Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Football Fans and Foes Gather at St. Louis Riverfront for Stadium Argument

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Football Fans and Foes Gather at St. Louis Riverfront for Stadium Argument

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS * The event was equal parts soapbox and spectacle as football fans and foes met on a dusty riverfront lot on Saturday to argue the merits of building a new stadium.

With dilapidated warehouses casting a long November shadow in the background, area residents appeared at a rare outdoor aldermanic Ways and Means committee meeting to voice their opinions on whether the city should contribute $145 million toward building the proposed NFL stadium.

"When we ordered up this day I didn't know it would be this beautiful," said Alderman Steve Conway, who chairs the committee.

The event was a long time in the making. St. Louis stadium task force members, led by co-chairmen David Peacock and Bob Blitz, are seeking to finalize a $1 billion plan to preserve St. Louis' status as an NFL city.

Aldermen must approve the city's portion of the financing. If they don't, proponents say it would kill the project and leave the city without an NFL franchise.

The committee met on Thursday for a briefing from the city's economic arm, but Saturday was the first time the public was allowed to directly speak to city officeholders about the stadium proposal.

About 200 attendees stepped across a warehouse parking lot littered with broken glass to voice their opinions.

Conway said he wanted the meeting near the area where the stadium would be built so everyone could better visualize the project.

A large number of St. Louis Rams fans were at the event wearing team paraphernalia.

Proponents said the massive construction project would bring badly needed jobs.

"I'm supporting this project for its ability to create 3,000 construction careers," said Alderman Jack Coatar, who is a co- sponsor of the financing bill.

He said it would recharge the largely vacant area between the new Mississippi River bridge and the Lumire Place casino.

Others said officials fail to see the area's potential. …

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