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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


What the passage of Proposition “A” can mean for the St. Louis region

ABOVE: St. Louis County Executive Charlie A Dooley
ABOVE: St. Louis County Executive Charlie "A" Dooley, August 2006

Tuesday April 6, 2010 voters in St. Louis County will decide the fate of Proposition A — a 1/2 cent sales tax to match the same tax previously approved by voters in the City of St. Louis.  Revenues would be used to fund existing operations and expand service of our regional public transit.

I decided to put together list of what “A” can do for the region:

  1. Accelerate: strong transit will accelerate the trend toward filling in the core rather than pushing outward at the edges.  This helps ensure those folks who moved to the edge won’t be surrounded by new construction.
  2. Accessible: public transit makes going from home to work accessible to many.  This applies to those of us with disabilities as well as those without access to an automobile. Getting our citizens to work, school is important for a strong region.
  3. Accomplish: dedicated funding is critical to a healthy  transit transit system.  Prop. A will accomplish the goal of creating a dedicated funding source for operations.
  4. Achieve: St. Louis will be closer to achieving the type of transit system a strong region needs to have to compete in the 21st century.
  5. Activate: transit helps create activity.  Transit riders are often pedestrians on part of their total trip.  Their activity creates a buzz around stations & stops.  More transit and more riders that will activate our sidewalks.
  6. Adjust: we will adjust our ideas about transit and what it means to the region, even if we don’t use the system ourselves (or just rarely).
  7. Affirm: passage will affirm our commitment to a regional transit network.  This affirmation will send a strong message to companies and people considering the St. Louis region as a future location.
  8. Affordable: as we saw when service was cut back people couldn’t get to work.  Employers need their employees at work.  Our region can’t afford to not have a functioning transit system.  We can’t afford to not pass this tax.
  9. Attainable: with dedicated funding Metro can attain a decent level of service for the region through both rail & bus transit.
  10. Augment: we will be able to augment the current system to better serve the core of the region, including St. Louis County.

For more information the on Proposition A see the Yes on A website at moremetrolink.com.

– Steve Patterson


Local restaurants getting head start on competition, going smoke-free before required by new laws

January 30, 2010 Smoke Free, STL Region 26 Comments

Some food & drink establishments are holding out until the very last minute, January 2, 2011, to go smoke-free.  In the City of St. Louis non-food bars under a certain size have until January 2, 2016.   Smart money, however, is on local establishments that are going smoke-free prior to the start dates of the smoke-free laws in St. Louis City & County.  By doing so they will have time to attract a non-smoking clientele before other places go smoke-free.

Two such recently smoke-free places are:

ABOVE: Hodaks Restaurant is now smoke-free
ABOVE: Hodak's Restaurant is now smoke-free

A year from now all food establishments in the city & county will be smoke-free.   Addicted chain smokers will likely resort to the drive-thru because not smoking for a meal is just too difficult for them.  Non-smokers will likely stick to places they always go to while trying out a few newly smoke-free establishments.

Recently Mangia Italiano on South Grand put out an online  survey to get a sense if they too should go smoke-free prior to before required to by law.  The response must have been very positive because on Wednesday (Jan/27) they will be smoke-free starting March 1st:

IMPORTANT NEWS: We are proud to announce that our restaurant will go Smoke Free on March 1! Thanks to all of our fans for your comments!”

If you own or manage an establishment that allows smoking understand that by waiting until the last minute to go smoke-free you may well have a hard time finding new customers.

– Steve Patterson


Recovery Act high-speed rail announcement in St. Louis

ABOVE: Dr. Ed Montgomery (center) at press cponference in St. Louis on 1/28/2010.
ABOVE: Dr. Ed Montgomery (center) at press cponference in St. Louis on 1/28/2010.

Yesterday, across the country, announcements were being made regarding $8 billion in federal grants from the Recovery Act.  One of those announcements took place in St. Louis.   I was there for the announcement and captured the entire press conference on video so you can view the entire event.

#1 – Opening with Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Dept Admin Karen Rae (Dept Admin Transportation Dept):


#2 – Dr. Ed Montgomery (White House Exec Dir for Auto Communities and Workers):


#3 – U.S. Congressman Russ Carnahan (D-3rd):


#4 – Question  & Answer:


#5 – Missouri Senator Joan Bray (D-24):


Another press conference will be held today (Friday 1/29/2010) at the Amtrak station in Alton IL.  It will be years before the St. Louis-Chicago connection is complete but as was said this $8 billion is only a down payment.  The federal government subsidized the interstate highway system for decades while ignoring passenger rail. Chicago will be the center of a network of high-speed rail lines, our proximity is good.

“A White House official visited St. Louis today to announce $1.1 billion in stimulus money for high-speed rail between St. Louis and Chicago and another $31 million to upgrade passenger rail service between St. Louis and Kansas City.” (St. Louis-Chicago high-speed rail gets $1.1B in stimulus)

Improving city-to-city rail transit will increase the ability for someone living in the St. Louis region to go car-free.  Residents on both sides of the Mississippi River can take MetroLink to the St. Louis Amtrak station and travel to Chicago and beyond.  I look forward to taking a high-speed train to Chicago.

– Steve Patterson