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When Stan Kroenke moved the St. Louis Rams to Los Angeles back in 2016, he left behind a jaded fanbase and significant debt payments on the 23-year-old Dome at America's Center (formerly known as the Edward Jones Dome), a stadium that no longer had a tenant. The stadium still sits empty today and is only scheduled to host three events for the remainder of the year.
State Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, is sponsoring SB 44, a bill that proposes legalizing sports gambling in Missouri. The bill proposes taking 0.5% of all bets as an integrity fee and placing that revenue into a fund to pay for taxpayer-funded improvements to sports venues, including The Dome at America's Center.
In a Columbia Daily Tribune article published on Jan. 31, Hoskins talked about the proposed bill and the debt payments on The Dome at America's Center.
"Missouri still owes $60 million on bonds issued to build the 23-year-old Edward Jones Dome, the former home of the St. Louis Rams," Hoskins noted.
Do Missourians really still owe $60 million on a vacated stadium?
We reached out to Hoskins to see where his numbers came from. His chief of staff Rachel Bauer clarified that the senator was "a little high" in his estimate and pointed to the state budget for the correct numbers.
Back in 1991, before construction began on the stadium, the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority issued $132,910,000 of Convention and Sports Facility Project Bonds to pay for the project. The debt has been refinanced multiple times, most recently in 2013 when the principal remaining on the debt was $64.385 million. This is possibly where Sen. Hoskins got the $60 million figure.
However, after examining the 2018 State Debt Report, the principal remaining on the debt was $35.45 million as of last July. This number is comprised of three roughly $10 million payments from 2019-2021, and a $5 million payment in 2022.
Besides the principal on the debt, the state owes an additional $2 million per year for maintenance until 2024, per the original financing agreement.
That all adds up to a total of $47.45 million still owed by the state of Missouri, a far cry from the $60 million that Hoskins cited.
While that is the total contribution still required of the state, the 2018 State Debt Report spells out what St. Louis still owes on the bonds.
"In addition to the State’s contribution, St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis each pay $5 million for principal and interest and $1 million for maintenance each year. Payments began in fiscal year 1992 and conclude in fiscal year 2022."
Hoskins noted that Missouri still owes $60 million on bonds issued to build The Dome at America’s Center.
However, Hoskins’ chief of staff noted that his estimate was high and the 2018 State Debt Report shows that Missouri only owes $47.45 million on those bonds as opposed to the $60 million Hoskins claimed.
This is a simple numbers claim and Hoskins was high on his estimate. We rate the statement Mostly False.
Missouri Office of Administration, 2018 State Debt Report, July 1, 2018
Interview, Rachel Bauer, Denny Hoskins chief of staff, March 12, 2019
Email interview, Chris Moreland, Commissioner’s Office for the State of Missouri, April 4, 2019
Columbia Daily Tribune, "Senate considers sports wagering bill", Jan. 31, 2019
Explore St. Louis, "America’s Center & The Dome", April 8, 2019
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