Bernie Miklasz of the Post-Dispatch wrote a column on Sunday advising that "Cool Heads Are Needed in Dome Discussion." He's absolutely right, of course, which is why we need to take a careful look at the costs and benefits of any possible public financing of the Edward Jones Dome. As I posted earlier, David Nicklaus described the economics of the situation. Now, Micklasz lays out what he thinks are the issues and facts at hand. He's largely right, but let me point out some problems with what he says.
1. "The Rams have all of the leverage. Unless the Edward Jones Dome is
dramatically reinvented to qualify for elite status (top 25 percent)
among NFL stadiums, the Rams will be free to leave after the 2014
season. Don't blame Rams owner Stan Kroenke. He didn't write the lease
that offered an incomprehensibly stupid escape clause in 1995."
The Rams do have all the leverage because of the incomprehensibly stupid escape clause, but Kroenke can still be blamed for exercising it. The clause is binding on the CVC, not on Kroenke and the Rams.
2. "This is an election year, and politicians will run away from this. Do
you think that any incumbent wants to come out in favor of doling out
public money for the benefit of a multi-billionaire NFL owner? It isn't quite that simple, of course. But any politician perceived as
taking a pro-Rams, pro-Kroenke position would be an easy target for
ridicule and devastating campaign ads"
I think that's called democracy. Is it better to make these decisions without caring about the voting public?
3. "This isn't just about football, either. When the city, St. Louis
county and state cooperated to fund the original stadium deal, it was
part of a wider project — the expansion of the downtown convention
center to improve the slumping convention and trade-show business.
"The basic principle is still in place. If public money is
used to renovate the Dome, it would be a dual-purpose investment. The
dollars would secure the Rams for St. Louis for the next 30 years or
longer. The money would also upgrade the city's convention facilities
and keep St. Louis modern and attractive in the highly competitive
The CVC has already made it clear what it thinks is the appropriate amount of investment for their purposes, and it's less than one-tenth the cost of the Rams' proposal.
4. "Obviously, if Kroenke agrees to contribute significant funds to the
project, and the NFL floats the Rams a loan to cover another big piece
of the cost, the city-county-state obligation is reduced."
I'm not optimistic about the prospects of Kroenke ponying up what it
would take to make this a good deal for St. Louis. The original CVC
proposal suggested splitting the costs 50-50 with the Rams. The Rams'
proposal was silent on how to split the costs. Given that the Rams hold
all of the cards (see item number 1), it doesn't make any sense for them
to budge from that. Kroenke has made his fortune in commercial real
estate development, where the strong-arming of local governments is just
good business. Should anyone expect him to change his business model