Thoughts on Gov. Nixon’s Rams Press Conference
With the Rams poised to do a power run out of town, are public officials planning to blitz unwary taxpayers and their pocketbooks? Earlier today, Gov. Nixon huddled with the press discussing his game plan on how to keep the Rams in Saint Louis. Due to an arbitrator’s ruling, the Rams are allowed to shift to a year-to-year lease on their current stadium in 2015 since it is not “top-tier.” During the press conference, Gov. Nixon announced that he would be appointing former A-B executive Dave Peacock and Clayton attorney Bob Blitz to research options designed to keep the Rams in Saint Louis.
Details on any proposal are light, but Gov. Nixon did say that Saint Louis will remain an NFL city and that “we’re going to be partners here” in regards to upgrading the stadium. He mentioned that current funding streams will be available once payments on the original dome expire. Presently, the city, county, and state spend a combined $24 million annually on paying off the debt accrued in building the Edward Jones Dome. Gov. Nixon also was quick to point out economic benefits that having a sports team would bring.
I agree with Gov. Nixon’s desire to keep the Rams in Saint Louis. I too hope they stay, but if taxpayers are going to approve further public subsidies to the Rams, they should do so with their eyes wide open. It’s one thing if people want to pay to keep the Rams in Saint Louis because of a desire for increased civic pride or prestige. It’s another thing to claim that subsidizing construction will lead to economic growth for the area. In fact, public financing of a new stadium will not lead to increased economic growth. A study conducted by Robert A. Baade and Victor A. Matheson found that “Researchers who have gone back and looked at economic data for localities that have hosted mega-events, attracted new franchises, or built new sports facilities have almost invariably found little or no economic benefits from spectator sports.”
Again, I want the Rams to stay in Saint Louis, but I don’t want my tax dollars to be used to keep them here. New stadiums in New York and San Francisco are both 100 percent privately financed. Why should the Rams be treated any better?