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Planners announce open-air, riverfront NFL stadium

Planners announce open-air, riverfront NFL stadium

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Dave Peacock announced plans Friday for a new open air football stadium on the St. Louis riverfront.

"This is about the future … and that we need to fight for what is rightfully ours," Peacock said.

The facility would feature 64,000 seats, with 7,500 club seats. Financing the project, he said, would involve public and private money, as well as seat licenses paid by fans.

"There are ways to source public financing and do it with the same or less burden on the taxpayers," Peacock said.

Gov. Jay Nixon appointed Peacock, former Anheuser Busch president, and Edward Jones dome attorney Bob Blitz to develop a plan to keep professional football in St. Louis.

The new stadium would also accommodate soccer.

Peacock called the project more than a football stadium: "We are talking about a revitalization of our downtown."

Details of financing the $860 million to $985 million estimated cost are included in the report he turned over to Nixon. An estimated $400 million to $450 million would come from the National Football League and the team. An additional $460 million to $535 million would come from public sources, including extending current bonds, brownfield tax credits and up to $130 million in seat licenses.

"Our vision is a redevelopment of the North Riverfront. … There's green area, there's trailways, there's pathways."

Site preparation would begin by June, according to the plan. The stadium would open for the 2020 NFL season.

Peacock said the plan would eradicate blight and turn the area into a crown jewel. Thirty-three buildings are in the project area, and a majority are vacant, he said. The city owns one-fourth of the land. The plan preserves the 1902 Power and Light Building.

Redevelopment of this area is imperative for the health of the St. Louis community, he said.

Interest rates are pretty low right now. "If you're going to do something, now is sort of the time to do it; money is a little cheaper. … We see a healthy sense of urgency behind this project."

HOK here and 360 Architecture in Kansas City worked on the design, he said.

Bob Blitz recalled that in the 1990s St. Louis built a stadium without a football team. Now, it has a team, with an "obsolete" stadium, Blitz said.

The current Edward Jones Dome would become "a competitive asset to use" to attract conventions, Peacock said.

The news of the stadium plan comes on the heels of an announcement Monday that St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke and an investment group will build a privately financed 80,000-seat stadium as part of a massive revitalization of Inglewood, Calif.

Some have expected the Rams to leave St. Louis for years, since the team engaged in a lengthy battle over upgrades required by its lease with the Edward Jones Dome. Two years ago, the city lost the battle, when a three-member arbitration panel ruled in favor of the Rams’ request for publicly financed renovations worth perhaps $700 million. Dome authorities declined, giving the Rams the option to go year-to-year on the team lease.

Nixon said the Rams have until Jan. 28 to inform the Dome of the team decision.

In a statement Friday, Nixon thanked Peacock and Blitz for their work on the stadium plan and said he spoke with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell earlier this week about the effort. 

"This proposal would not only protect St. Louis’s status as an NFL city, it would also provide the opportunity to redevelop underutilized areas of the city and create jobs," Nixon said in a written statement.

An unsanctioned Rams move to Los Angeles could raise the ire of league officials and owners.

Come back to STLtoday.com for more on this story. 

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