Judge removes another hurdle from job-creating stadium project

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Stadium
AN ARTIST’S RENDERING of the proposed riverfront NFL stadium looking east across the Mississippi River. – HOK Image

Funding moving forward

By TIM ROWDEN

Editor

A Cole County judge on Aug. 13 removed Gov. Jay Nixon from a lawsuit seeking to block state spending on a new football stadium in St. Louis.

Circuit Court Judge Jon Edward Beetem also transferred the case to St. Louis, ruling that the six plaintiffs, all state legislators, had improperly filed in Cole County.

The decision cleared yet another barrier in Nixon’s effort to build a new downtown football stadium in St. Louis and keep the Rams from leaving for Los Angeles.

Part of the financing for new stadium would come from extending state and city bond debt payments on the Jones Dome. Some would also come from the City of St. Louis.

Earlier this month, St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Thomas Frawley ruled that the city did not need voter approval to spend tax dollars on the stadium.

“This is the second major hurdle cleared in three weeks,” said Jeff Aboussie, executive secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council. “I think this sends a clear message to the NFL that we’re ready to play some football, whether it’s with the Rams or some other franchise.”

UPDATE: The Missouri Development Finance Board (MDFB) on Aug. 18 approved $15 million in state tax credits to help build the $998 million NFL stadium. As proposed, that number would rise to $50 million over the next three years.

The MDFB will provide the stadium effort with $15 million in state tax credits for the project this year, and likely $17.5 million in 2016 and $17.5 million in 2017.

The tax credits, which would come from the MDFB’s contribution program, are dependent on the NFL and an NFL owner committing roughly $450 million to help build the stadium.

LABOR ON BOARD

Aboussie
JEFF ABOUSSIE

Just as they did with the effort to lure manufacture of Boeing’s 777X commercial aircraft to St. Louis – a proposal last year in which St. Louis placed second in the nation – area building trades unions have agreed to forgo overtime pay during round-the-clock construction of the stadium, which would be built on the St. Louis riverfront.

The redevelopment proposal, announced in January, calls for an open-air, 64,000-seat stadium on a 90-plus acre site on the north edge of downtown.

The agreement, reached with the Building & Construction Trades Council, Eastern Missouri Laborers’ District Council and Carpenters District Council of Greater St. Louis, calls for three eight-hour shifts, at straight time, a deal which will speed up construction while reducing overtime on the up-to-$985 million stadium.

The project would provide work for an estimated 1,500 union workers per day at peak construction and result in about 3.4 million work hours.

Nixon said the labor agreement would reduce the project cost by about $45 million while shaving about 44 weeks off the construction timeline.

“For us, it means a great opportunity to train the next generation of workforce, that we keep hearing there’s a shortage of, over the next four or five years,” Aboussie said. “It would revitalize that part of north downtown. There will be infrastructure improvements and an opportunity to revitalize Laclede’s Landing and put some fresh faces into the construction industry, including women and minorities.”

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