By Ken Reed

A plan to build a new football stadium in St. Louis is moving forward and the city’s citizens won’t be allowed to vote on it.

“We should have the right to check a box yes or no,” says St. Louis resident Mark Kustelski. “Whatever the city decides I’m fine, but it’s the democratic process I’m really a fan of.”

Stephen Conway, chair of the Board of Aldermen’s Ways and Means Committee, which is considering a bill to fund part of the new stadium’s construction costs, said a public vote was out of the picture because the NFL required funding to be in place before voters return to the polls.

I guess the NFL is running St. Louis these days …

According to St. Louis Public Radio, under the terms of the legislation and a financing plan, the city would issue about $70 million in bonds that would be paid off over a roughly 35-year period. The city would pay between $4.5 million and $8.99 million a year in debt service through 2051, which amounts to a little more than $233 million when accounting for interest.

“I’m confident that we should be able to move it through” the Board of Aldermen, said Board of Aldermen member Tammika Hubbard.

Many St. Louis residents say they have nothing against sports but are upset about what they see as warped priorities in St. Louis.

“This is about the financial impact of the residents of the city of St. Louis, who all of you are elected to represent,” said St. Louis resident Andrew Arkill.

“I don’t hate sports. I don’t hate football. I don’t hate the Rams. I don’t even hate the idea of building new stadiums. What I am concerned about is the public financing of these stadiums, especially when the financing package doesn’t offer an attractive return on investment.”

Not every Aldermen agrees with Hubbard when it comes to using public dollars to help fund the new stadium.

Count Alderman Christine Ingrassia as one who questions the rationality millions of public dollars going to a football stadium.

“I think people are upset because we have critical infrastructure needs that we’re not addressing with respect to bridges and roads in the 6th Ward – parks, rec centers and levels of crime,” said Ingrassia.

“And we keep telling constituents and residents that we don’t have the money to fix those things, but somehow we’re going to come up with money to indebt the city for a number of years and still not address those needs.

“When you have people living in third world conditions and squalor, and we find revenue and resources for a stadium Downtown when we already have a stadium, shame on you, shame on you, shame on you.”

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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