new NFL stadium in Los Angeles, St. Louis revealed a plan for a new stadium of its own Friday afternoon.

The plan calls for the construction of a 64,000-seat open-air NFL stadium on about 90 acres on the north St. Louis riverfront, about a half-mile from the Gateway Arch.

According to former Anheuser-Busch president Dave Peacock and local attorney Bob Blitz, the two-man task force appointed by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to come up with the plan, the new stadium would cost between $860 million and $985 million, with construction to begin in 2016 and be completed in 2020.

In addition to housing a football team, the plan also accounts for the potential addition of a Major League Soccer team, some renovations of the Edward Jones Dome to attract major sporting events like the Final Four, and additional development in the currently blighted north St. Louis area. Peacock has been in contact with MLS commissioner Don Garber.

According to Peacock, the proposal isn't just about keeping football in St. Louis but altering the way the city is viewed.

"It's about the future of our region," Peacock said. "It's about how we are perceived, it's about no longer accepting the notion that our assets can just dissolve in front of us or leave."

Peacock emphasized repeatedly that under the plan, there would be no new taxpayer burden. He provided a breakdown on how the development could be financed: about $200 million to $250 million from Kroenke; $200 million from the NFL G4 program (which the league uses to help fund new stadiums); $300 million to $350 million from the possible extension of current bonds on the Edward Jones Dome, which will expire in the next 10 years or so; and the use of tax credits to build up a blighted area, as well as the proceeds from the sale of personal seat licenses.

At it stands, the state pays $12 million a year toward the debt on the Edward Jones Dome, while the city and St. Louis County each pay $6 million annually.

"The new stadium will impose no new tax burden on taxpayers in the local region and the state of Missouri," Peacock said. "We are confident that the money is available in such a way that it will not add an incremental burden on our community, and if anything the net result we'd incur on this investment is positive for the community."

Peacock and Blitz presented the final plan to Nixon on Friday morning. It has already been sent to Rams and NFL officials.

The Rams sent out a statement Friday saying they had seen the plans, would review them and would speak with Peacock and Blitz.

That doesn't necessarily include Kroenke, who has yet to speak to the two, or any other civic leaders.

"I'm sure he's seen these because they've been shared early on in the process," Peacock said. "I don't know of its impact or his reaction because I haven't met with him. ... I'm sure we'll meet with Stan Kroenke when the time is right."

Peacock and Blitz made it a point to emphasize that St. Louis is and deserves to be an NFL city, even introducing the hashtag #STLNFL during the news conference.

Blitz, who was part of the group to bring the Rams to town in 1995, pointed out that the city is now in the opposite situation it was then.

"At that time, we were building a state-of-the-art stadium but we had no football team," Blitz said. "Today, we have a football team but our stadium is obsolete."

Peacock, who has lived in St. Louis his entire life, expressed confidence that the new stadium and conversations that will take place from here all fall in line with the NFL's rules on relocation and that this plan is far from being "too little, too late."

"Our urgency is not driven by anything that's going on in another market," Peacock said. "Our urgency is not driven by Los Angeles or anywhere else for that matter. Our urgency is driven by the fact that we build a new stadium for our fans and for our community to be a community and public asset. There's imperative as we started the Arch grounds as the impetus to continue this great work and position our city to where it deserves to be in people's minds for 2020."