St. Louis may find lessons in other recent NFL stadium deals

A rendering shows a view of the proposed St. Louis football stadium looking toward the south. | Courtesy of HOK
A rendering shows a view of the proposed St. Louis football stadium looking toward the south. | Courtesy of HOK

St. Louis aldermen this week will publicly debate legislation that would help finance a $1 billion football stadium along the Mississippi River just north of downtown.

Atlanta, Minneapolis and Santa Clara, Calif., have financed professional football stadiums in the past few years. Each plan underwent many changes. The funding sources and taxing structures varied in every city but all were more expensive than predicted.

In Minneapolis, construction started late in 2013. The toll has risen to $1.1 billion from $975 million. The public will pay for just less than half.

Almost a decade ago, the San Francisco 49ers suggested that a new stadium could be built in suburban Santa Clara for no more than $800 million, but that cost rose to more than $ 1.3 billion.

In Atlanta, the city committed to paying $200 million in bonds toward the project. Falcons owner Arthur Blank is taking out at least $850 million in loans himself.

While previous examples raise concerns for some officials that the stadium might be too expensive for the city, St. Louis aldermen will discuss a city tax and funding package worth about $150 million this week.

The legislation, if passed, would extend the $6 million annual Jones Dome debt and upkeep payments, which the city has made for two decades, for an additional 35 years. It would rebate about two-thirds of the city’s game-day taxes back to the owner of the team.

Gov. Jay Nixon has agreed to extend the state’s $12 million Jones Dome debt and maintenance payments to front an additional $151 million in bonds from the state’s general fund.

The state’s development finance board has begun approving about $50 million in tax credits. The state Department of Economic Development has agreed to $43 million in toxic cleanup incentives.

The public board that owns the Jones Dome will add $5 million in cash.

Read more form the St. Louis Post-Dispatch


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