ST. LOUIS — Labor unions have agreed to work around the clock five days a week without overtime if needed to build an NFL stadium on St. Louis’ blighted north riverfront. Officials said the effort could save $45 million on a project that carries a price tag of as much as $985 million.
Gov. Jay Nixon and Mayor Francis Slay spoke at a news conference Thursday at the offices of the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council union. More than 100 workers crowded the hall as a show of solidarity for the plan to build a 64,000-seat, outdoor stadium and complete construction in two years.
"Today we take another step toward keeping St. Louis an NFL city," Slay said. "This project is more than just a football stadium."
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Nixon said the 24-hour agreement would provide work for about 1,500 people per day during peak construction and result in 3.4 million work hours. The governor said the work would be "transformational" and provide a "jolt of energy" to downtown whether the Rams stay — or not.
"The secret to our success is our work force," Nixon said. "The bigger the job, the harder we work. Together, we’re sending a clear, united message."
The Rams informed officials last month that they were going to a year-to-year lease at the Edward Jones Dome amid speculation that the team may depart for Los Angeles.
Billionaire Rams owner Stan Kroenke is part of a joint venture building an 80,000-seat stadium in the Los Angeles area, adding urgency to the St. Louis effort. Kroenke has not been in direct contact with leaders of the effort, although Rams officials are participating.
Earlier this month, Nixon announced deals with a power company that would relocate lines and a railroad that would move tracks out of the stadium footprint.
Under terms of a 30-year agreement reached in 1995, the Rams had the ability to convert its dome lease to annual terms if the facility was not deemed among the top 25 percent of NFL stadiums based on various criteria. The city’s Convention and Visitors Commission proposed improvements of less than $200 million with the Rams picking up half of the cost and the team countered with a more elaborate plan with a price tag of at least $700 million.
As in previous news conferences, Nixon said if the Rams leave it would cost the state $10 million in annual income tax revenue paid by NFL players.
Nixon said a new stadium would free up the dome for more convention business.
A franchise move would be subject to approval by a three-fourths vote of NFL owners. The league has said no move would be made in time for next season, although Commissioner Roger Goodell has established a committee to review stadium options in Los Angeles and coordinate a possible move.