ST. LOUIS – The first $30 million of the City of St. Louis’ share of the NFL settlement is about to be spent on expanding the convention center downtown. Funding and bidding delays, along with supply chain issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, have pushed the project so far over budget that even the extra $30 million won’t be enough.
Ground was broken for the two-phase expansion in May, without enough funding to finish phase 2.
The project was initially touted as a $210 million expansion. St. Louis City and County each appropriated $105 million.
There is enough funding to reportedly finish the new façade and 92,000-square-feet of exhibit space along Cole Street, but not enough for the new grand ballroom and outdoor plaza that have been promised to people planning to hold conventions in late 2023 and early 2024.
The City of St. Louis received a $280 million share of the NFL settlement, with $30 million to either be spent on the convention center project or to be given to the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority (RSA), which runs the dome where the St. Louis Rams used to play.
St. Louis County got a $169 million share of the settlement and the RSA received $70 million for upkeep of the dome.
“There’s this $30 million basically appropriated to the city specifically for the convention center expansion. If we don’t use it for that purpose, it reverts back to the RSA,” said Alderman Jack Coatar (Ward 7), who represents downtown St. Louis. “So, from my perspective and city leaders’ perspectives, let’s go ahead and use this money to at least get some of the second phase of the convention center expansion done. We need more bodies, more people, downtown.”
Coatar has proposed a bill to authorize spending the $30 million as planned instead of having it fall to the RSA (dome). The St. Louis Board of Aldermen’s Conventions, Tourism, Arts, and Humanities Committee will consider the bill on Wednesday.
“So, what we’ve asked the convention center leadership (Explore St. Louis President Kitty Ratcliffe) to do is to say what does a pared-down Phase 2 with just this $30 million look like? I don’t know where they’re going to find $80 million or so,” Coatar said. “I don’t think there’s an appetite from city leadership to take it out of our additional $250 million in Rams settlement money.”
Ratcliffe did not respond to FOX 2 for comment.
Suggest a Correction