By Doug Moore and Terry Ganey
Tuesday November 18,2003--Rendering of the stadium that will replace Busch Stadium.
The Cardinals plan to close on the private financing part of a downtown ballpark on Dec. 18 and begin construction by the end of the year, team President Mark Lamping said Tuesday.
Lamping's remarks came after a state board approved $29 million in tax credits for the project and authorized a tax-supported $45 million bond issue.
The St. Louis County Council on Tuesday night introduced a bill that would approve a $45 million loan to be funded from the bond issue - with the debt being repaid from the county's motel and hotel tax. The council will hold a public hearing at 5 p.m. Monday on the stadium financing. Bonds would be sold 16 days later to coincide with closing on the private financing.
State officials who signed off on the project said assurances are in place that the new stadium, which is scheduled to open in April 2006, also comes with adjoining development or the Cardinals will have to pay penalties.
The arrangement among St. Louis, St. Louis County, the state and Cardinals owners is a "very responsible partnership," said Joe Driskill, state Economic Development Department director and a member of the Missouri Development Finance Board, which approved the credits.
The Cardinals plan to create a six-block office and residential area known as Ballpark Village across Clark Street from the new ballpark and roughly where Busch Stadium now sits. The Cardinals have committed $60 million to developing one block by 2009 and a second block by 2011. The economy would dictate further development, the Cardinals have said.
With a unanimous vote, the state board approved a package of $29.45 million in contribution tax credits for the team. A credit is a direct deduction from state income taxes. The Cardinals can sell the credits for about $25 million and use the money for stadium development.
The board-approved resolution said $22.45 million in credits could be used during this fiscal year. The $7 million balance would be taken from the state treasury in the fiscal year that ends June 30, 2005.
Most of the credits will be charged against the state balance sheet at a time when Missouri will be facing continued budget problems. The credits were issued last fiscal year. They had to be reauthorized because the Cardinals did not have all their financing in place by June 30.
The deal obligates the Cardinals to fulfill certain requirements. Those include stipulations that if the team were sold, the public partners - city, county and state - would receive a share of the purchase price.
To get the tax credits, the Cardinals have to turn over to the state land and marketable securities equal to $58.9 million. The team owns the 14-acre site, which now houses Busch Stadium and the land south of it where the new 46,000-seat ballpark would be built. The entire project is expected to cost about $402 million and includes tearing down Busch Stadium and the Eighth Street ramp onto eastbound Highway 40.
"It's a good day for us," Lamping said before heading to New York to continue negotiating on the private financing.
The Cardinals will not say who the firm or firms are that would fund, build and own the new stadium. The team is working with Banc of America Securities, which is responsible for finding about $47 million from equity investors for the project. An additional $183 million would be borrowed by the company that commits to build and own the stadium.
The team, who would lease the new ballpark for 29 years, are putting in at least $50 million of its own money.
The St. Louis Board of Aldermen voted 13 months ago to eliminate the entertainment tax on Cardinals tickets, saving the team about $3.4 million. The team will likely use the money to help make its lease payments. City leaders were concerned that the Cardinals would move the team out of downtown after an earlier financing package failed to make its way out of the Missouri Legislature.
"This might be the first day we can say with assurance that this project will get done," said Jeff Rainford, chief of staff for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. The ballpark would represent the largest development project in the city and serve as the first major development project under Slay's administration. The Cardinals generate about $8 million a year in taxes for the city.
John Loyd, who is overseeing the construction of the new ballpark for the Cardinals, said with the closing date in place, the Cardinals now have 27 1/2 months to build a new facility.
"It's an adequate amount of time but not a generous amount of time," Loyd said. Experts in stadium design and construction say projects similar to this take 24 to 36 months.
More than half of the construction jobs have been let out for bid, Loyd said. Of those $127 million in contracts that will be awarded once funding is in place, 92 percent will go to Missouri-based companies, Lamping told the state board.
Pulitzer Inc., which owns the Post-Dispatch, and Pulitzer's chairman, Michael E. Pulitzer, are part-owners of the Cardinals. Their combined stake is slightly less than 4 percent.
Tuesday: The Missouri Development Finance Board reissued $29.45 million in tax subsidies and approved the sale of $45 million in revenue bonds. The St. Louis County Council introduced a bill that would approve a $45 million loan to be funded from the bond issue with the debt being repaid from the county's motel and hotel tax.
Nov. 24: County Council holds 5 p.m. public hearing on stadium financing.
Dec. 2: Final vote by County Council on $45 million loan.
Dec. 18: Cardinals expect to close on private financing. Revenue bonds to be sold the same day.
By Dec. 31: Groundbreaking on the new stadium.
October 2005: Busch Stadium to be razed to make way for completion of new ballpark.
April 2006: New ballpark to open.
I've seen nothing regarding new dimensions.
Dad needs a new ramp. I can teach him my spots for a fee.
[edit due to lack of quoting skill]