Bill McClellan: For Redevelopment of Proposed NFL Stadium Site, Look to Past Not Future

By McClellan, Bill | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), March 30, 2015 | Go to article overview

Bill McClellan: For Redevelopment of Proposed NFL Stadium Site, Look to Past Not Future


McClellan, Bill, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


If Huck Finn and his friend Jim had indeed rafted down the Mississippi in the days before the Civil War, they would have known they had arrived at St. Louis by the distinctive mound formation just north of what is now downtown. Historians believe the mounds date to the Mississippian culture that built the great Cahokia Mounds across the river.

Big Mound, which was 319 feet long, 158 feet wide and 34 feet high, was at the northern end of the St. Louis formation.

Most of the rest of the mounds were in the footprint of the proposed football stadium.

I was recently chatting with a preservationist who believes this has the potential to unravel plans for the new stadium. This is sacred ground to Native Americans, he said. He pointed out that the National Football League already has a public relations problem due to the nickname of the team in Washington, D.C. Building a stadium at this location could compound the problem, he said.

That is an interesting idea, but I think that the owners care little about anything other than money. Besides, it is hard to make the argument that the league should respect this as sacred ground when we have already defiled it.

In 1844, entrepreneurs built a beer hall on top of Big Mound. Mound Pavilion burned in 1848. Big Mound was completely knocked down in 1869. Workers found bones, jewelry and items made of shells from the Gulf of Mexico proof that the area was a trading hub centuries before white people arrived.

By the 1870s, the area just north of downtown was densely populated. A few homes were built on the remnants of mounds. As the decades passed, the area became industrial. With a few exceptions, it is a wasteland these days.

That's one of the selling points for building a stadium there. Let's do something with the riverfront on the near north side.

I have little faith that the plans for the new football stadium will come to fruition. The financing requires both private and public money. The private money is supposed to come from a football team. Stan Kroenke is not going to chip in a few hundred million to help build a stadium in a city he wants to leave. If he is forced to stay here, he'll stay at the Dome. …

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