UPDATE: New Rams stadium totally would require public vote

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.


14 comments on “UPDATE: New Rams stadium totally would require public vote

  1. That’s like, totally awesome for the St. Louis & Missouri taxpayers, for sure!

    Ending sounding like a Valley Girl in 3..2…

  2. @Baseball Bat Mike

    LA doesn’t need to contribute, just pull the development deal from AEG. The city owns the land, 2 teams (Rams & Chargers) could fund a stadium just like NJ.

  3. If it does go to a vote they’ll just be told by the 49ers and Seahawks and Cowboys to spend many millions on a Yes on the Stadium campaign and they’ll win. They will have the benefit of learning from teams which have previously figure out the winning campaign strategy to get a public subsidy, and the assistance of freedom of speech, which does not require truth in campaign advertising.
    They’ll also be able to afford lawyers to help write the ballot language in the team’s favor. The deck is stacked against the taxpayers.

  4. I think the LA Stadium issue comes to a head by the end of the year, because of the sale of AEG and the fact that leases in places like St Louis & Oakland are coming to an end (The Chargers can move whenever they want). If we assume the Falcons are not leaving Atlanta, and the Raiders remain in Oakland (With the A’s leaving town), the probability is LA will not get Farmers Field built unless it involves the Rams. I know San Diego is possible, but a two team scenario is needed to make it work. One more factor at work involving the Rams: The increased taxes in the State of California have made LA less desirable for a new business wanting to move to the State (That certainly includes the ST LOUIS Rams). One more factor at work: After the novelty of a new football team wears off, will the decline in disposable income hurt a new team because of fewer ticket sales? I know there are a lot of people in LA, but teams like the Lakers and Dodgers are the most popular teams in the area, and they will likely be less affected by such an occurrence (Very different than the Bay Area with the 49ers). Throw in USC, and UCLA and that market does not become so inviting. My gut feeling is the Rams will stay, and get a privately built Stadium (Like the Cardinals).

  5. The Cardinals actually got about $140 million in city, state, and county money for their stadium:

    http://www.fieldofschemes.com/2003/12/23/198/cards-to-finance-own-share-of-stadium/

    Plus another $116 million in tax breaks for their “Ballpark Village”:

    http://www.fieldofschemes.com/2006/10/29/1554/weekend-update-more-subsidies-for-cards-yanks/

    It’s still better than a lot of deals — about one-third public, two-thirds private. But in no way did the city “make the Cardinals pay for their own stadium.”

  6. Sounds like Neil is just bummed he didn’t get the picture the Cards tweeted of the ceremonial shovel that will break ground on Ballpark Village tomorrow. And to think, only 6+ years late…

    Which reminds me: Neil, the Wikipedia page for Ballpark Village says the Cards were supposed to pay a $3mil fine to the city each year after 2011 if the project wasn’t completed by then. I can’t find info on whether this is true and, if so, has it been enforced or not. Do you happen to know?

  7. Unless private money materializes out of thin air for a new stadium the Rams will leave because their bottom line is stuck at $0. A move to LA raises the teams value to about $1.2 billion. Their value now is just over $750 million. They get a brand new stadium paid for with private funds with the move.

  8. With private funds *of their own*, that is (either via cash or equity). That’s not exactly a huge draw.

    As for the increased value of the team, Mike, where are you getting that number? Just extrapolating from Forbes data? Because I’m skeptical that a move to L.A. would juice their revenue figures by the $30m a year or so that would be required to justify that valuation, especially if AEG took all the naming rights and other goodies to pay for the stadium.

  9. LA gets three NFL teams in one off season. It will be the most sensible stadium ever, used by the Raiders, Rams, Chargers, chivas USA soccer, and the UCLA Bruins. Privately financed! The only catch is that it is built on wheels, and it moves each year to whatever city/county/state/country is the highest bidder!

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