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Cardinals and Governor Reach Stadium Agreement

February 26, 2002
By: Missy Shelton
State Capital Bureau

About 205 million tax dollars would help pay for a new baseball stadium for the St Louis Cardinals under an agreement reached between the team and Missouri's governor.

Missy Shelton reports.

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Governor Bob Holden says if the state pays for one third of the cost to build a new ballpark in downtown St Louis, taxpayers will reap the benefits.

The governor says the tax revenue the stadium will generate will be enough to cover the state's intial investment and then some.

That's why the governor says he supports this plan to spend 205 million dollars in state revenue...Even though he says it's tough to support the plan in a year when he's recommended cutting social services for children and the mentally ill.

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In addition, the governor says the state won't have to make an investment until the year 2005.

But those who oppose spending tax dollars on a ballpark say the governor is setting a dangerous precendent.

St Louis County representative Jim Murphy is perhaps the most outspoken critic of the plan in the legislature.

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But a deal like this, the governor says will ensure a greater cash flow in the coming years.

The governor says he's pleased with the plan because it bans the Cardinals from asking Major League Baseball for permission to relocate the team.

In addition, it requires the team to invest 300 million dollars in the construction of Ballpark Village in downtown St Louis as a part of the overall plan to revitalize the downtown area.

But if the owners of the Cards decide against building Ballpark Village, they must pay the state a penalty of 100 million dollars.

And lest other cities feel left out, Holden says he's open to discussing revitalization plans with other cities.

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Even if the governor says he's open to looking at revitalization plans for smaller cities and towns, that doesn't lessen the opposition from rural lawmakers.

The chair of the Senate Appropriations committee is John Russell of Lebanon.

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With the agreement between the governor and the Cardinals in place, legislation to set the plan in motion is poised to go before House and Senate committees for consideration.

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