The Edward Jones Dome saga continues. I previously blogged about this topic and there is a new development. It seems the St. Louis Rams have rejected the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission (CVC) plan (price tag: $124 million, of which the Rams will pay $64 million) to renovate the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams have until May 1 to offer a counter-proposal on what they would like in regards to renovations to the Dome.
Does it strike anyone as worrisome that in economic times such as these, public officials are scrambling to work out a way to funnel public money into a sports stadium housing a team that a billionaire owns and is in the process of trying to acquire another sports team? When the Dallas Cowboys built their $1.15 billion stadium, the Jones family (the owner of the Cowboys) contributed $261 million to building the stadium. In fact, less than 30 percent of the new stadium was financed with public money. The CVC’s first proposal did not indicate how the non-Rams portion (close to $60 million) of the plan would be financed, but it seems that the CVC will turn to the state of Missouri, Saint Louis County, and Saint Louis City, who put forth the original financing for the Dome’s construction. The Rams rejected this proposal. It seems disquieting to think about how much the Rams will ask from the public for the upgrades they want.
What justification do the state, Saint Louis County, and Saint Louis City have for spending public money to help a private sports franchise, beyond civic pride? I previously cited a study that the St. Louis Federal Reserve conducted showing that in most cases, building or refurbishing a sports stadium has NO impact on that city’s real per-capita personal income growth and in the case of Saint Louis, the impact was a NEGATIVE one. Here is the exact quote:
Moreover, Baade found that of the 30 metro areas where the stadium or arena was built or refurbished in the previous 10 years, only three areas showed a significant relationship between the presence of a stadium and real per-capita personal income growth. And in all three cases — St. Louis, San Francisco/Oakland and Washington, D.C. — the relationship was negative.
Given this finding, it is hard to find a compelling reason as to why the state, Saint Louis County, and/or Saint Louis City should provide ANY public funding to the Edward Jones Dome and so far, it seems that public officials have yet to provide one.