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$35 Million MU Stadium Bond Proposed in Senate

April 12, 2001
By: Ben Paynter
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Sen. Ken Jacob, D-Columbia, proposed a $35 million bond issuance Thursday as part of efforts to secure a new basketball arena for MU.

The resolution authorizes the Missouri Health and Educational Facilities Authority to issue bonds to fund about half of the proposed $75 million project. Private donations and university funds are expected to make up the difference.

"This benefits us, not just culturally, but from an economic standpoint as well," Rep. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, sponsor of a companion resolution in the House, said.

Graham said he expected the new arena to boost attendance at MU athletic events, provide $75 million to Columbia builders and treat female athletes as "first-class citizens on campus," by giving them better practice facilities.

The bonds would boost Missouri taxes by about $2.5 million per year, said Graham, who expects groundbreaking to take place within the next three years.

"All the University is seeking is the general authority from health and higher education to issue bonds," Jim Snider, a lobbyist for the University of Missouri system, said in response to questions about a state budget shortfall expected to exceed $300 million for the fiscal year.

"This money is not much needed this year and we're not asking them to spend it now," Snider said.

He said the bond allocation must be approved by the legislature before taxpayers are asked for the money.

The UM system last used the health and education authority, a quasi-public body, in 1989 to fund a $40 million construction program at its four campuses.

Bonds issued by the authority have been used to fund projects at hospitals, dormitories, and schools.