It’s a truly bizarre situation in St. Louis, with Rams owner Stan Kroenke desperate to leave for Los Angeles, and (some) local politicians desperate to build him a stadium to get him to stay. Problem is, according to documents FOIA’d by St. Louis Magazine, taxpayers would be on the hook for a lot more money than those politicians are claiming.
Missouri has committed $240 million toward a new stadium, and the city of St. Louis another $150 million. But according to a debt repayment schedule submitted by the stadium task force (headed by Gov. Jay Nixon), St. Louis will be repaying more money and for much longer than previously reported: an extra $215 million through 2051.
(N.b. St. Louis is still paying off the Edward Jones Dome, to the tune of about $6 million a year.)
The documents also contain revenue projects designed to convince politicians that funding a new stadium would eventually be profitable. All available research says that’s bullshit, but these projections for the Rams beggar belief with their optimism:
• The new stadium is projected to generate $63 million in revenues by 2019—as opposed to the current level of just $36 million—representing a staggering increase of 75 percent in what Rams fans, corporate suite holders, and sponsors are presently spending.
• The projections assume that 63,000 seats will be sold in the new stadium, as compared to the current average attendance of 52,112.
• Most incredibly, the documents forecast a compounded annual 3 percent increase in those revenues through the year 2051.
Pay no attention to the made-up numbers behind the curtain.
So a new Rams stadium would be a scam, like every other publicly funded stadium. But at least the stadium task force has one thing going for it this week: it’s lined up a sponsor. National Car Rental has agreed to a 20-year, $158 million agreement to put its name on the stadium, if it’s built. There is, you will not be surprised to learn, no mention of where that money will go.