Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

NFL Looking for Certainty in St. Louis

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

NFL Looking for Certainty in St. Louis

Article excerpt

As the potential return of the NFL to Los Angeles approaches its final stages, the key word for St. Louis in terms of keeping the Rams is "certainty."

That has become the buzzword for the NFL in evaluating not only the home markets of St. Louis, Oakland, and San Diego attempting to keep their teams, but also the Los Angeles area projects in Carson and Inglewood that are seeking to lure teams there.

The fewer holes, glitches or lose ends in financing, land acquisition or potential litigation, the more certainty league owners will feel that a particular stadium project can succeed.

"We need certainty to any proposal," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday in Chicago. "That's one of the things we're very focused on."

And how does the league view the "certainty" of the St. Louis plan?

"With respect to St. Louis they have made consistent progress over quite a number of months," said Eric Grubman, the league executive overseeing LA relocation and home-market stadium projects.

But Grubman added: "There is a litigation threat. They're continuing to assemble land, and the financing strategies have to be finalized. So risks remain. They are dealing with those risks. Similar to San Diego and any market that would be going through this, we ask about the risks and the litigation strategies. We keep asking about them until they're eliminated.

"I don't like to try to grade things mid-stream. ... I know they have a great deal of optimism (in St. Louis). We're asking all the questions that would give us certainty, and they're dealing with it. But we still have some information to get and some risks to eliminate."

So despite all the progress, work remains to be done in St. Louis. No one is more aware of this than Dave Peacock, who along with Bob Blitz heads a task force trying to get a riverfront stadium built on the north edge of downtown.

"The only thing that can get in our way is ourselves, as a region," Peacock said. "If we can come together, we can get this done."

Peacock told the Post-Dispatch on Wednesday that NFL owners and executives have repeatedly reiterated that St. Louis still is largely in control of its future a point they reinforced in Chicago this week.

He said the task force was making consistent progress on plans for a $998 million open-air riverfront stadium. Land acquisition is ongoing. There are no holdouts who aren't in ongoing discussions with the task force, Peacock said.

The task force has submitted tax credit applications to the state, and soon will send another, requesting money to help clean up site pollution, perhaps this week.

Peacock and Mayor Francis Slay have said they hope to have a financing package to the city's Board of Aldermen when the lawmakers return from summer break in about a month. They both committed to giving the board a vote on the package. …

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