Nixon: Ameren, railroads agree to move for new downtown stadium

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ST. LOUIS - Ameren Corporation and the Terminal Railroad Association (TRRA) would move their northside riverfront infrastructure so the city could be a new football stadium, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon Tuesday morning at a news conference in downtown St. Louis.

In his first news conference on the new stadium effort, Nixon said St. Louis' status as a NFL city is at risk and losing the St. Louis Rams would cost Missouri--among other things--$10 million a year in tax revenue.

The governor called this an historic opportunity to build an iconic stadium that will stand the test of time and transform the deserted streets of the north riverfront into a thriving area.

Under the agreement, Ameren would relocate two transmission towers and power lines that feed the north riverfront substation at Biddle and N. Second streets, and build new towers on both sides of the Mississippi River. The existing substation will remain in its current location.

For its part, the TRRA would move the train tracks west in order to accommodate the new stadium.

The infrastructure will only be moved if a financing plan is established and the building project approved.

To that end, Gov. Nixon laid out six specific criteria, which any proposed stadium project must meet:

1. Strong protections for taxpayers and no new tax burden on Missourians;
2. A private financial commitment from the NFL and its local franchise.
3. The new stadium must be held as a public asset – owned by and for the benefit of the people;
4. Construction of a stadium would need to provide good-paying jobs for Missourians;
5. There must be a plan to maximize the ongoing economic value of the existing Dome; and
6. The project must result in the redevelopment of a blighted area that would remain blighted be but for the construction of a stadium.

The current proposal calls for a 64,000-seat, open-air stadium on 90 acres of land along the Mississippi River, just south of the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge. It would cost approximately $900 million to build. Nixon said $450 million of the cost would be financed by the NFL and the franchise playing here. An estimated 89-percent of the current parcels of land on the stadium footprint are either unoccupied or vacant lots. Said stadium would replace the nearly 20-year-old Edward Jones Dome.

Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who bought the franchise in 2010, is looking to build an 80,000-seat stadium in the Los Angeles area, the nation's second-largest television market. The Rams played in Los Angeles from 1946 to 1995, when the team relocated to St. Louis. Even if Kroenke's Los Angeles stadium were built, the Rams could not simply move right in. Such a move would require NFL approval and a three-fourths majority vote by other team owners.

Nixon said he has talked with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell several times, but has not talked personally with Kroenke. When asked about the city’s chances of keeping the Rams, Governor Nixon said he would not handicap the odds, but said that doing nothing would mean losing ‘‘NFL city” status.