March 16, 2015

New Study on City Spending Confirms What We Already Know

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Photo: Union Station in Kansas City by Dual Freq

Visitors to Show-Me Daily have probably come across the numerous ways that Kansas City has wasted money. Now, it’s possible that these were isolated incidents. However, WalletHub published  a new study that points to Kansas City having a larger, systemic problem with how it spends taxpayer dollars.

According to this study, Kansas City ranks 61st out of 65 cities in regards to spending efficiency. I won’t bore you with all of the gritty details on how WalletHub came up with their figures. The Reader’s Digest version is that this study divides a city’s total park acreage, test scores, and crime rate by it’s per person spending on parks, education, and police. The city with the highest quotient is the “most efficient”.

Besides pointing out the ways that Kansas City has wasted money, the Show-Me Institute has also shown that Kansas City spends a lot of money overall. In a 2013 case study, I examined St. Louis and Kansas City’s per person expenditures compared to six other other cities. Kansas City spent the 3rd most, just barely behind Denver. The case study didn’t say whether Kansas City was being efficient or not with taxpayer money, but with such high spending, the chance for inefficiencies increased. The WalletHub Study lends further credence to the notion that Kansas City taxpayers aren’t getting the best bang for their bucks.

The WalletHub study isn’t the definitive work on city spending, but it should serve notice to policymakers that maybe Kansas City should take a good look at how to improve the way it runs things.

March 5, 2015

Domes, Development, and Downtown Saint Louis

A couple weeks ago, I filmed a video in the Bottle District, just north of the Edward Jones Dome, in which I talked about how unlikely it is that a new football stadium will spark urban regeneration. The area north of the existing dome illustrates the fact that being near a football stadium is certainly no guarantee of development. The economic literature supports this observation.

Some, however, have criticized this characterization and claim that Washington Avenue developments (and downtown growth in general) are examples of regeneration that can be tied to a football stadium cum convention center.

The idea that the Edward Jones Dome has led to a rebirth of Saint Louis is mistaken for a number of reasons. First, the success of downtown can be overstated, and should be taken in context. Consider the changes in population density in Saint Louis City as a whole from 2000 to 2013:

stl-2000-2013v2

 

As the census data above illustrate, the city’s population density has been falling in general, as the city shrinks to a few core neighborhoods. While the areas within one mile of the Edward Jones Dome did add population from 2000 to 2013, the total magnitude of the increase is small (4,475 residents) and represents growth from a very small base. In 2010, Saint Louis had the 18th largest metro area population, but it had only the 88th greatest population within one mile of city hall.

Even if one sees the modest growth (in an abnormally under-populated downtown) as major progress, it is a stretch to attribute that growth to the Edward Jones Dome. While it was an expensive project ($280 million in 1992 dollars), development has not radiated from the Dome, as the empty Bottle District can attest. Most of the growth in population is further west along Washington Avenue, likely due to the extensive use of tax subsidies in the area, not the Dome. Incentives from 1999 to 2011 within one mile of the Dome are shown along with population density changes from 2000 to 2013 below:

ejd

As we have written before, pushing development downtown via subsidies and lopsided public investment has been the consistent strategy of city hall. All told, from 1999 to 2011, more than $472 million in tax credits have been awarded within a mile of the Edward Jones Dome. With a total population growth just under 4,500 residents, that’s more than $100,000 in tax credits per resident gained.

One would think that if a football stadium drew in residents, such subsidies would be unnecessary. There would be plenty of development north, south, east, and west of the stadium. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. And it’s not likely to be the case with a new riverfront stadium either, unless you consider a sea of parking to be development.

February 23, 2015

Why Cities Are Bad at Bargaining With Sports Teams

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Don’t look now, but there’s a land rush for the Los Angeles pro football market. Saint Louisans will already be familiar with Stan Kroenke’s plan to move the Rams to a stadium in Inglewood. But now the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders, unhappy that their localities are not coughing up public funds for new stadiums, are also publicizing a plan to move to L.A.

Three teams will not be playing in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, but it allows all three franchises to simultaneously frighten local politicians into spending public dollars on a stadium. From an owner like Stan Kroenke’s point of view, it’s a win-win scenario. If the NFL allows him to move the Rams, his team will instantly gain $1.5 to $2.5 billion in value. And if he can’t (or never wanted to), Missouri has already planned to fund half the costs of a new stadium without any negotiation at all.

For Missourians, local officials have essentially locked residents into two possibilities: 1) approve around $400 million in public dollars for a new stadium, or 2) lose the Rams. Of course, the Rams might move regardless and Kroenke might demand more than $400 million to stay, but that’s what comes from committing the state to half the costs as the opening offer.

This situation is a perfect example of how poorly local officials fare when they bargain for taxpayers against billionaire-owned sports franchises. Where Stan Kroenke can credibly appear ready to leave the Saint Louis market without firm public subsidies, local officials declare how necessary the Rams are to the state. While Kroenke can strengthen his position and fail to negotiate, local officials need to be seen as trying their hardest to make sure Saint Louis is an “NFL city,” even when that means negotiating against themselves.

In essence, Stan Kroenke can look at this like a business negotiation. But local politicians are not spending their own money and have to be concerned about portraying an image of effectiveness and bolstering civic pride, making them poor bargaining agents for regional economies.

Even when there is no threat of a team leaving a lucrative market, pro teams can still reap public subsidies by threatening to move to different municipalities in the metro area. While it might not hurt the Chicago regional economy one bit if the Bears played in Rosemont (a nearby suburb), it would hurt the city’s tax revenue as recreation dollars flow to a different part of the region. Whether the team’s option is moving across the country or the county, pro franchises almost always have the best alternative to a negotiated agreement vis-à-vis local governments.

The best bargaining tool local officials can have is a skeptical voter base that understands that pro franchises do not create economic development or urban regeneration. Residents can vote against public dollars for entertainment venues. That constrains the local officials and sends a clear message to the NFL that Saint Louis is a great sports market, not a great mark.

February 21, 2015

Ditching City Hall: A Kansas City Development Story

Kansas City has a low population density for a city its size. How low? According to the Census Bureau, Kansas City had a population of around 2 million in 2010, making it the 29th largest city in the United States by metro population. However, in terms of population density, Kansas City had roughly 2,326 residents per square mile, making it the 129th densest city in the country, just ahead of Poughkeepsie, N.Y. (population 670,000).

In terms of population distribution, only around 216,000 residents live less than five miles from city hall, whereas the average city of Kansas City’s metro population has close to 400,000 residents living within the first five miles. Cincinnati, the 27th largest city by total metro population, has more than double the total population density of Kansas City within the first two miles outside of city hall, with just over 316,000 residents living within five miles of its city hall.

kc_dens

 

Kansas City’s low population near its city hall results in low population density at the city core. Similar to Saint Louis, Kansas City’s average population density is lower within two miles of its city hall than it is slightly further away from downtown, as the map below demonstrates:

map_kc_dens

Also like Saint Louis, the story of Kansas City’s development is actually one of decreasing density. Aside from the area right around city hall, Kansas City’s core (within eight miles of city hall) lost both population and population density on average between 2000 to 2010. Steady population growth only accrued in the city center and in low-density areas further than eight miles from city hall.

Map_kc_denchange

Many individual areas close to downtown are doing well. However, much like Saint Louis, those gains are outweighed by losses in other areas equidistant from Kansas City’s downtown. Furthermore, they are decreasing in precisely the areas where residents most rely on transit.

These types of population movements are not exclusive to Kansas City. City governments (especially Kansas City) often spend hundreds of millions adding amenities and subsidizing development downtown. And while the most visible parts of the city show modest improvement, structural problems in the city’s competitiveness and broad economic forces continue to erode population in traditionally poor, working-class, and middle-class neighborhoods.

Whether city hall can alter these trends is debatable. What is not contested is that, despite some increased density right downtown, Kansas City has a comparatively low population density that shows little evidence of rapid, or for that matter any, increase. When it comes to providing public services that depend on high densities to function efficiently, like transit, if the city plans under the pretense that it is as dense and centralized as, say, Cincinnati, it may end up providing worse service to the vast majority of residents, even as it favors certain sections of the city.

February 18, 2015

Ditching City Hall: A Saint Louis Development Story

We’ve said it on this blog many times before: Saint Louis has low population density. The population is widely spread among multiple counties in Missouri and Illinois, with a much-reduced core city and growing population and employment centers far away from downtown.

We have shown census tracts representing Saint Louis’ population distribution before. However, a different way to view the data is to consider metro population within certain distances from a central point (in this case city hall), allowing easier city-to-city comparisons. When we compare Saint Louis to cities of similar population, we observe that the city has abnormally low population density in its core. According to 2010 Census figures, Saint Louis had the 18th largest MSA population (2,812,896), but only the 31st largest population within 10 miles of city hall. For example, compared to Baltimore, with a slightly smaller population than Saint Louis (2,710,489 in 2010), Saint Louis has a larger metro area but much lower densities close to the city center.

Presentation1

In fact, the area within a mile of the Saint Louis city hall has a lower population density (5,020 per square mile) than most of the rest of the city. This is atypical among peer cities, which have their highest densities downtown (averaging 9,000 per square mile). The map below shows population density in Saint Louis in concentric one-mile rings radiating from city hall:

Distance_from_city_hall_final

In addition, contrary to the narrative of a rebounding core, the city’s population density fell most in Saint Louis City from 2000 to 2010, as the map below demonstrates:

Pecentage change Pop_dens

Population did increase in certain neighborhoods in the central corridor and in the heart of downtown Saint Louis. And the growth downtown is somewhat misleading because of the incredibly low base it grew from: in 2000, the population density less than one mile from the courthouse was a mere 3,870 persons per square mile. And in the city as a whole, notable neighborhood gains are more than made up for by loses in areas to the north, south, and east of those improving neighborhoods. Looking at the region as a whole, outside of the heart of downtown, population density only showed steady growth in areas further than 25 miles away from city hall.

Saint Louis’ low population density and abnormal population distribution has important implications for the provision of public services. For example, when the type of service provision relies on density (such as with transit), it may be better for the city to model its service on other cities with similar densities rather than ones with similar MSA population totals. In addition, the pretense that Saint Louis’ downtown is (or should be) the dense economic engine of the region that drives much of regional planning may be inappropriate and result in misaligned public services.

However, the abnormal situation of Saint Louis’ downtown is also a reason to hope. Other cities show that there is a market for downtown living, and perhaps if the officials focus on safety and service instead of big-bang projects, organic growth will take hold. Or maybe they’ll build a new football stadium instead.

February 13, 2015

An Imminent Eminent Domain Case

When most Saint Louisans think about eminent domain abuses, they tend to conjure up thoughts of Maplewood razing neighborhoods in order to build a Walmart or Clayton trying to seize land to hand over to Centene. But what of eminent domain in the case of government agencies? Can that justify taking families’ homes?

If you are a Saint Louis City alderman who wants to keep the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) from moving to Fenton or Mehlville or even possibly Scott Air Force Base, there is a good chance that you’d say yes. That’s why plans to use eminent domain to seize property as part of the plan to keep the NGA in Saint Louis are moving forward. Yet despite this “progress,” that doesn’t mean the aldermen are correct. For the people of North Saint Louis, the abuse of eminent domain is imminent.

Eminent domain has a legitimate purpose. Sometimes it is necessary to seize property to use for the public good, such as highways or sewers. Yet, there is no reason in this case to think that using eminent domain would serve as a public good. Unlike highways, which must go more-or-less in a straight line, the new NGA headquarters is flexible in how it is laid out and where it can locate. Even if the NGA moves to the county or to Scott Air Force Base, NGA employees living in the city are unlikely to move. Why violate somebody’s private property rights when it is not necessary?

The truth is that the city stands to lose millions in earnings taxes if the NGA moves out. It’s understandable, especially when budgets are tight, that the city would want to try anything to avoid losing even more revenue. However, people’s homes matter more than extra tax revenue. Being hard up for money doesn’t give the city a valid reason to take people’s homes.

February 12, 2015

The Star Responds to Show-Me Daily Post

We were gratified to learn that members of the Kansas City Star editorial board read our humble blog. In a Wednesday afternoon column, Yael Abouhalkah took on the matter of the costly Power & Light District to respond to our post the previous day on the same topic.

Abouhalkah starts off where our post on the matter leaves off, a 2006 quote from then-Mayor Kay Barnes about how they’ll be seen as “geniuses” for saddling the city with a $15 million annual debt. He then moves on to conclude that, well, that’s okay.

City officials took bold moves to finally try to eliminate a lot of blight and reinvest in a more vibrant downtown through the Power & Light District, hoping it would lead to even more reinvestment in the city’s central core, wooing residents and companies.

While the downtown area has seen an uptick in residents, the city at-large is floundering. Even the creative-class millennials that we hear so much about are coming to Kansas City in much lower numbers than our peer cities. Some even suggest the trend of young educated people moving to urban areas has peaked.

As for jobs, even Abouhalkah admitted on last week’s episode of Ruckus that there hasn’t been job creation downtown. Tax revenue from restaurants and hotels has not kept pace with inflation, and the number of liquor licenses and bartender permits has decreased over the past several years. So much for a successful entertainment district. But hey, they respond, we built pretty buildings. (And built them near the Star‘s headquarters!)

As for a solution, Abouhalkah suggests more of the same:

Looking forward, I hope the city has learned its lesson and will help build a convention hotel with the lowest possible use of taxpayer subsidies.

Sadly, such sentiment is nothing more than the triumph of hope over experience. Time and again we read of awful city-negotiated deals like Power & Light, Citadel, and Burns & McDonnell while the real city core is left to fend for itself. We can’t wait another nine years for columnists to regret their current support of the latest taxpayer-subsidized scheme.

The mayor and city council seem to be waging a border war of their own, but instead of fighting neighboring states or cities, they’ve pitched downtown versus the rest of the city in an economic civil war.

February 11, 2015

The Big Bad Bet

People of goodwill can debate some of the proper functions of government, but I think most of us can agree that gambling with taxpayer money is not one of them. Yet that’s what is happening with this Rams stadium situation. Public officials are betting that a new stadium will be a winner for the region and for taxpayers.

Yesterday, Gov. Nixon announced that Ameren and Terminal Railroad have agreed to make adjustments to their assets (moving power lines and rail lines) so that the proposed new stadium on the riverfront can be built. I guess he thinks that’s good news, and it would be if it was the only thing standing in the way of a private developer wanting to build a new stadium on the riverfront, but that’s not the only thing.

The key ingredient to this project moving forward is that we are going to have to cough up more of our money ($405 million to be exact) to help finance this thing. Now it’s possible that such an investment could be worth the price tag if it will lead to redevelopment of the surrounding area. That’s what the governor believes. What’s the evidence that there will be redevelopment? It didn’t happen when we financed construction of the Edward Jones Dome. Why is this time different?

Gov. Nixon also stressed that if we did nothing, the city and state would lose out on millions in income tax revenue. It’s true, players do pay earnings taxes, but how much more money will we have to spend in order to make sure we still get those income taxes? Overall, will taxpayers see more in added tax revenue than the amount they had to pay in subsidies? It’s possible, but it’s also equally (if not more) likely that taxpayers would lose money. That’s why this whole thing feels like gambling, but at least at the casino you know the odds before you play. That’s not the case here. How much will players’ salaries grow (which influence income tax revenue)? How many people from out of state will visit the region to watch the Rams (this affects how much new sales taxes we get)? These questions and many more will affect the amount of added revenue the region will receive. It’s an awfully big risk to be taking with public money, and honestly we shouldn’t be giving a billionaire (Rams owner Stan Kroenke) taxpayer money on the hope that we MIGHT see a positive return.

Yesterday’s press conference was supposed to be an encouraging sign for those who want to keep the Rams here in Saint Louis. For me, it looked like someone was putting down a big marker on the roulette table with our money on the line. No matter if the project lands in the red or the black, in the end Stan Kroenke is going to be getting green.

February 10, 2015

A Tale Full of Power & Light, Signifying Nothing

PowerLight_KCPL

Kansas City leaders want to point to downtown as a great monument to government planning. Look at the revitalization, they say. But given the high cost of the investment and the low return in jobs and businesses, taxpayers should be wary of this so-called success.

We’ve written recently on the premise underlying the investment of downtown and found it lacking. The very notion that those sought-after millennials are moving to urban areas is contested. That they are doing so in Kansas City in any fashion worthy of public cost is demonstrably false. That the city is seeing any financial benefit to the development is likewise risible.

Even the Kansas City Star, which has championed the profligate spending downtown, had to report on the failure:

Nick Benjamin of Cordish, executive director of the Power & Light District, thinks the debt shouldn’t overshadow all the positives, and in other ways the city’s investment has more than paid for itself.

“The point of Power & Light and the city’s investment wasn’t solely for Power & Light,” he said. “It was to revitalize downtown. It’s hard to argue that’s not happening.”

It’s happening? Certainly, the city has paid for very expensive buildings that weren’t there before, but what about this “revitalization”? We wondered if there was any way to justify the expenditures for the Power & Light District based on the number of entertainment venues or jobs or the tax revenue they generated. Given that the city is on the hook for $15 million each year to cover business losses, any increase would have to be substantial. Unfortunately, there appears to be no growth in any of our measures.

According to the city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), tax revenue from hotels and restaurants grew 16.56 percent, from 2006 to 2014. According to the inflation calculator at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, inflation for that same period was 17 percent—meaning revenue growth from Kansas City hotel and restaurant tax was exactly flat.

In response to a Sunshine Request to the Regulated Industries Division in Kansas City, we learned that from 2007 to 2014 the number of businesses possessing licenses to sell liquor dropped over 13 percent from 870 to 769. Likewise, the number of employee liquor permits, such as those required of bartenders, dropped 7.5 percent from 11,767 to 10,937. In both cases these declines were slow and steady over time.

Kansas City did not get a hockey team or a basketball team out of the downtown development. It did not get a concert venue that it didn’t already have in Kemper. It did not see a net gain in jobs or businesses. It did not see an increase in tax revenue. However, it did get more debt to be paid out of city coffers—meaning less money for roads, parks, and public safety. And the city will be paying that debt for a long time. According to the same Star piece:

Even with a double-digit bump in sales, it’s not nearly what was anticipated in 2004, when consultants projected that new city and state tax revenues paid by the district’s residents and businesses would be able to cover the debt.

“I don’t think there will be a point at any time in the foreseeable future, probably the next 20 years, where it actually pays for itself,” acknowledged City Manager Troy Schulte.

Back in April 2006, the Kansas City Star quoted then-Mayor Kay Barnes:

“We’re going to look like geniuses” in five or 10 years, Barnes said. The city is paying low interest rates for projects that are capable of paying off the debt, she added.

Whoops! If this is genius and the downtown development is a success, it is the sort of genius and success that Kansas City cannot afford.

February 9, 2015

Kansas City, Millennial Magnet?

In a previous piece, we examined some of the research dealing with millennials, where they choose to live and whether any associated growth will be long lasting. In a New York Times story claiming that millennials are seeking urban areas, a think tank called City Observatory listed the top U.S. cities and their population aged 25 to 34 who had a four-year degree.

If you only look at the close-in downtown neighborhoods, defined by the study as those “within 3 miles of the center of the central business district,” Kansas City saw an increase of 63 percent over the past 12 years. Compared to our peer cities, this is impressive. (See Table 1.) So supporters of using taxpayer dollars to subsidize development might argue their profligate spending is working.

Table 1: Downtown Population; 25-34 with Four-Year Degree
City 2000 2012 Pct.Chg.
St. Louis 3.094 7,371 138%
Indianapolis-Carmel 3,235 5,386 67%
Kansas City 2,640 4,294 63%
Denver-Aurora 20,985 31,678 51%
Oklahoma City 2,173 3,048 40%
Louisville-Jefferson Co. 4,418 5,683 29%

But the data about cities as a whole is not so positive. Of those same cities, Kansas City as a whole ranked last in growth of this sought-after population. (See Table 2.) The average population increase for this demographic in all 51 cities was 25.2 percent. Kansas City came in below that.

Table 2: City-wide Population; 25-34 with Four-Year Degree
City 2000 2012 Pct.Chg.
Oklahoma City 39,114 61,331 56.8%
Denver-Aurora 163,367 239,524 46.6%
Indianapolis-Carmel 74,073 96,633 30.5%
Louisville-Jefferson Co. 41,679 53,489 28.3%
St. Louis 108,723 138,806 25.8%
Kansas City 89,205 107,061 20.0%

City leaders have put their faith in an idea about urban millennials that may or may not be legitimate. In doing so they have diverted funds from projects and services throughout the city to build and maintain things downtown such as the streetcar and Power and Light District. But any subsequent population growth downtown is dwarfed by population stagnation elsewhere.

The argument over attracting urban dwellers is hotly contested. Regardless of who is right, Kansas City is not seeing much success, and economic development is more cannibalization than growth. Residents in the north, south, and east should be wary of sacrificing their own needs in favor of a downtown strategy that so far isn’t working.

February 4, 2015

The Myth of the Urban Millennial

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The debate over what millennials want continues to rage in Kansas City and elsewhere. City leaders are spending gobs of taxpayer money on entertainment districts, streetcars, and subsidized housing in hopes that the so-called creative class will flock there. But the evidence to support such efforts is weak and growing weaker with time.

The New York Times published a column recently about where young college-educated people are choosing to live. The author wrote:

[A]s young people continue to spurn the suburbs for urban living, more of them are moving to the very heart of cities — even in economically troubled places like Buffalo and Cleveland. The number of college-educated people age 25 to 34 living within three miles of city centers has surged, up 37 percent since 2000, even as the total population of these neighborhoods has slightly shrunk.

Yet a Wall Street Journal piece, published just last week, reports:

A survey released Wednesday by the National Association of Home Builders, a trade group, suggested otherwise. The survey, based on responses from 1,506 people born since 1977, found that most want to live in single-family homes outside of the urban center, even if they now reside in the city.

A recent article in Business Insider suggests that the era of young professionals living in urban areas has peaked:

But a decade from now, the landscape will look very different. Millennials will pair up and have kids and want space. Cities, particularly the megacities like New York and Chicago, aren’t likely to become more affordable.

Demographics are destiny. That big bulge of younger millennials visible in the population pyramid is going to be hitting the prime age range for marriage and having kids in the next few years, and it’s likely that many of those new families will move out to the burbs (or further!).

The true cost of revitalizing downtown may be more than the city can bear. Kansas City cannot afford to operate its own fountains and is cutting funds to public safety services. It cannot cover bad investments without taking money from the airport, it neglects the real urban core, and it relies on charity to meet basic city services. Kansas City needs to have a debate on these economic development assumptions, especially because there is so little money left to give away.

January 29, 2015

It’s Groundhog Day for Saint Louis and NFL Stadiums

The story is everywhere: Saint Louis is in danger of losing its NFL team because the city’s current stadium is outdated. With the team on the verge of moving, state officials have developed a plan for a new publicly financed state-of-the-art stadium, but it may be too late. The owner sees greener pastures out west, and, after year upon year of subpar play on the field, fan support is tepid. They may not support using public dollars to finance a new domed stadium.

Screen shot 2015-01-29 at 3.57.42 PM

That’s right, this story is not about the Rams; it’s about the St. Louis Football Cardinals circa 1988. But the stories are so similar that, if the Post-Dispatch were to change the date, a few proper nouns, and replace “dome” with “open-air stadium,” they could easily republish articles written decades ago.

If Saint Louis’ position is analogous to the one it experienced in 1988, there is much reason for caution. Back then the conventional wisdom was that domed stadiums were the future and open-air venues were a thing of the past. As one Post-Dispatch writer put it, “A domed multi-purpose building, involving an enlarged convention center, would not be the white elephant of an isolated, open-air athletic stadium.”* Despite the last-ditch stadium proposal, the Cardinals moved anyway.

But that did not stop plans for a dome. Then, as today, regional leaders claimed that having an NFL team was a boon for the local economy and city pride. Thus, building a new stadium was the “progressive” action, and it was needed to “compete for sports, convention and political bucks.”* In the area of urban development, the Post-Dispatch published articles about how the RCA Dome transformed downtown Indianapolis, hinting at similar results for Saint Louis. In a demonstration of an uncritical, keeping up with the Joneses mindset that too often guides municipal governance, one prominent stadium plan supporter commented, “You know, the other cities that have built domes are not totally stupid.”* When state and local residents voted to go forward with a publically financed dome, one Post-Dispatch columnist claimed that it “all sounds like a dream.”*

Now the dream is over. While Saint Louis eventually lured the Rams in 1995, it did so with a sweetheart deal that has been described as the “worst lease ever,” part of which frees the Rams to leave the city after only 20 years. The dome, which was described as “cutting-edge” and even “intimate”* in 1995, is regularly maligned. In fact, talk of the dome being out of date began as early as 2007, just 12 years after it was completed. As for urban regeneration, other than the heavily subsidized developments on Washington Avenue, progress has been limited and certainly not centered on the dome.

The history of the Edward Jones Dome demonstrates the pitfalls of using public dollars to chase the NFL. Perhaps that will cause Missourians and public officials to be more skeptical of the new stadium proposal. But then again, you know, the other cities that have built open-air stadiums are not totally stupid.

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