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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cardinals could fly from St. Louis site

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

"The potential for growth and added revenue is just too great elsewhere."

I, for one, believe the Cardinals when they say they will move their baseball stadium out of downtown St. Louis. Were I a betting man, I'd put my money on a move to the western suburbs. But it would not be impossible to imagine the Red Birds moving east across the river though that's a long shot given the environment in east St. Louis.

I'm told that well over 80 percent of the residents of our legislative district were opposed to state funding for the proposed stadium. For those who missed it, the stadium funding bill died in the closing hours of the just-completed legislative session when the House refused to debate the measure. Funding had been approved by the Missouri Senate earlier in the session but that was not enough support to move the bill forward.

I can clearly see both sides of the debate on this issue. I firmly believe that had residents here or elsewhere learned more about the proposal, opposition would have been less. But I also believe that regardless of the education on the proposal, Missouri voters would still have opposed it.

It's hard to travel to Busch Stadium and make an argument for a new ballpark. Busch, at least to the casual visitor, seems an ideal ballpark with good parking, relatively easy access and the best darned baseball team on the planet. But those who crunch the numbers apparently recognize that Busch has limitations in the changing world of professional sports. Despite the dire predictions, Missouri residents just weren't accepting the need for state funding to help support the stadium construction.

Most who have been vocal against the stadium funding believe the Cardinals will stay put where they are. I do not believe that will be the case. The potential for growth and added revenue is just too great elsewhere. And today baseball teams must generate massive revenues to support a growing payroll. Without those funds, many teams become second-rate. We certainly hope that doesn't happen to our beloved Cardinals.

I fully understand how some residents felt the stadium proposal was welfare for the ultra-rich. But given the prospect of jobs and construction payroll, it wasn't such a bad deal. Combined with a potential move elsewhere, I believe many Missourians may soon change their minds. Unfortunately, for now at least, it doesn't matter.

If a new stadium is built elsewhere, someone will pay. It would either rely on much higher prices for fans or a small price for taxpayers. Apparently the majority of Missourians believe the fans should pay. Real soon, they may get their wish.



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