Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon confident in St. Louis as 'NFL city'
Aug. 12, 2015
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon remains confident in St. Louis as an NFL city, even if Rams owner Stan Kroenke succeeds in moving his franchise back to Los Angeles.
After visiting Chiefs practice Wednesday, Nixon was asked about the future of the Rams in Missouri. NFL owners had met in suburban Chicago a day earlier and discussed the relocation of at least one team to the West Coast, and the Rams were among the teams presenting proposals.
The San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders are also considering the move.
"The competition here is to make sure you keep your facilities and fan base so it is NFL ready, so that has been our mantra," Nixon said. "Certainly we'd like the Rams to stay there, but if they don't for whatever reason, the bottom line is the NFL has really liked St. Louis as a market, the fans there are really good fans, they won a Super Bowl there, obviously.
"So what we're trying to do," Nixon said, "is make sure we're competing with all the other NFL cities to make sure we have the facilities and fan amenities."
One of the big reasons the Rams are considering a move is the state of the Edward Jones Dome, which opened in 1995 but has become woefully outdated by NFL standards. The Rams are now in a year-to-year lease at the dome, which means they could leave as early as 2016.
Kroenke has proposed a $1.8 billion stadium on the site of Hollywood Park, the old horse racing track, as the centerpiece of a sprawling development of homes, parks and office space.
The Chargers and Raiders, meanwhile, are championing a $1.7 billion stadium in Carson, south of downtown Los Angeles. Their ownership groups touted the transportation and location advantages of its proposed site, and the history of the teams, to NFL owners this week.
St. Louis has countered with a stadium proposal of its own, a $998 million, open-air facility that would be built along the riverfront. Bond extensions, seat licenses, state tax credits and other incentives would help pay for it, while about half the money would come from the team owner and an NFL loan program.
Proponents recently got a boost when a St. Louis circuit judge ruled that approval from city voters is not necessary to use city tax money to help fund the project.
The stadium, which could be ready for the 2019 season, would be the hallmark of a 180-acre riverfront redevelopment project. There are 53 buildings on the property, all but three of which are vacant, and many in varying states of disrepair. They would be replaced by shops, hotels, residential towers and green space just north of the downtown area.
"We've made a solid presentation," Nixon said. "We've got all the litigation out of the way, we're moving forward, it's a great redevelopment site, financing is coming into place, so I think we feel very good about St. Louis remaining an NFL city."
AP Sports Writer Jay Cohen contributed to this report.
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