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Vikings Metrodome Demolition Got Me Thinking About The St. Louis Rams & The Edward Jones Dome

The Edward Jones Dome at Broadway & Cole in downtown St. Louis

This past weekend you no doubt saw video of the Minnesota Vikings’ 1982 Metrodome roof being deflated to make way for a replacement stadium. This got me thinking about our own St. Louis Rams and the Edward Jones Dome. The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission (CVC) rejected the last Rams proposal, then lost in arbitration:

By declining to carry out that proposal, the commission granted the Rams stadium free agency starting in 2015.

Owner Stan Kroenke has the leverage to start negotiating a new stadium deal here or elsewhere. The Rams could operate amid uncertainty for years to come. (stltoday)

I have no doubt in my mind that Kroenke will opt out of the lease and begin trying to fund a build a new home for the team. He’ll extend his hand locally to see if it gets filled with money, or gets slapped down. He’ll threaten to relocate if we don’t help fund the new stadium, standard operating procedure in the NFL:

In Minnesota, the Vikings wanted a new stadium, and were vaguely threatening to decamp to another state if they didn’t get it. The Minnesota legislature, facing a $1.1 billion budget deficit, extracted $506 million from taxpayers as a gift to the team, covering roughly half the cost of the new facility. Some legislators argued that the Vikings should reveal their finances: privately held, the team is not required to disclose operating data, despite the public subsidies it receives. In the end, the Minnesota legislature folded, giving away public money without the Vikings’ disclosing information in return. The team’s principal owner, Zygmunt Wilf, had a 2011 net worth estimated at $322 million; with the new stadium deal, the Vikings’ value rose about $200 million, by Forbes’s estimate, further enriching Wilf and his family. They will make a token annual payment of $13 million to use the stadium, keeping the lion’s share of all NFL ticket, concession, parking, and, most important, television revenues. (How the NFL Fleeces Taxpayers)

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: if we continue to have an NFL team, a new stadium should be in a more spacious area.  One site continues to come to mind:

The site of the former Chrysler plant in Fenton MO (St. Louis County) is big enough
The 280+ acre site of the former Chrysler plant in Fenton MO (St. Louis County) is big enough, well located

In fact, a new stadium would only need part of the site.

The biggest thing after funding any project is where you are going to place your new giant building. Every city has ideal sites for these over-65-acre—or three million square feet—stadiums.

There is no correct answer for the best place to put one of these bad boys. Honestly, it’s easiest to work with the city and figure out the most cost-effective site. Using Dallas as an example, they went through three different municipalities before they finally decided on a site in Arlington.

The idea behind picking a site is making sure it will be big enough for a new stadium. That means over 80 acres of undisturbed and non-requisitioned land—meaning no wetlands, no rivers, no easements, and no eminent domain issues.

The Cowboys decided on a site that is in that 80-acre range, and they finally got their stadium finished after over a decade of issues. They likely had to fight easements and eminent domain issues while they created the site.

Sometimes roads even have to be moved in the middle of a city and, in some cases, historic landmarks may be threatened. It’s definitely an issue the Falcons are facing with their site selection, as they may have to buy out a pair of churches that have been in Atlanta for years. (Designing the Perfect NFL Stadium)

With 280 acres available there’d be plenty of room for hotels, restaurants, retail, etc to be constructed. Being adjacent to I-44 these other businesses could hopefully survive off-season. I think local taxpayers will end up paying part of the cost of a new stadium, I just hope our leaders don’t get taken to the cleaners.

I see the Rams playing at the Edward Jones Dome through at least the 2018 season.

— Steve Patterson


The Boulevard Piled Snow on Sidewalk, Blocking ADA Ramp (UPDATED)

Yesterday I decided to use a gift card I had for Crate & Barrel. We’d had warmer weather and rain to help clear away the snow. Unfortunately I encountered a problem as I approached The Boulevard.

As I got to The Boulevard I found a pile of snow blocking the wheelchair ramp.
As I got to The Boulevard I found a massive pile of snow blocking the wheelchair ramp. 3:42pm on Monday January 13, 2014. High temp yesterday was 55 degrees.
I had to turn around and go back to the MetroLink station to cross to the other side.
I had to turn around and go back to the MetroLink station to cross to the other side.
I briefly thought I wouldn't be ab;e to get through, but I could.
I briefly thought I wouldn’t be ab;e to get through, I crossed mid-block. Crate & Barrel is on the left.
After I made my purchase I got a pc of the other side of the snow pile blocking the most direct route.
After I made my purchase I got a pc of the other side of the snow pile blocking the most direct route.

The Boulevard is owned by developer Pace Properties. Here’s how they market the development:

In the heart of St. Louis is a lifestyle destination unlike any other. The Boulevard – Saint Louis is a vibrant village with a unique blend of upscale retail, fine dining, and luxury residences. Home to retailers and restaurants such as Soft Surroundings, Loft, Crate & Barrel, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro and Maggiano’s Little Italy, The Boulevard is the premier lifestyle development in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Take a stroll down the shops of Main Street and sit back and relax on the patio of our restaurants. (The Boulevard)

“Vibrant village” huh? Right…. I shouldn’t be surprised since their “visit us” page gives driving directions, no mention of public transit.

As I was checking out at Crate & Barrel the clerk asked me how may day was going, I said “Great, but I had a hard time getting here.” I showed her the first picture above. She was shocked so she called the store manager over. I showed the manager the same picture and she said she’d talk to Pace Properties.

Pace Properties wants to develop the SE corner of Forest Park & Vandeventer, they’re calling it Midtown Station.  Pace is the broker for IKEA’s proposed St. Louis store and they’re connected to the ADA-challenged Fields Foods development.  I’m not impressed with Pace Properties.

UPDATE: Response from Pace Properties received 1/14/14 @ 2:45pm:


As property manager of The Boulevard Saint Louis, I am sorry to hear about your recent experience. Pace Properties takes accessibility issues very seriously. For example, at the Brentwood Square Shopping Center we recently did a large, and costly, project overlaying the parking lot and replacing the handicap ramps in front of each store to ensure that we had ADA compliant paths. Unfortunately, the mound of snow that restricted your path adjacent to The Boulevard was pushed there by the county when they were clearing Galleria Parkway. We do not have any surfaces in that vicinity that would necessitate snow clearing due to the covered garage – with the exception of the small entrance/exit to the garage and the sidewalk. I have spoken with our snow removal vendor and they have been instructed to clear future obstructions from the ADA accessible ramp.

Thanks for contacting us regarding this issue. We appreciate visitor feedback and hope that we can make your next visit a more enjoyable experience.



— Steve Patterson


Three Years (Mostly) Smoke-Free in St. Louis City & County

Cat's Meow
Cat’s Meow in Soulard is an exempt bar for 2 more years

Three years ago today smoking bans took affect effect in St. Louis and St. Louis County, making all restaurants and most bars smoke-free. In both city & county, small bars were exempted. In the city, the exemption expires after five years.

Are the exempt businesses preparing for two years from today when they’ll be smoke-free as well? Hopefully they’ve used the last three years to build a patio, or plans are in the works for the next two years.

The opponents of the ban were correct, I’ve been annoyed by the number of smokers outside of some businesses. But I try to pass quickly or take a different route — much better than others having to inhale second-hand smoke indoors.

A year into the bans St. Louis magazine did a story on the impact, see Of Smoking Butts and Chapped Booties: Smoking Ban Delights Some Restaurateurs, Enrages Others. In short, some said business was better, others not so much.

I know I’m happy, I go out more often. I don’t spend time trying to decide where to find a smoke-free restaurant to meet friends for dinner. We still spend time debating location & menu though.  I’ve not seen any studies on the St. Louis market to see what impact, if any, the bans have had.

I’d like to see casinos become smoke-free, I had to go through the Lumiere Link a couple of months ago and it was awful passing by the casino area. I’m also tired of hotels having smoking and non-smoking rooms. The Chicago hotel I want to stay at next month only has a disabled room with roll-in shower in smoking. I’d rather not shower than try to sleep in a smoking room.

— Steve Patterson


Page Avenue Extension (Route 364) Opened Ten Years Ago Today

For years it was just a controversial highway proposal, but a decade ago phase one of the Page Ave. Extension (aka I- Route 364) opened, connecting the Westport area of St. Louis County to St. Charles County.  Years before the opening I participated in efforts to derail the project, including attempting to pursuede St. Louis County voters to reject a land swap allowing the road project to cut through Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park. Originally planned in 1969, construction began in 1997.

Looking west on I-364 Source: Google Streetview
Looking west on I-364
Source: Google Streetview

Before construction could begin a land swap had to take place to permit the selected route through the south edge of the park:

Opponents say the extension not only will destroy the park but also will add a fourth bridge to hasten the exodus of the middle class from St. Louis and aging St. Louis County suburbs to the greener pastures of St. Charles, Lincoln and Warren counties.

“If it goes through, it’s the turning point for the downslide of St. Louis County,” said state Rep. Joan Bray, D-University City, who helped a group called Taxpayers Against Page Freeway gather more than 40,000 signatures to put the referendum before voters.

Bray said the money slated for the project would be better spent to upgrade existing roads and to expand MetroLink. (source)

Voters, unfortunately, 60% approved the measure in November 1998. Highway advocates spent $800,000 vs $160,00 from the opposition (source).

Following the opening, St. Louis County experienced a population decline for the first time since St. Louis City left in 1876
Following the opening, St. Louis County experienced a population decline for the first time since St. Louis City left in 1876

Many factors are at play in the population decline of St. Louis County and increase in St. Charles County but I have no doubt I-Route 364 played a role.  Ground was broken on the third and final phase on May 22, 2013.

— Steve Patterson


Wellston’s 2002 Sustainable Neighborhood Initiative

In October I posted about the New Wellston Child Care Center Under Construction, Adjacent To MetroLink Station, and noted promotional materials referenced compliance with the Wellston Sustainable Neighborhood Initiative. I wanted to see this initiative to see how the new construction complies, if it all. After a few emails I received a copy of the initiative — it had to be scanned!   The initiative process started in 1998, the final document was from January 2002.

Click cover to view PDF on Scribd
Click cover to view PDF on Scribd

The goals detailed were:

  1. Raise the incomes of Wellston’s residents.
  2. Improve the system of education in Wellston.
  3. Improve the quality of Wellston’s neighborhoods.
  4. Establish a central destination place in Wellston.
  5. Improve access to employment, goods, and services for Wellston’s residents.
  6. Improve the health and well being of Wellston’s citizens.
  7. Enhance the image of Wellston and pride its citizens hold about their community.
  8. Stimulate local economic growth.
  9. Increase the social capital and improve the community capacity in Wellston.
  10. Revitalize the MLK Corridor.

It’s hard to know how well Wellston has done with many of the above, however, the early development child care center now under construction should pay future dividends with respect to education, and eventually incomes.

Diagram from page 17
Diagram from page 17

The report was prepared by The National Institute for Community Empowerment, Inc., which no longer seems to exist. I couldn’t find a website and their last phone number is not in service. A local contributor was the Regional Housing and Community Development Alliance (RHCDA), rebranded this year as Rise. Area Resources for Community and Human Services (ARCHES‘) is still around as well.

I’ve been looking through the report for the last month, developing questions to ask about the progress that’s been made in the last dozen years.  The most obvious are measurable results toward the ten goals listed above. Do they consider a recent Family Dollar store and a gas station as having met #10, revitalizing the MLK corridor? Any positive gains in education? Given the Wellston School District shut down in 2010 and unaccredited Normandy School District struggles, I rather doubt there’s good news to report.

The new Wellston Early Childhood Center will open in the fall of 2014, not a moment too soon.

— Steve Patterson