As St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke launches a plan to build a Los Angeles football stadium, Missouri officials are preparing their own effort to keep the team.
Two business leaders appointed by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon are set soon to unveil a proposal for a new stadium for the Rams, to be located just north of downtown St. Louis along the Mississippi River. While details of cost and financing are still being worked out, the hope, according to people familiar with the plan, is to signal to the NFL that St. Louis is serious about keeping its franchise.
St. Louis and Missouri officials had no immediate reaction Monday morning to Kroenke's stadium plan, disclosed early Monday in an exclusive report by The Times. Kroenke has joined forces with Stockbridge Capital Group to add a stadium to an already massive development at Hollywood Park in Inglewood.
In St. Louis, the team and local officials have been negotiating for several years over the Rams' future. The team is free to go on a year-to-year lease after this season if the Edward Jones Dome is not in the top quarter of stadiums in the league.
The last proposals by the two sides for renovations, in 2012, were more than $570 million apart, sending the matter to arbitration.
Since then, Nixon's office has led negotiations with the team. A spokesman for the governor had no immediate comment Monday, but in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last month, Nixon pledged to be "competitive" to keep the Rams.
"Being an NFL city is a matter of civic and state pride, and make no mistake about it – St. Louis is an NFL city," Nixon said in a statement in November, when he appointed two St. Louis-area business leaders to spearhead the effort.
Those leaders -- former Anheuser-Busch executive David Peacock and veteran attorney Bob Blitz -- have met with officials from both the Rams and the NFL in recent weeks and are preparing a stadium proposal which should be ready later this month. Neither was available for comment early Monday.
Local officials have promised that any new tax money for a stadium would require a public vote, an effort that would likely take months and could go down to defeat in a region still wrestling with protests over the events last summer in Ferguson, just a dozen miles from downtown St. Louis.
Even restructuring existing debt on the Edward Jones Dome or tapping other state funds to help finance a new stadium would likely require a vote of Missouri's legislature, which goes into session this week. Items related to Ferguson are expected to grab a lion's share of the attention, and it's unclear how much appetite there is in the Republican-dominated legislature to spend more public money on a stadium in St. Louis.