It’s what’s becoming a bit of an annual ritual, talk of the “looming” St. Louis Rams stadium crisis has started up again. The excuse, this time: A group of St. Louis business leaders visited the Indianapolis Colts stadium to see what it takes to make an NFL team happy.
The answer: a big stinking pile of money.
In Indy, three years of negotiations led to a deal in which tax dollars covered most of the cost of the $1.1 billion stadium, and in which the Colts get the vast majority of gameday revenue (concessions, signage, etc.). That may not sound like a good deal for the city, but that’s not how these people see it.
The way Lucas Oil Stadium’s promoters see it, the stadium hosts “100 non-football events a year, from fire department conventions to the rehearsal dinner for the wedding of the Indiana governor’s daughter.” Of course, many of those conventions are actually booked into the adjacent convention center (which uses the stadium for its big plenary events, just as the Hoosier Dome that it replaced was previously), and you have to hope that the governor’s daughter didn’t get married just because there was a new stadium to have the rehearsal dinner in.
The more interesting part of the story here, meanwhile, is buried at the bottom of the article, where Kevin Cahill, a former member of the commission that built the Rams’ current stadium (way back in 1996) and who’s on the RCGA trip summed up the city’s options this way: “We can’t shrug our shoulders and say (to the Rams), ‘you can leave.’ I don’t think that’s the right answer. Just building them a new stadium, I’m not sure that’s the right answer either. Maybe we need to find some middle ground.”
That smells suspiciously like either “major renovation” or “lease concessions,” though I suppose by middle ground he might have meant “build them a new stadium, but ask them to chip in a few million dollars.” And, of course, Cahill doesn’t necessarily represent the business group, and the business group doesn’t necessarily represent the power brokers who’ll actually be negotiating a Rams deal one of these years. But if you’re looking for tea leaves, read ’em and weep.