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St. Louis mayor pushes Cardinals' stadium plan

February 12, 2002
By: Robert Sandler
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The mayor of St. Louis spent Tuesday in the Capitol to push legislators to authorize $100 million of state money to build a new baseball stadium for the St. Louis Cardinals.

The stadium funding plan would provide funding to build a new $346 million ballpark immediately south of Busch Stadium. Much of the money would come from the state, as well as the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County, and $138 million from the team's owners. The team would be required to stay in the new ballpark for 35 years.

The state money would come from creating a new stadium authority that would issue $100 million in bonds. The state would pay off its debt by $7 million a year over 30 years beginning in 2005, for a total state contribution of $210 million in constant dollars.

Leaders in St. Louis and St. Louis County as well as Missouri Gov. Bob Holden signed off on a preliminary deal several months ago.

Rep. Catherine Hanaway, R-St. Louis County and Republican Floor Leader in the House, and Rep. Jim Foley, D-St. Louis County, are leading the legislative fight for state tax money.

Their bill stipulates that the stadium would be owned by a new entity with representatives from the state, city and county. The authority would retain the potentially lucrative naming rights to the new ballpark.

"It's a good deal for the state because over the life of the deal the state receives more revenue than we would in the old stadium," Hanaway said.

She said all moneys used to pay off the bonds will come from new revenue generated by the development. The state will retain the naming rights revenue in case the new development does not produce enough revenue to cover the state's payments.

After the new stadium is complete, the Cardinals' owners would be required to build a mixed-use development known as Ballpark Village on the site of the existing stadium.

Ballpark Village is expected to include residential and office space, and may include an aquarium as well. If the team owners do not fulfill their agreement to build Ballpark Village, they would be required to pay $100 million in penalties.

The bill also makes the team responsible for any overruns on construction as well as maintenance and improvements to the stadium. If the team is sold, it must pay penalties to the state, city and county.

In exchange for the state funding, the team is having its tax contributions frozen at a constant level. Instead of direct taxes, the team must make payments each year to the city and other taxing entities like the school district of whatever the property taxes were when the project was approved. The team would also be forced to sell at least 6,000 tickets per game at no more than $12 in constant 2000 dollars, as well as donating tickets and money to various youth charities.

A spokesman for the Cardinals said a bill would be introduced in the Senate in the coming week.