Officials predict $300M revenue bump for St. Louis stadium

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri economic development officials on Monday told a House panel that building a new football stadium in St. Louis could bring nearly $300 million in net sales tax revenues to the state over the next 30 years.

The Monday hearing came as Rams owner Stan Kroenke is working to build a stadium near Los Angeles. The Rams in January went year-to-year on the lease of the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, prompting concern from city leaders about the team leaving Missouri.

Economic Development Director Mike Downing said building a new stadium — either to persuade the Rams to stay or entice another football team to move to St. Louis — could mean millions of dollars in profit for the state, even with $12 million in yearly bond payments.

Members of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's administration have said he has the authority to extend current bonding for the 20-year-old taxpayer-funded dome currently in the city for a new stadium, although Republican lawmakers have disputed that.

But House members grilled Downing and a Department of Revenue official about those estimates, and House Government Oversight and Accountability chairman Rep. Jay Barnes, said there still are unanswered questions that play into whether building a new stadium is the best path for the state.

The largest chunk of net revenues, Downing said, would come from players' state personal income taxes. The Department of Economic Development estimates that would bring about $10 million to Missouri starting in fiscal year 2017 and would balloon up to as much as $25 million by 2048. That's assuming a 3 percent yearly increase.

Barnes, a Jefferson City Republican, questioned that prediction and cited a decrease in the amount of income taxes collected from players in the past three fiscal years.

Taxes from football players have grown from nearly $13 million in fiscal year 2003 to a high of more than $21 million in 2012 between both the Kansas City Chiefs and the St. Louis Rams. But they've been decreasing since then, and in fiscal year 2014 brought in about $17.8 million.

Department of Revenue Legislative Director Paul Harper said variations can stem from which teams face-off in Missouri because players are compensated varying amounts.

"I hope so," Barnes said. He said if he doesn't see a correlation between the salaries of teams that the Rams have played and the declining tax revenue, "we've got a problem."

Barnes also questioned the Department of Economic Development assumption that the Rams would leave St. Louis without a new stadium and raised doubts that Kroenke will get necessary approval to switch cities.

The billionaire must submit an application to move a year in advance and needs votes from 75 percent of NFL team owners to leave.

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