Missouri economic development officials on Monday told a House panel that building a new football stadium in St. Louis could bring nearly $300 million in net sales tax revenues to the state over the next 30 years.
The Monday hearing came as Rams owner Stan Kroenke is working to build a stadium near Los Angeles. The Rams in January went year-to-year on the lease of the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, prompting concern from city leaders about the team leaving Missouri.
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Economic Development Director Mike Downing said building a new stadium — either to persuade the Rams to stay or entice another football team to move to St. Louis — could mean millions of dollars in profit for the state, even with $12 million in yearly bond payments.
Members of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's administration have said he has the authority to extend current bonding for the 20-year-old taxpayer-funded dome currently in the city for a new stadium, although Republican lawmakers have disputed that.
The largest chunk of net revenues from a new stadium, Downing said, would come from players' state personal income taxes.
The Department of Economic Development estimates that would bring about $10 million to Missouri starting in fiscal year 2017 and would balloon up to as much as $25 million by 2048. That's assuming a 3 percent yearly increase.
But residents and House members remained skeptical about the potential economic benefits touted by state officials during the hearing.
Tom Sullivan, a member of the Coalition Against Public Funding for Stadiums, told the committee that a new stadium "might enrich Stan Kroenke" or another team owner but would do little to help St. Louis or the state "except drain tax dollars needed for more critical purposes."
House Government Oversight and Accountability chairman Rep. Jay Barnes, a Jefferson City Republican, also questioned the predicted amount the state might collect in personal income taxes. He cited a decrease in the amount of income taxes collected from players in the past three fiscal years.
Taxes from football players have grown from nearly $13 million in fiscal year 2003 to a high of more than $21 million in 2012 between both the Kansas City Chiefs and the St. Louis Rams. But they've been decreasing since then, and in fiscal year 2014 brought in about $17.8 million.
"Maybe it's time for an audit," Barnes said. "Those numbers don't make sense."
Department of Revenue Legislative Director Paul Harper said he has "no indication that the numbers are inaccurate."
Barnes also questioned the Department of Economic Development assumption that the Rams would leave St. Louis without a new stadium and whether Kroenke will get necessary approval to switch cities.
The billionaire must submit an application to move a year in advance and needs votes from 75 percent of NFL team owners to leave.
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