St. Louis Strikes Back: NFL Proposal for Riverfront Stadium Unveiled

Today St. Louis attempted to put its best NFL foot forward in an attempt to keep the league in the city. Days after St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke announced his intentions to build a stadium and move the team to Los Angeles, the two person team of Dave Peacock and Bob Blitz revealed plans for a stadium on the city’s north riverfront.

The plan to is to have a stadium ready for the 2020 NFL season. It is hoped than once the stadium is complete, an Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion team would use the facility. Cost estimates range from $860M-$985M. The proposal anticipates $400M total coming from the league and team ownership. The NFL’s G4 financing program matches team ownership contributions to a new stadium up to $200M.

The stadium would be built up against the Mississippi River north of Lumiere Casino and south of the new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge. More than 10,000 new parking spaces would be built. The site plan shows all existing buildings north of Carr Street, east of North Broadway to the river, and south of Mullanphy Street removed. The only remaining building shown is the Ashley Street Light and Power building.

While loudly reiterating the pledge that “the new stadium will impose no new tax burden on taxpayers in the local region or the State of Missouri”, the proposal presents “potential public sources” of financing as: Bond extension $300M-$350M, MDFB support $15M-$25M, Brownfield tax credits $25M-$30M, and Seat license proceeds $120M-$130M.

Local and state political leadership, including Governor Jay Nixon, City of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, and St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, was absent from today’s announcement and not available for comment. The St. Louis Rams released this statement:

“The St. Louis Rams have worked for many years, with several agencies and commissions, and their senior management , responsible for stadium facilities in St. Louis. This includes multiple discussions with the Governor‘s recently formed NFL Task Force. We received the Task Force materials shortly before the press conference. We will review them and speak with the Task Force representatives.”

Highlights from the stadium proposal and the full task force statement are below.

Full set of renderings made available (HOK | 360 Architecture):

NFL stadium proposal - St. Louis, MO

Highlights from St. Louis NFL stadium proposal:

The Vision
• By 2020, the St. Louis region will cement itself as a permanent NFL home with a new stadium on the Mississippi River riverfront.
• The new stadium and its surrounding complex will be the crown jewel of the reinvention of St. Louis’ city center, supplementing efforts already well underway by Federal, State and local public and private entities to redevelop downtown St. Louis, the Gateway Arch grounds, and the Mississippi River riverfront.

Satisfying the Governor’s Core Principles
1. The new stadium project will eradicate blight and redevelop the North Riverfront, an area that wouldn’t be developed in the foreseeable future but for the new stadium project.
2. The site of the new stadium project is eligible for brownfield tax credits in connection with required environmental remediation.
3. The construction of the new stadium will provide jobs that pay competitive wages, creating over 5,000 construction jobs over a four-year period, in addition to retaining a major regional employer and over 2,400 game-day jobs.
4. In addition to financing the construction of the new stadium, the plan includes the financing of material improvements to the existing Edward Jones Dome and America’s Center.
• The Edward Jones Dome will be repositioned for permanent convention center use in order to significantly enhance the St. Louis region’s ability to attract, hold and retain national-quality meetings, events and conventions.
• Making the football season available for meetings, events and conventions at the Edward Jones Dome will create millions of dollars in economic impact for the St. Louis region.
5. The new stadium will be held as a public asset and owned by a public entity, most likely the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority.
• The stadium will be leased to the NFL team’s stadium company pursuant to a modernized lease, with the ability to sublet to an additional sports franchise such as an MLS team.
• Any revenue splits, operating leasehold rights, management agreements, parking terms, signage splits, naming rights, and other rights and obligations will be negotiated with the NFL team.
6. The new stadium will impose no new tax burden on taxpayers in the local region or the State of Missouri.
• The construction will be financed without increasing the current level of debt service and preservation payments from the sponsors (St. Louis County, St. Louis City and the State of Missouri) of the current Edward Jones Dome bonds.
• New bonds may be issued that will extend the current payment obligations (in the same amount as the current obligations) in order to finance the new stadium and the improvements to the Edward Jones Dome and America’s Center.
• All public financing is contingent upon significant private investment from the NFL team and the NFL itself.

Financials
Estimated costs:
Land / Demolition $90M-$110M
Stadium construction $600M-$650M
Parking / Infrastructure needs $170M-$225M
Total $860M-$985M

Private sources:
NFL team ownership $200M-$250M
NFL (committed to match up to $200M through G4 program) $200M
Total $400M-$450M

Potential public sources (all contingent on private financing):
Bond extension $300M-$350m
MDFB support $15M-$25M
Brownfield tax credits $25M-$30M
Seat license proceeds $120M-$130M
Total $460M-$535M

Anticipated Timing
January— May 2015
• Present preliminary stadium plan to Governor and the public
• Ensure stadium plan and redevelopment site meet NFL criteria
• NFL confirms funding availability
• Finalize site plan and develop site acquisition strategy

June 2015 — December 2016
• Acquire site control
• Design and construction documents prepared and finalized
• Bids solicited and contractors selected
• Site preparation work begins

January December 2017
• Financing documents drafted, negotiated and signed
• Lease documents drafted, negotiated and signed
• Site preparation work completed and permits obtained

January 2018 Summer 2020
• Market seat licenses • Construction of new stadium for opening by 2020 NFL season

Full statement released by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon Task Force

PRELIMINARY PLANS REVEALED FOR NFL STADIUM ON NORTH RIVERFRONT IN ST. LOUIS
ST. LOUIS, Friday, January 9, 2015 — The task force appointed by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon today unveiled preliminary plans for an NFL stadium project on the North Riverfront of downtown St. Louis that could be the new home for the St. Louis Rams.

Task force co-leads Dave Peacock, the former president of Anheuser-Busch, Inc., and local attorney Bob Blitz shared initial concepts of stadium renderings, property plans and a financing model that were featured in a proposal discussed with Gov. Nixon. The final version of the proposal was submitted to Gov. Nixon this morning.

The North Riverfront location, adjacent to Laclede’s Landing and just south of the new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge, would represent the next phase of revitalization of the St. Louis Riverfront and urban core. The target date for completion of a new stadium would be no later than 2020.

“The North Riverfront is the next frontier for development of downtown St. Louis,” Peacock said. “A new NFL stadium on the North Riverfront will extend and benefit many of our current successes like CityArchRiver, our ongoing growth on Washington Avenue, Ballpark Village, St. Louis Union Station Hotel and other downtown projects. Conversely, the entire metropolitan area will benefit as a business and tourism destination, and we will create new and sustainable jobs while delivering a significant economic boost for our region. Some of the economic benefit comes from making the entire convention center, including the attached Edward Jones Dome, available for conventions and events in the fall each year.”

“Of course, a key message here is the fact that St. Louis has been, is and always will be a strong NFL market,” Peacock added. “Our love for and support of the St. Louis Rams over the past 20 seasons has been extraordinary and consistent with the passion we have for all of our professional and college teams, as well as our many civic institutions. The NFL has been a tradition in St. Louis for the better part of the past 50 years and our North Riverfront Stadium Plan will help ensure it remains that way for generations to come.”

“We are committed and very optimistic for progress and, ultimately, success,” Blitz added. “We are also committed to the principle made clear by Gov. Nixon several months ago that no new tax increases will be used as public funds to support a new stadium project. That consensus is shared by the many public officials and civic and business leaders that we have met. The preliminary plans have been received very positively and everyone is in agreement that it’s time to share them with the people of the St. Louis region and work to see these plans through to fruition.”

The task force met in mid-November with NFL executives including Eric Grubman at league headquarters in New York City and later with Rams and league executives in St. Louis. The preliminary plans were shared at both meetings, where information was exchanged and feedback was provided.

In December, a joint meeting was held in St. Louis with representatives from the task force, Downtown STL, the NFL and the Rams to again review the plans and continue the dialogue.

All along, the task force has briefed Gov. Nixon, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and various city, county and state officials on the discussions with the league and Rams, as well as to continue exploration on how the stadium project may work while protecting taxpayers.

Meanwhile, the task force also met recently with Major League Soccer officials to share the preliminary plans and explore how a new stadium in Downtown St. Louis might become home to an MLS franchise. Several MLS teams currently play in NFL stadiums, as will the incoming expansion team in Atlanta, where a new stadium is being built to serve as home to the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL.
Key takeaways from today’s announcement include:

• St. Louis-based HOK, in collaboration with 360 Architecture, provided initial designs and cost estimates for various options to provide a better understanding of what can be accomplished on the North Riverfront site. HOK currently is finalizing the acquisition of 360 Architecture, considered one of the world’s leading designers of stadiums, arenas and mixed-use entertainment districts.
• The preliminary plans feature an open-air, 64,000-seat stadium with views to the south of the Gateway Arch and Downtown St. Louis and exceptional parking options and accessibility via MetroLink, the highway system serving the urban core and the new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge.
• Stadium capacity for MLS and international soccer would be 30,000 lower bowl seats.
• Overall, the preliminary breakdown of 64,000-seat inventory is:
o 54,020 general seats o 2,000 suite seats (includes private suites and on-field seating)
o 480 loge box seats (eight seats each in 60 boxes)
o 7,500 club seats
• The stadium will be positioned on the edge of the Mississippi River. A riverfront trail and other riverside amenities could take advantage of our region’s resources and make the new stadium one of the most unique and compelling stadiums in all of sports.
• The new stadium will also include green space and recreational areas, as well as the redevelopment of the landmark Union Electric Ashley Street Power House, constructed in 1902.
• There are an estimated 10,439 surrounding parking spaces provided in the plan.
• The 90-plus acre site represents a mix of publicly and privately owned property. Stadium financing models include the purchase and acquisition of the property.
• Construction of the new stadium would provide jobs that pay competitive wages, creating more than 5,000 construction jobs over a four-year period, in addition to retaining a major regional employer and more than 2,400 game-day jobs.
• The preliminary financial model that is currently being studied is a $860 million to $985 million project. Funding sources could include extension of the current bond payments from the state, city and county that currently service the Edward Jones Dome. This could be done in accordance with all applicable laws and along with significant financial investment from the team and the NFL.

A tri-government agreement between the State of Missouri, St. Louis City and St. Louis County for financing of the Edward Jones Dome was reached in 1991. The state’s annual obligation is $10 million for interest and principal and $2 million for maintenance; the county and city each pay $5 million for interest and principal and $1 million for maintenance annually. Payments on the debt began in fiscal year 1992 and are scheduled to end in fiscal year 2022.

The task force is being assisted by Downtown STL, FleishmanHil lard and the St. Louis Sports Commission, which would be charged with the opportunity to bring additional world-class sports events to the new stadium. Peacock is chairman of the St. Louis Sports Commission.

Peacock, a native St. Louisan, has extensive experience in matters related to the NFL. While with Anheuser-Busch, Peacock worked directly with the NFL on advertising and marketing; overseeing the company’s partnership with the league to position Bud Light as the official beer sponsor of the NFL. In addition to his chairmanship of the St. Louis Sports Commission, Peacock has also served on the boards of the United Way, Boy Scouts of America, American Red Cross and many other prominent local and regional organizations.

Blitz, a founding member of Blitz, Bardgett & Deutsch, was part of the legal team that helped bring the Rams to St. Louis from Los Angeles in 1995. Blitz is legal counsel to the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority and a former member of the Authority.

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