The plan for the new stadium calls for a 64,000 seat, open-air NFL stadium. This stadium would be the home of the St. Louis Rams as well as a possible attraction to lure a Major League Soccer team to St. Louis. The new stadium would have a price tag estimated to be $860 million up to $975 million, with the possibility of reaching $1 billion. The task force lists a number of ways to fund this venture, including the use of private funds and an extension of the current bonds. Also suggested was the use of tax credits and seat license proceeds. The task force suggests that part of the money should come from the wealthy team owner and a part from the National Football League. However, it is almost a certainty that some public money will be required. Most believe that if public money were to be used, the citizens of St. Louis and St Louis County would have to vote on it.
Two years ago, the Rams won a battle over upgrading the Jones Dome. An arbitration panel ruled in favor of the team’s request for renovations of approximately $700 million to the existing dome. The St Louis Regional Sports Authority declined, which gave the Rams’ ownership a year-to-year lease with the possibility of moving the team out of St. Louis. Therefore, it was made clear that for St. Louis to keep the Rams, it would have to renovate the Jones Dome or build a new stadium. Before an NFL owner can move a team from a city, though, they must have the approval of 24 of the 32 other NFL franchises.
Previous to the Governor’s task force announcement, Rams owner, Stan Kroenke, disclosed a partnership with intent to build an 80,000-seat, billion-dollar stadium in Los Angeles on a sixty-acre tract that he owns. With the release of this announcement, most St. Louis residents believe that his intention is to move the Rams back to Los Angeles, the second largest NFL market in the nation and where currently there isn’t an NFL team.
The Edward Jones Dome is in its twentieth year of use, but it still has ten years remaining—until 2025—before all of its bonds will be paid off. Of those payments, the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County are each responsible for $6 million yearly, while the State of Missouri is responsible for $12 million a year. It is difficult for most Missourians to accept the idea that a sports team must have a new facility even before the bonds of the existing stadium are paid off. This has become a controversial issue, especially with trying to justify the cost and with the Jones Dome still usable.
Construction began on the Dome in July 1992 and was finished in November 1995 at a total cost of $280 million. In today’s dollars, the total cost would be $433 million. The Dome stands 205 feet high and is 14 acres wide with a roof structure that covers 12.5 acres and weighs 10.4 million pounds. There were 64,000 yards of concrete used in its construction. The Dome has 73,000 square feet of Magic Carpet Astro Turf, which weighs 50 tons. The Stadium Club has 42,500 square feet of food service and hospitality space.
The Jones Dome, although not a first-tiered NFL facility, still seats 66,000 fans. After twenty years, it does stand in need of major, expensive repairs, yet there will be little income to make the needed repairs or to maintain the facility if the Rams leave town.
So what is the solution to this ongoing saga? That remains to be played out, but perhaps next year at this time we will have the answer to it. One thing is for certain, few, if any, in Jefferson City favor spending any more of the state’s tax money on a sports stadium in St. Louis.