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Legislature Awaits Governor's Position on Cardinals Stadium Proposal

April 17, 2001
By: Ben Paynter
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Governor Bob Holden said he would continue to withhold judgment on the $370 million Cardinals stadium proposal, despite increased bipartisan pressure for a decision from the House and Senate Tuesday.

"We will definitely take a look at it but we want to make sure the taxpayers of Missouri are getting their interests served," Holden said. "We have to live within our means and make sure that we have the revenue to do so."

Holden gave no timetable for his decision on the bill nor on a $35 million MU arena proposal. He said he would like to see both the MU proposal and Cardinal stadium issue, which are currently piggybacked on a Senate version of the bill, presented separately.

"It makes sense to look at them separately. Every one of them should be analyzed for their impact on the state and their benefits for the taxpayers of Missouri," Holden said.

The Cardinals proposal would give stadium naming rights to the Greater St. Louis Sports Authority, a quasi-government agency. It would provide a $9.5 million per year cap on the state's contribution to stadium construction costs, but holds no guanentee that season ticket prices won't be raised to cover unforeseen costs.

The proposal also mandates that the Cardinals use the stadium for 30 years or repay state investments in the case of a contract breach.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee has already approved the bill, 5-4, but committee chairman Sen. Michael Gibbons, said he would wait to place it on the Senate calendar until Holden issues his opinion.

Standing on the steps of the State Capitol, Rep. Jim Murphy, R-St. Louis County, condemned the proposal. He said it still left too many economic bases uncovered.

"This is slowly becoming an embarrassment to the Republican party," Murphy said.

He said Bill Dewitt, a part-owner of the Cardinals, sold his last sports franchise, the Texas Rangers baseball team, for a huge profit after helping to build a stadium for them in Arlington, Texas. President Bush was also a partner in the Texas Rangers deal.

The proposal "emphasizes the horrible untruth that Republicans are just for rich people," Murphy said.

Murphy said that amidst the current budget crisis, the government should focus on school, energy, and highway issues, not the future of state entertainment venues.