Holden touts details of stadium project

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Boasting of a ballpark plan better than any in the nation, Gov. Bob Holden and the mayor of St. Louis on Tuesday urged lawmakers to commit public money to the project as an economic stimulus.

A long-awaited "project agreement" between the Cardinals, the city and county of St. Louis and the state was made public at a St. Louis aldermanic meeting and later in the day at the state Capitol, where legislative support is uncertain.

Flanked by lawmakers, Gov. Bob Holden and Mayor Francis Slay implored the full legislature to back the results of what they described as long and difficult negotiations

"The result is an agreement that outshines any stadium development agreement in the country in terms of benefits to the public and protection of taxpayers," Holden said.

The deal calls for Missouri, St. Louis and St. Louis County to contribute $431 million over the next 30 years toward the construction of a new Cardinals stadium anchoring a downtown development. The Cardinals would pay part of the costs and share up to 16 percent of the proceeds if the team were sold before 2015.

$100 million penalty

The agreement requires the team to pay a $100 million penalty if it fails to develop the Ballpark Village near the stadium, a development to include shops, offices, condominiums and restaurants.

The package must be approved by the legislature, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen and the St. Louis County Council. Slay wants the aldermen to approve the deal soon as a way of sending a positive message to state lawmakers.

But he stressed that opening the plan to further negotiation or amendments could doom it. "This is it," Slay said. "This is the agreement."

The new ballpark would replace Busch Stadium, which opened in 1966. Cardinals officials say Busch is outdated and deteriorating.

Under the proposal, the state would contribute $100 million and the city $60 million in bonds paid off over 30 years. The total cost to the state would $210 million; to the city, $126 million. The county's total contribution would be $95 million.

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