Home » STL Region » Recent Articles:

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

ejdomebroadway
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

 

Best Thing Expected To Happen In The St. Louis Region In 2014…

January 8, 2014 Drug Policy, STL Region Comments Off on Best Thing Expected To Happen In The St. Louis Region In 2014…

The top two answers in last week’s unscientific poll tied, with third close behind.

Q: Best thing expected to happen in the St. Louis region in 2014?

  1. Opening of the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge 21 [19.63%]
  2. Loop Trolley construction begins 21 [19.63%]
  3. St. Louis’ 250th anniversary 19 [17.76%]
  4. Phase One of Ballpark Village opens 15 [14.02%]
  5. Other: 14 [13.08%]
  6. Unsure/no opinion 6 [5.61%]
  7. Fields Foods grocery store opens 4 [3.74%]
  8. Same-sex marriage in Illinois (June 1st) 3 [2.8%]
  9. Medical marijuana in Illinois 3 [2.8%]
  10. March Madness (Basketball tournaments) 1 [0.93%]

The fourteen “other” answers supplied by readers were:

  1. None of the above
  2. Progress on CityArchRiver
  3. american airlines merger
  4. Groundbreaking on Paul McKee’s Northside project (if it actually happens)
  5. City wide form based zoning is adopted
  6. Not getting my car ganked downtown cuz now I park in a garage – only $140/month.
  7. northside project starts
  8. Rams Make a Deal to Stay in STL
  9. Buildings around old post office get redeveloped/ Further cwe/cortex development
  10. City re-enters the County
  11. Freeman Bosley Jr and Charlie Dooley go to jail.
  12. Continued neighborhood redevelopment and rehab.
  13. move toward city/county consolidation
  14. Announcement for Pevely reuse

My point was to look at things actually expected to happen. In the comments on the original post someone unhappy with my choices asked “Boeing decision?”

The company called off its nationwide site search in the wee hours of Saturday morning, immediately after word came that its Seattle-area Machinists union had voted to accept a pension-cutting contract to assemble the plane in the Puget Sound area, 51 percent to 49. (stltoday.com)

It was potentially an exciting thing for the region, but with 20+ states competing it wasn’t something we could’ve expected. In the end, Boeing used Missouri and other states to get their contract accepted in Seattle.

McKee’s vision calls for many projects, the first was completed a few years ago (new building on the north edge of downtown). The city will not reenter the county in 2014, though the topic may come up.  The Rams will reach a decision about the Edward Jones Dome, but we’ll see if anyone is excited by their decision.

I think 2014 will be a decent year, but 2015 will be a bigger year.

— 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

 

Poll: Best Thing Expected to Happen in the St. Louis Region in 2014?

Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

2014 will be a busy year in the region with a number of positive things:

  • Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge opens to traffic
  • St. Louis celebrates 250th anniversary
  • Phase One of Ballpark Village opens
  • March Madness basketball tournaments
  • Fields Foods opens

Some things that are controversial in some circles:

  • Same-sex marriages begin in Illinois (mine’s June 8th!)
  • Medical marijuana in Illinois
  • Loop Trolley construction starts

The poll this week asks you to pick one thing you think is the best thing for the region. Because there may be other things happening I didn’t list you can add your own item in the poll (right sidebar).

— Steve Patterson

 

Better Together St. Louis Raises My Suspicions

I’m generally in favor of reducing the number of government entities in the St. Louis region. The 2011 Where We Stand report (p88) sums up the numbers:

We rely on local government for a wide array of services including public education, health and safety, infrastructure, environmental protection and sanitation, public housing, and arts and cultural support.

• The St. Louis region continues to be ranked in the top three for overall number of governmental units, as well as for the ratio of governments to population.

Depending on perspective, the region’s local government structure can be seen as the 3rd most fragmented or the 3rd most accessible to its citizens and businesses.

• With 884 individual units of government,

St. Louis ranks 3rd only to Pittsburgh and Denver among our peer regions in ratio of local governments to citizens.

For the 35 peer regions, the average number of governmental units has decreased from 399 in 2002 to 379 in 2007.

• Of the 35 regions, 20 have fewer governmental units in 2007 than they had in 2002.

In the St. Louis region, the number of units of local government continues to increase.

• Less than half of local government units in the St. Louis region are general-purpose governments, such as counties, municipalities, and townships.

• In 2007, the St. Louis region had 9.8 municipalities per 100,000 population, up from 8.9 municipalities per 100,000 in 2002.

A majority of area local governments have been established for specific functions, including school districts, special taxing districts, or other special district governments.

• Almost all of these special district governments perform a single task, such as drainage and flood control, soil and water conservation, fire protection, water supply, or housing and community development.

• The St. Louis region’s ratio of school districts per population ranked 2nd in 2007 with 4.8 per 100,000 population; slightly lower than the 5.0 per 100,000 reported in 2002.

I’m of the belief that more units of government isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing, just as fewer isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing. I do know the St. Louis region

Herbert (Bert) Walker III, a cousin of George Herbert Walker Bush, speaking at the Better Together kickoff event. Emcees from KMOX, John Hancock and Michael Kelley
George Herbert (Bert) Walker III, a 1st cousin of former president George Herbert Walker Bush, speaking at the Better Together kickoff event. Emcees from KMOX, John Hancock and Michael Kelley, on the right

With this in mind you might think I’d be a cheerleader for the new Better Together Saint Louis effort.

Sponsored by the Missouri Council for a Better Economy, Better Together is a grassroots project born in response to growing public interest in addressing the fragmented nature of local government throughout St. Louis City and County, which dates back to 1876, when St. Louis City broke away from St. Louis County.

The resulting absence of a cohesive governmental structure left a void and many smaller governments formed to fill it. This is why the 1.3 million people who call St. Louis home are served by 116 local governments, which include St. Louis City and County, as well as 91 municipalities and 23 fire districts. The costs associated with funding all 116 governments (excluding airport and water service fees) has reached a staggering $2 billion per year. To-date, there has been no comprehensive single study that has looked across the City and County to determine whether the region could improve both service and cost by streamlining and eliminating redundancies and better serve the people of St. Louis.

Better Together is neither putting forth nor advocating for a specific plan to such end, but rather seeks to act as a facilitator, a resource for information and tools, and a catalyst to spark discussion. Accordingly, we will drive an inclusive, transparent process of developing and assembling valuable information other organizations can use to craft their own plans for what the future of the region should look like, as well as judge plans put forth by others.

I remain a skeptic for a variety of reasons:

  • As I explained earlier, the region is much larger and more complex than just St. Louis City & County.
  • The Missouri Council for a Better Economy was started by Rex Sinquefield, a billionaire seeking to alter tax policy in his favor.
  • “Sponsored by” and “grassroots” in the same sentence! Really, how exactly does that work? Sounds like this might be astroturfing.
  • Just collecting data for the community to decide what to do with it, but the name and MCBE clearly shows reunification as the intent.  Plus, data from the many school districts isn’t being collected because they don’t want to get “bogged down.”  If the mission is to collect data on how tax money is being spent it makes sense to look at it all — what’s the hurry?

Let’s dig a bit deeper into the above reasons I listed.

Region:

Forty-six percent of the region’s population isn’t the region. Granted, this 46% live in the city or county that carry the region’s name. Still, I think something well over 50% is required to discuss a topic as regional in nature. Better together is clearly focused on the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County only, not the region.

MCBE:

From their “About Us” as of 8:30am yesterday “The studies were funded by MCBE, whose sole donor until now has been Rex Sinquefield, a retired investment fund executive and philanthropist.” Oh but they told me he hasn’t given any money in a year. Rex is a fan of chess and I can see a strategy playing out of him giving enough money to fund MCBE for a couple of years  — that way it can be paid he’s the sole donor from the past, but not now. Question for MCBE, how many donors since the last donation from Rex?

Grassroots:

Calling yourself grassroots doesn’t mean you’re actually a grassroots movement. The Better Together STL materials indicate it’s a project of MCBE, not a separate organization. I didn’t find any such organization listed with the Secretary of State. The website  does list a board which is comprised of the powerful & elite of local politics and business. Also on this “board” — Rex’s Chief of Staff. Those in attendance at the kickoff represent more of the same — nothing remotely grassroots about it.

Data:

Several issues here. The speakers all said they’re just collecting data so we know what we spend and where — sounds reasonable. But everywhere you look at Better Together and MCBE the final goal is clear — unification of some sorts. And schools are a big part of where our tax money is spent and school districts are governmental entities just like fire protection districts, we should look at education too if the goal is an honest self evaluation.

While I support reducing the number of units of government my goal isn’t to provide the same services for less money, as was stated several times. My goal would be to provide more services distributed more evenly for the same money.

Unfortunately, I see Better Together  & MCBE as a backdoor to Rex’s radical tax policies — no state income taxes, no city earnings taxes, higher property & sales taxes.  The wealthy’s fantasy to get out of paying their share, they can easily buy any services the community can’t afford to provide.   Some will claim this has bipartisan support, but our Democrats are often that in name only, they’re as fiscally conservative policy-wise as far-right Republicans.  I keep hoping a local version of Bernie Sanders will appear. I want to believe  this is an altruistic effort, but I’m not gullible.

I’d like to see an actual grassroots effort look at our region with an open mind — perhaps even concluding nothing should change with respect to the relationship between the city & county.

— Steve Patterson

 

Advertisement



FACEBOOK POSTS

More than a week after the big snow and #ada curb ramps are still blocked, this is 9th/Cole. Hard to ⁦‪Explore St. Louis‬⁩ when snow is pushed into pedestrian route. #stl ... See MoreSee Less

14 hours ago  ·  

Couldn’t board the #32‬⁩ bus at the 10th/O’Fallon bus stop because the #ADA ramp was used for storing snow. Bus made a 2nd stop to pick me up. #stl ... See MoreSee Less

5 days ago  ·  

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe