St. Louis submits stadium proposal to NFL

St. Louis Rams fans watch as their team plays the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Edward Jones Dome. (L.G. Patterson/AP)

A task force empaneled by Missouri’s governor made its formal financing pitch Tuesday to the National Football League for a billion-dollar stadium along the Mississippi River, hoping to keep the St. Louis Rams from bolting for suburban Los Angeles or attract a new team if they do.

The nearly 400-page tome sent off by the group late Monday arrived at the league’s New York offices Tuesday, said Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman. The league had set a Wednesday deadline for local governments in St. Louis, Oakland and San Diego to submit their plans for new stadiums amid the possibility of relocation as early as next season.

League owners meeting Jan. 12-13 in Houston are expected to decide if as many as two of the teams will be allowed to move.

Oakland city officials have repeatedly have said they won’t stick taxpayers with the bill for a new stadium, and they told the San Francisco Chronicle that no plan from them about a new Raiders stadium was coming.

Oakland and Alameda County still are $100 million in debt from an overhaul of the Coliseum's east end 20 years ago. Oakland's Assistant City Administrator Claudia Cappio said the city will send a letter to league officials updating them on the Oakland's efforts to persuade the Raiders to stay put. The city of San Diego plans to issue a statement Wednesday.

Rams owner Stan Kroenke is part of a group planning a $1.8 billion stadium in Inglewood, California. The Chargers and Raiders have teamed up on a joint venture for a stadium about 13 miles away, in Carson, California.

The St. Louis proposal for the open-air, $1.1 billion stadium along the Mississippi north of the iconic Gateway Arch calls for $150 million from the city, $250 million from the team owner, at least $200 million from the league, and $160 million in fan seat licenses. The rest of the money comes from the state, either through tax credits or bonds.

Members of the St. Louis stadium task force commissioned by Gov. Jay Nixon have said that even if the Rams move, a new stadium could lure another team.

"St. Louis has faithfully supported the NFL and, in particular, the St. Louis Rams since their arrival in 1995" from Los Angeles, said Bob Blitz, who along with Dave Peacock co-chaired the task force. "Our proposal this week to the NFL personifies that support."

Critics in St. Louis and elsewhere in Missouri say taxpayers shouldn't have to foot the bill for yet another football stadium. Last month, Republican Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson sent Nixon, a Democrat, a list of 120 House members opposed to funding the stadium.

The Edward Jones Dome -- the Rams' current home -- opened in 1995, built entirely with taxpayer money. The Rams converted their lease to annual terms after saying the facility was not deemed among the top 25 per cent of NFL stadiums based on various criteria. The city's Convention and Visitors Commission proposed improvements of less than $200 million with the Rams picking up half of the cost and the team countered with a more elaborate plan with a price tag of at least $700 million. The impasse helped prompt formation of the task force.

Peacock said the St. Louis plan for "an ultra-modern stadium on our downtown riverfront that the NFL and the St. Louis Rams will be extremely proud to call their own" culminated a 13-month effort "to deliver on the certainty that has understandably been requested by the NFL."