As all of you unquestionably know—first and foremost due to the fact that all of you follow every single portion of my Facebook activity with such great focus and attention that in the sequel to the Social Network I will be a prominent character portrayed by the professional wrestler Kane—I am in favor of the proposed St. Louis Riverfront Stadium Project. I have twisted and shaped my words in the most poetic way possible in order to buttress support for it. I have factually demeaned other cities in order to rally approval around it.
I have called a certain St. Joseph, MO area State Senator’s office every single day for the past week threatening to permanently ruin each and every Johnny-on-the-Spot in his district until he unblocks me from Twitter and once again allows me to tell him how much of an idiot he is. I want the new Riverfront Stadium. I need it. I have to have it. It is the only way that I can get drunk and weep out of pure, unadulterated joy in the year 2025 in front of my as of yet to be born son as I show him exactly what a true man is; as I prove to him exactly what a true man always will be
I do not, however, accept the fact that I cannot control how other people think. I am not, however, content with the fact that I cannot control how other people think. It really does, deep down at the most base level of my core, at the most base level of what makes me the human being and hot dog eating champion that I am today, annoy the F out of me that I cannot, no matter how hard I try or how much beef jerky I give out to random people as mental and emotional bribes, control how other people think. Other people should think the way that I want them to think. The world would be a better place that way. There would be less murders. There would be less corruption in the world international soccer. International soccer, and the world as a whole outside of America, probably wouldn’t exist. Soccer, and the world as a whole, would exist only within the confines of the new St. Louis Riverfront Stadium.
St. Louis needs a new Riverfront Stadium. It needs it to show its promise. It needs it to portray its potential. It needs it because I have told all kinds of people on Facebook that it needs it. It needs it because I control what you think…and you think that St. Louis needs the new Riverfront Stadium to again make itself whole.
The new Riverfront Stadium is, would be, good for St. Louis. Let me now assuage any anti-sports, Communist, or a probable Nelly hating Republic State Senator from St. Joseph, MO fears you may have by telling you all why.
10 Reasons Why the new Riverfront Stadium Should Happen
Reason #1: It Would Make the City/State Money-Most publicly financed sports stadiums, the Edward Jones Dome included, come with big promises. Build this and get the Olympics. Build this and get the Super Bowl. Build this and Major League Ultimate Frisbee will become the biggest sport in all of North Dakota. Build this and the city of Bismarck will literally make trillions of dollars/year when the World Series of Ultimate brings 4.2 billion people to your restaurants, bars, and all 2 of your hotels.
These claims are, in a tangible sense, economically dubious. Major League Ultimate Frisbee is, to my knowledge, not a real thing. The city of Bismarck has never had a Motel 6. Colossal sports palaces paid for with taxpayer funds rarely, if ever, pay for themselves. That doesn’t mean they are without merit. That doesn’t mean that the intangible benefits of the project (more on this later) do not make it worthwhile. It just means that, when focusing on dollars and cents, public investment in sports stadiums can be hard to justify.
Unless, of course, there is the possibility that the team could move out of the city, or even the state. In a prefect world the Edward Jones Dome would be, will be, forever occupied, even past the bonds maturation date, even after the building is all paid off. It would continue to provide the city and state with tax revenue even when none is required of it. It would continue to allow us to keep a NFL franchise and all of the economic benefits that go along with it, without needing to make anything like the significant original investment that it took to get a team to come here in the first place.
In that world, paying for a new stadium would be absurd. It would be obscene. It would be unjustified. It would be a gigantic economic mistake. However, since that world doesn’t exist, we are forced to make a choice: double down on our investment, (hopefully) keep the team, and (hopefully) keep their tax revenue or pay nothing, lose the team, and lose 100% of their tax revenue. Would you rather pay $12 mill/year, and make $15+ million in tax revenue, or pay nothing, and lose everything? I’m no businessman, but I am a BUSINESS MAN which means that I know this: I’ll take $295 million in profit over the next 30 years over breaking even any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Because Sunday is the Lord’s Day…which means it’s twice as good.
Reason #2: The Legislature Already OK’ed It-Let me peep you a scenario here: a MO State Senator from Jefferson County wants to legalize the making and distribution of Crystal Meth, since that is the trade that both employs and imprisons roughly 89% of his constituents. First he tries to pass a law in the state legislature legalizing crystal meth. The legislature, perhaps wisely, declines. Undeterred the Jefferson County Senator then tries to attach an amendment onto the state budget outlawing funds earmarked for the enforcement and prosecution of offenders caught making or distributing crystal meth. The legislature, perhaps wisely, declines. Finally, out of legitimate legislative resorts, the Jefferson County Senator sues the Governor stating that the Missouri Law prohibiting crystal meth is, itself, illegal for some reason that not even the guy with the eye patch from Brown & Brown has heard of.
Look I am not a Doctor of anything—at least not until Strayer University gives me that honorary PhD for being the biggest Steve Harvey fan on Earth—law included, but doesn’t it seem to you that, given the information I shared, this hypothetical MO State Senator from Jefferson County is being kind of a cry baby about the fact that no one else wants to help him legalize meth? Welcome to the world of MO State Senator Rob Schaaf, and the 5 other lemmings who sued Governor Nixon to attempt and take away his legal authority to extend the EJD bonds to finance a new stadium, after failing to either pass a law or a budget amendment that would prohibit him from doing so.
Maybe Senator Schaaf’s lawsuit has merit. Maybe the guy with the eye patch from Brown & Brown will bring it home for him. Maybe the judge is going to be Vince Vaughn and he is just going to do whatever the F he wants anyways. The point is this: the MO State legislature, through their lack of action, has already spoken. They may not be able to say it politically because some of their constituents are people who will not support the use of tax dollars to plow roads when, in their opinion, it is every citizens responsibility to hire a private dog sled team to get their kids to school regardless of their income, but the state, by not taking up the proposed law or budget amendment, has already authorized the financing of the stadium.
It is signed. It is sealed. It is delivered. It is done. It’s like Breaking Bad. It’s time to move on Senator Schaaf. It’s over. Find a new show.
Reason #3: Who Cares If the Guy Who Owns the Team Is Rich-Look, I hate rich people. Why you ask? Because they don’t understand regular folks. Maybe if they used their bawdy fortunes to do things such as putting a new side mirror on 27-year-old children’s 2006 Volvos or murdering that family of raccoons that is defecating all over the crawl space above my bed instead of using it to pay off their kids’ teachers in order to make sure that they always win the school spelling bee no matter if they know the letter Q exists or not or to kidnap homeless people and force them to reenact scenes from Downtown Abbey while blowing copious amounts of cigar smoke in and around their face, I wouldn’t feel this way. Unfortunately this is exactly how all rich people use their money. Unfortunately this is exactly why all rich people are the devil.
But even so, why does the Rams’ owner’s level of personal wealth affect our willingness to help him build a stadium? Look, I get the idea of building something for a billionaire who can easily build it himself is not super popular among us common folk, but are we really naïve enough to believe that sports stadiums are the only case and point in which the government “subsidizes” billionaires? Why do companies move corporate headquarters? Is it because they want to pay more taxes or less taxes? How is a lack of a corporate income tax any less a form of corporate welfare than this proposed football stadium?
The question now becomes, is the new football stadium a good deal for the city and state or is it a bad one? If Stan Kroenke were a homeless man who had made exactly $450 million prostituting himself on the streets and wanted to spend it all to construct the new riverfront stadium, this would suddenly become a project we can all get behind? If Mark Davis owned the Rams—and we legitimately had an owner who could not even afford to get his hair cut at a neighborhood Great Clips—this proposal would be more palatable because it would represent all the money the owner could possibly pour into it?
If Bill Gates wanted to build a new industrial park on the site of the proposed stadium, we wouldn’t offer him hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks in order to do so when we had been ensured that contributing to this project would provide our city/state with 5,000 jobs and a net tax surplus of $295 million over the next 3 decades because the guy was rich enough to do it himself? Please. If we didn’t offer Bill Gates the tax breaks, someone else would. The new stadium would be a business deal. If you want to stop doing business deals with billionaires because they don’t need the money, then you are going to be leaving a lot of opportunities, and a lot of cheddar, on the table.
Reason #4: The Dome-The Edward Jones Dome is the US Cellular of NFL facilities, i.e. a new stadium that was supposed to be “state of the art” when it was constructed and yet quickly became outdated due to that fact that it was built just before stadium architects figured out how to design buildings that would greatly enhance franchise revenue. It doesn’t mean the Edward Jones Dome is necessarily a “bad” stadium. It is big. It is clean. Unlike with the stadium in Oakland you don’t have raw sewage running over your topsiders every single talk you walk within 100 feet of any of the building’s men’s bathrooms.
The Ed was just the wrong building built at the wrong time, more in the style of the Georgia/RCA/Metro Domes when they was considered the Gold Standard for multi-purpose facilities, 3 or 4 years before anyone was smart enough to realize that you could build a multi-purpose facility that didn’t make it feel like you were trapped inside of the world’s largest and most dimly lit cave. This is bad luck. This is bad timing. This, along with a shitty lease, screwed St. Louis. Build a stadium in 1998 and we’d have far more options than we do now. Unfortunately we built ours in 1995. Unfortunately we finished just a few years prematurely.
The Dome will never be home to a NFL franchise—at least not long term—again. So why does the building even play a part in my logic about all of this? Because it has shown us exactly what not to do. From the design (cavernous, dark, unappealing, quickly outdated), to the financing (100% public, bond payments outlasting its utility), to its revenue streams (limited club seating that no one wants to buy because the stadium is already indoors), to the renovation potential (little to none as we saw in the Rams plan due both to its location and structure), to, of course, its lease (DUH), the Dome is the model of inefficiency and a lack of proper planning.
The Dome has taught us how one poorly executed stadium vision can cloud a franchise and city’s future not too far down the road. What’s that thing people say about history? If we don’t learn from it…Germany will start a war with the rest of the world (Stolen from Norm McDonald. I acknowledge it) ? Well tough shit Germany. St. Louis has learned its lesson. St. Louis, based on everything I have seen, will not be making the same mistake twice.
Reason #5: It Would be a Cultural Investment-There are a lot of things in cities that enhance its residence and visitors quality of life, level of entertainment, and opportunity to connect with the larger community. Museums. Parks. Entertainment districts. Monuments. Hot dog stands. Laws that encourage alcohol consumption. And sports teams. Yes, sports teams.
Sports teams are important. Sports teams provide entertainment value. Sports teams provide a higher quality of life. Sports teams provide a city’s citizens with chance to connect with their community. Whether they do to you personally or not, professional sports franchises, as a whole, matter to people. Professional sports are a significant part of a city’s ethos. Professional Sports, like the Arch and Forest Park, enhance St. Louis’ worth. Our teams are part of our city’s character. Our teams are a part of our city’s fabric. Our teams are something that we can identify with. Sports teams bring us together. Sports teams cause people to emphasize with one another. Sports teams allow us all to become a part of something that is bigger than ourselves.
There is an intangible and intrinsic value to having professional sports franchises play in your city. Beyond the economics. Beyond the dollars and cents. Quality of life. Entertainment value. Community connection. These are things that public entities should strive to produce higher levels of. These are things that are worthy of our, i.e. the public’s, investment. If you don’t like football, then great. Don’t go to the games. You may hate being outdoors and/or having fun and therefore think that Forest Park is a waste of your tax money as well. But the point is that Forest Park, as well as the new Ram’s football stadium, doesn’t exist for you. They exist (or would exist) to better our city. They exist (or would exist) for us.
Whether you like sports or not, a city has an obligation to provide some level of cultural significance to its citizens, even if the institutions they support in order to do so are not, necessarily, giant money makers (hopefully they are not money losers either). In our country and our community, sports play a part in that. In our country and our community a reasonable and measured investment in athletic facilities is not a waste of money.
Reason #6: Civic Progress & Optimism-I wrote about this at length before, but let me elaborate on this point more because this current blog post is not long enough yet: St. Louis needs investment and redevelopment. It needs to remove blighted areas of the city and recreate them, opening them up for advancement and gentrification. St. Louis, as a city, needs to be reimagined and rethought. It needs to be build up. It needs to be transformed.
One football stadium that would revitalize one decrepit neighborhood may not do all of that itself, in fact it almost certainly will not, but it is a step in the right direction. The new Riverfront Stadium is not meant to save St. Louis. It is meant to make it better. It is meant to inspire hope. It is meant to show us all exactly what there is to save.
The new Riverfront Stadium would be the largest private investment in the history of St. Louis. That is substantial. That means something. That shows us, shows the world, that St. Louis is a place worth investing in once again. That shows us, shows the world, that we will not let fear or negativity dictate who we are. That show us, shows the world, that we are good enough. St. Louis is a great American city. The new Riverfront Stadium cannot, on its own, unequivocally prove that. What the new Riverfront Stadium can be, however, is a jumping off point. What the new Riverfront Stadium would be is a start.
Reason #7: You Wouldn’t Be Paying For It-Oh yeah, if you live in the city of St. Louis your yearly contributions to the Edward Jones Dome, and the new Riverfront Stadium as well, are covered by a tax on hotel and motel rooms as opposed to actual funds coming out of city taxpayer’s pockets. So unless you often stay at the Holiday Inn Express on Jefferson Ave because it is just so much closer to your neighborhood Subway Sandwich Shop than your apartment just a few blocks away, then you, as a city resident, are not paying a dime of St. Louis City’s proposed tab towards the new Riverfront Stadium yourself.
You are, on the other hand, going to be paying for my one man show entitled “Sack gets Drunk and Yells At Seahawks Fans” once I get that city grant to finance its production 1 Sunday/year directly outside the new Riverfront Stadium. No hotel or motel tax could cover that. Some things are just too important.
Reason #8: Even Scott Walker Is Doing It-I do not like making political statements on this blog due to the fact that political statements in general are a slippery slope. First you’re popping off about Republicans sexting college interns on your Internet blog, next thing you know you’re saying that certain former Olympians should not be legally allowed to become women because our founding fathers neglected to explicitly mention former male decathlon gold medalist’s rights to have sex change operations in the US Constitution. That could be because none of those words existed in 1787. That could be because John Hancock was indisputably against sex change operations. Whatever. Who cares? You be the judge.
Nonetheless, despite my disdain for political statements in public forums, I will say this: Scott Walker is a dipshit. He also, badly, needs to get a higher salary from the state of Wisconsin so that he can afford some GD Rogaine. He also, in contrast to his incompetency, has all but figured out how to finance a new basketball arena for the Milwaukee Bucks using a plan remarkably similar to the one proposed by Jay Nixon and his stadium task force. Even Scott freaking Walker, Tea Party favorite, conservative demigod, moron, sees the value in a similar proposal to the new Riverfront Stadium.
If Scott Walker gets his stadium plan done and we do not, we would then be living in a world where Scott Walker is better than us, and Wisconsin is somehow superior to Missouri. If you want to live in that world then God help you. If you don’t, then quit being such a tight ass about everything and let’s make the damn project happen.
Reason #9: What Will Happen If We Don’t-There are currently 53 buildings in the footprint of the proposed new Riverfront Stadium. 50 of them are vacant. The area is desolate, broken down and destroyed. The area is barren and uninhabited. The area is forsaken. The area has been forsaken for decades.
Governor Nixon made this point at a press conference he held on the stadium site earlier in the process, when, after directing the assembled media to look down the river at the bare and broken and deserted asphalt that filled the landscape, he asked them a simple question, something along the lines of “if we don’t do this, what is that going to look like in 10 years?” The Governor then answered the question for them by saying, simply, “The same.”
The same. If we do nothing then this plot of land, this square of our city nestled directly against the body of water that defines it, will remain the same. Abandoned. Cast off. All alone. Now we have an opportunity to save it. Now we have an opportunity to change what it is. Now we have an opportunity to make it whole. Now. Right now. For the first and only time in 50 years.
The only question remaining is, do we want to take advantage of that opportunity or not?
Reason #10: To Stick It To Stan-Stan Kroenke does not win if we help him build a new stadium in downtown St. Louis. Stan Kroenke wins if we do nothing. Stan Kroenke wins if we just allow him to skip out of town with a clear conscience, guilt free. Stan Kroenke wins if we sit back and say, “Oh well, the guy is a billionaire so, there’s really nothing we can do to stop him.” Stan Kroenke wins if we sit back and do nothing. Stan Kroenke wins if we let him take what is ours.
So I say this: let’s pick a fight. Let’s stand up to greed and oppression. Let’s determine, in our own minds, that we are going to scratch and claw and do everything in our power to protect our assets, our team, our identity from the ruthless and selfish tyrant who is trying to take all or part of it away from us. Let’s protect what is ours. Let’s tell the world that this, that what Stan Kroenke is attempting to do, that who Stan Kroenke is attempting to be, is not going to fly. Not here. Not now. Not in our city.
The only way to expose a traitor is to shine a light on him and show the world exactly who said traitor is, exactly what it is that said traitor stands for. The only way for us to accomplish that in this case is to get our ducks in a row and present a viable and state of the art stadium plan that will not only help us to keep our asset, but will make our city, will make St. Louis, more vibrant and dynamic and vital and real. This is the stadium plan that will accomplish that. This stadium plan that will show the NFL, show the world, show Stan Kroenke exactly who it is that we are.
At the end of the day that may not be enough. Greed. Gluttony. Selfishness. Excess. These are tough forces to overcome. These are tough forces to win out over. These are the forces that drive the NFL, that push it forward, that allow it, and other sports leagues of its ilk, to convince us all that we are emotionally connected to a team, a player, a community, when the only thing that the league is attached to is the dollars and sense that our connection brings into their coffers. These are all the reasons why Stan Kroenke wants to move our team to LA. There is more money to be had there. More luxury suites to be bought, more Super Bowls to host, more people who are willing to pay $194 for a Bud Light Lime to extort. St. Louis is not Los Angeles. No matter what we do we cannot be. No matter what we accomplishment LA is the kind of city that we will never become.
That’s OK. That’s alright. That is, in no way, meant to be an insult. St. Louis needs to control what St. Louis can control. St. Louis needs to be what St. Louis is. That’s what this stadium plan represents. That’s what this stadium plan achieves. If we nail down a plan and the NFL doesn’t want to accept it at least, then, we will unequivocally know what the league represents; at least then we will unequivocally know who the people in the league are. At least then we will have shone a light on Stan Kroenke, we will have shone a light on Roger Goodell, we will have shone a light on the entire league. We will have exposed them as men who care more about the air levels of a footballs than the people who financially support their existence. We will have exposed them as men who do not care about protecting us at all.
St. Louis is the master of its own destiny. St. Louis is the captain of its own fate. I believe that. If those statements aren’t true, then they aren’t true. If those statements are without merit, then there is nothing we can do. If those statements do not play out in actuality, then it looks as if there is really nothing we could have done to placate a money-grubbing billionaire who may have never wanted anything to do with us in the first place. Only time will tell.
But, on the other hand, if we have already rejected those statements as false, even when they might in fact be accurate, then the aforementioned money-grubbing billionaire has already been placated; then the aforementioned money-grubbing billionaire has already claimed his victory. If we don't attempt to build this new Riverfront Stadium then Stan Kroenke is the only person who wins.
In that scenario, this is the only way that it can end. Because, If we don't attempt to build this new Riverfront Stadium, then Stan Kroenke is the only person who is playing the game. Because if we don't attempt to build this new Riverfront Stadium, then Stan Kroenke is the one who was playing us all along.