Shell game
Joseph Miller

Last week, the Post-Dispatch published an article detailing yet another change to how a riverfront stadium, designed to keep the Rams in Saint Louis, will be funded. Much ink has been spilt over the last year on this issue, and despite surface changes, the plan’s main problems are the same: 1. Mystery sources of funding, and 2. A proposal to give $400 million to a billionaire.

According to the article, the stadium will now require less money from bond extensions (mostly due to Saint Louis County dropping out), but more in the form of tax credits, state infrastructure fund credits, and unnamed state and city incentives. The stadium task force also increased its expected personal seat license (PSL) revenue by $30 million. And $450 million will still have to come from a team owner, presumably Stan Kroenke, who may have a personal interest in not supporting such a plan.

 

Funding (Millions)

Funding Source

January

July

NFL Team Owner (G4 Loan + Own Funds)

$450

$450

State and Local Bonds

$350

$201

PSLs

$130

$160

State Tax Credits, Mystery Box

$55

$187

Total

$985

$998

 

Fortunately, the plan reduced the total public support that would go to the stadium. Unfortunately, that support would still total $388 million, only a $17 million reduction. What’s more, that relief is bought by an increase in estimated PSL revenue. There should be little doubt on who would be left holding the bag, the Rams or the taxpayers, if actual revenue is less than expected.

More than anything else, the new funding plan is just another hand motion in a drawn-out shell game. Lower the amount coming from the Saint Louis area, increase the amount coming from the state. Decrease bond revenue, increase tax credits. Throw in undisclosed funding sources to cover the difference. Keep everything in motion and hope no one notices that none of the important questions have been answered:

  1. Who pays for the $100 million-plus refurbishment of the Edward Jones Dome, along with its continued maintenance needs, when state and local bonds are repurposed? (I’m looking at you, Saint Louis County, whose bond payments will “retire.”)
  2. What are the “additional state and local incentives” that will fund the dome?
  3. Will a team owner actually pay $450 million for a stadium in Saint Louis? And finally,
  4. Should Saint Louis City and the state of Missouri pay hundreds of millions for a billionaire’s stadium, even when economists agree that these stadiums do not create development or increase tax revenue?

About the Author

Joseph Miller
Policy Analyst
Joseph Miller was a policy analyst at the Show-Me Institute. He focused on infrastructure, transportation, and municipal issues. He grew up in Itasca, Ill., and earned an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and a master’s degree from the University of California-San Diego’s School of International Relations and Pacific Studies.