Fred Lindecke, who as one of the leaders of the Coalition Against Public Funding for Stadiums led the campaign for St. Louis’ requirement that any public money for new sports stadium be put to a public vote, has responded to my request for clarification on how the law would affect any proposed new Rams stadium. Lindecke writes:
In 2002 voters of the city of St. Louis passed through the initiative petition process a city ordinance requiring that before any taxpayer revenue can be spent on a new professional sports stadium, it must be approved in a citywide vote. In 2004 the same requirement was passed in St. Louis County in the form of a county charter amendment. The provisions apply to a tax increase or use of any taxpayer funds. Actually, any local tax increase to raise funds for a new stadium would require a referendum due to the Hancock amendment to the state constitution. The new Busch stadium was built without a tax increase, using other funds such as a bond issue, tax credits, repealing a city ticket tax the Cardinals used to pay. The only way a referendum could be avoided would be if the present Jones Dome was remodeled on the existing site.
So that’s pretty clear: Any use of city or county funds for a new stadium requires a public referendum. That doesn’t leave many options: The Rams would have to either run the gauntlet of a public vote, use all Missouri state money, get the state legislature to override the local law a la the Minnesota Vikings, or rebuild on the current site. Or build a new stadium without public subsidies — but that’s obviously crazy talk.