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Poll: who would you name our new bridge after?

The new bridge over the Mississippi River has been named the Ronald Wilson Reagan Memorial Bridge. Reagan was born in Tampico, IL (4+ hours away) in 1911 but moved to California in the 1930s.

In August 2004 William Perkins and Russ Reike, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, gave Rep. Jerry Costello (D-IL) petitions with over 4,000 signatures supporting the naming of the new bridge “Veteran’s Memorial Bridge”. This effort is supported by Rep. John Shimpkus (R-IL) and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. The Missouri State Legislature voted on August 28, 2005 to name the bridge after Ronald Reagan (Source: Wikipedia)

There are many others from the St. Louis area (Illinois & Missouri) that would be better to name the bridge after.  The Agnes Moorehead Memorial Bridge has some campy appeal, traffic reporters could say things like, “There is an accident on the Endora so expect delays.” Seriously, someone from the metro east would be a much better fit than Reagan who grew up more than four hours north of the metro area.

Although she was born in DuPage County near Chicago, the late Katherine Dunham often called East St. Louis her home.  The poll this week asks who you’d name the bridge after.  I’ve included a long list but you have the option to name your own answer.

– Steve Patterson

 

Some cities planting public fruit trees

Image: Waysidegardens.com (click to view)

A recent USA Today article caught my attention: More urbanites have their pick of fresh fruit:

Fruit-picking opportunities like that are becoming more common, as volunteers in cities including Boston, Detroit, Philadelphia and Madison, Wis., mobilize behind a goal of planting fruit trees on public land in city parks and neighborhoods.

Free fruit also is available for picking in season on public land in Chicago, San Francisco, Austin, Minneapolis and New York, according to neighborhoodfruit.com, a site that helps people track down available fruit.

Interesting idea, the idea of growing public fruit is appealing.

– Steve Patterson

 

President Casino license to proposed gaming facility along the River Des Peres?

ABOVE: The Admiral serving duty as the President Casino until July 1
ABOVE: The Admiral serving duty as the President Casino until July 1

Pinnacle recently agreed to close the President Casino on the St. Louis riverfront and local officials are scrambling to keep the license within the City of St. Louis.

“On Thursday, the Missouri Gaming Commission staff announced it wants to hear by May 1 from casino companies and political jurisdictions interested in the license, which will become available this summer when Pinnacle Entertainment plans to shut down the President Casino downtown.” (St. Louis pursues casino license)

Last month Pinnacle’s River City Casino opened in South County where the River Des Peres meets the Mississippi River so others are now looking up the River Des Peres for a new casino site. I’ve got word that today, April 1, a casino operator will announce plans for a casino complex near Gravois & the River Des Peres.

ABOVE: The River Des Peres
ABOVE: The River Des Peres

Do we have any casinos remaining that are located in actual boats?

– Steve Patterson

 

Readers want to keep the Rams playing downtown

ABOVE: Edward Jones Dome
ABOVE: Edward Jones Dome

The poll last week asked about where to put a new football stadium and most readers feel a new facility should be downtown:

Q: A future facility for the STL Rams (NFL) should be located in:

  1. downtown St. Louis: 72 [32.3%]
  2. City of St. Louis (outside of downtown): 39 [17.5%]
  3. As long as it is open air or has a retractable roof I don’t care: 29 [13%]
  4. Metro East (Illinois): 27 [12.1%]
  5. St. Louis County: 19 [8.5%]
  6. Other answer… 17 [7.6%]
  7. Unsure/don’t care: 10 [4.5%]
  8. anywhere in the region is OK: 6 [2.7%]
  9. Jefferson County: 3 [1.3%]
  10. St. Charles County: 1 [0.4%]

From the comments on the original post I realize I should have had different choices.  “Metro East” is too vast.  One answer should have been the East side of the river with elsewhere on the East side another.  Also I should have defined “downtown” and provided a downtown-adjacent answer.   The other answers were numerous and I’ve divided them into two groups:

The first group is a mix of answers:

  • Somewhere in the City, open air / retractable roof
  • north city
  • Franklin County
  • Los Angeles
  • Mars
  • privately funded…like the patriots

The question was about where, not how funded.  The second group all had a common theme:

  • keep refurbishing the current facility
  • They should use the same facility they have now. It’s the “green” thing to do.
  • Don’t move.
  • exactly where it already is

So we have the keep it in place view.  I believe somehow we will get past the 2015 deadline. Either the team waives the requirement to stay in the top 25% or the CVC finds the money to upgrade the facility.  But come 2025 the lease expires.  At this point the facility will be over 30 years old.  Some say rip off the roof of the current dome.  I asked some local architects about the feasibility of reworking the dome in such a way to give it another 20-30 years of life.  The responses were mixed from it can be done to it wouldn’t work.

Razing the then 30 year old dome and building new is the only viable option on the current site, in my view.  When the new Busch Stadium was built they were able to build much of the new facility next door while the team continued to use the old stadium.

But there is no next door spot available.  The window between games is nine months — not enough to raze and build a new facility on the site.  One option might be for the Rams to play home games for one season at another facility such as the University of Missouri in Columbia.  What about other locations downtown?

A facility easily consumes four city blocks.  Additional acres are needed for parking and other game day activities.  Such a facility just doesn’t fit into a Central Business District based on the enormous size.  Doesn’t matter, no site big enough is currently available.  Will a site be available by 2025?  I hope not!  I would not wish for such a hole to open up.

The site closest to downtown I can think of is the old Nooter site at 2nd & Rutger.  Development of this site may happen over the next 10 years so even it may not be available in the future. The long vacant Pruitt-Igoe site will be developed if Paul McKee’s NorthSide project works.  The potential sites are few. Rebuilding on the current site requires the team to play elsewhere for a season.  Even if the team funds a new facility without taxpayer assistance the options in the core are very limited.

– Steve Patterson

 

Next deadline on Edward Jones Dome quickly approaching

ABOVE: Edward Jones Dome
ABOVE: Edward Jones Dome

Last week the agreement to sell the St. Louis Rams to Urbana, IL businessman Shahid Khan was announced in the news:

“The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the team’s owners, Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez, have agreed to sell the team to Illinois businessman Shahid Khan.” (USAToday)

Any sale must be approved by the NFL.  If the sale goes through it would very likely mean the Rams would not be leaving the St. Louis area.  But sale or not, the requirements of the lease remain in place:

“The next scheduled deadline for first-tier status is March 1, 2015. But the process that could lead to the Rams getting out of the lease and potentially relocating starts much sooner – in just 2 1/2 years.

On or before Feb. 1, 2012, the CVC must deliver a preliminary plan for first-tier improvements. The overall plan must include a financial plan, as well as the source of those funds.

The Rams then have until March 1, 2012, to notify the CVC if they approve or disapprove of those plans.

At that point, the Rams have until May 1, 2012, to submit an alternate plan, with the CVC then given until June 1, 2012, to accept or reject the Rams’ alternate plan.

If the CVC rejects the Rams’ alternate plan, the matter goes to arbitration on June 15, 2012. The arbitration must be completed by the end of 2012.

If no agreement is reached, the stadium lease would then convert to a year-to-year lease, with the Rams free to move after the 2014 season.”  (Source: ballparks.com)

So the CVC now has less than two years to put together a plan to satisfy the requirement that the dome be among the top 25% in the NFL.  We don’t yet know how much money is required, or where it would come from.  I’m sure the CVC folks are already sweating bullets thinking about it.  If the CVC meets the lease requirements then the Rams will be obligated through 2024.  At that point the dome will be more than 30 years old and the lease will terminate.

Assuming we get past this next deadline, I think we will hear talk around 2018-2020 about a new facility.  The poll this week asks where you think a new facility should be located.  I think any future facility should not be located downtown.  Baseball works well in an urban context — there are many more home games, the required facility is smaller, and baseball stadiums are more visually open. Football stadiums belong outside of an walkable urban context: suburbia basically.

By 2012 we may be asked to fund improvements to the Edward Jones Dome. If we are going to come up with additional money I want that money to go for a new facility outside of downtown. Put it next to MetroLink in Illinois or on the site of the former Chrysler plant on I-44.

– Steve Patterson

 

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