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Stadium Authority gets $3 million loan for riverfront stadium development

From the St. Louis Post Dispatch

The authority overseeing the push for a new football stadium in St. Louis received a $3 million line of credit from the state Tuesday to help it pays it bills.

On a 9-1 vote, the Missouri Development Finance Board approved the agreement after the stadium operator said it was running low on cash because of all the money it has spent trying to keep the Rams from moving west.

Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who is running for governor in 2016, cast the lone “no” vote, saying the board was acting hastily at a time when many lawmakers and voters are opposed to the overall stadium financing plan.

“We’re being sort of rushed into this,” Kinder told the board. “There are a lot of loose ends hanging out on this. I think there are red flags up on this all over the place.”

Board member Kelley Martin said supporting the needs of the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority in the run-up to a decision on the future of the city as an NFL town is worth the loan.

“We understand there is a huge economic impact if the Rams move,” Martin said.

In addition, board chairwoman Marie Carmichael said the 4 percent interest rate being charged to the authority if it draws on the account is well above the board’s usual rate of 0.5 percent.

“The rate is way better than what we have on our cash now,” said Carmichael, an appointee of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.

Robert Miserv, executive director of the finance board, said offering lines of credit to other units of government isn’t new or uncommon.

“This is an eligible request,” Miserv said.

The board’s action comes as St. Louis aldermen prepare to vote on the city’s share of an ever-changing financing package for the nearly $1 billion new stadium to be located on the Mississippi River north of downtown.

In August, the board approved $15 million in tax credits for the proposed stadium, as one of the first pieces of a plan designed to keep the Rams in the city.

The sports authority is on track to request another $17.5 million in tax credits in 2016 and the year after, for a total of $50 million. The amount sought is just a tiny piece of the project’s overall price tag.

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