Fenton Mayor Touts Chrysler Plant as Possible Location for the St. Louis Rams

Justin Gibson@JustinNColumbiaCorrespondent IIIMay 18, 2012

As the St. Louis Rams and the city's Convention and Visitors Commission (CVC) try to find common ground during the first stages of lease negotiations, another candidate has possibly thrown his hat into the mix to keep the Rams in the St. Louis region.

Fenton mayor Dennis Hancock touted the former Chrysler plant location as having "plenty of room for a new Rams stadium, lots of parking, and space for other development," in an interview with KMOX on Thursday

“It has a half-mile of highway frontage, it’s at the intersection of Highway 270 and 44,” Hancock points out. “It’s in a vibrant area, a great location for redevelopment.”

Hancock went onto explain that the Chrysler plant, which was razed last year, sits on 300 acres of vacant land along I-44 that would give the Rams five million square feet of available space for development.

St. Louis lost 43,000 jobs and $15 billion when the Chrysler plant closed in 2009. No acceptable suitors have been found to purchase the land since.

In his interview with KMOX, Hancock said he's not actively pitching the land, nor has he had talks with the Rams or CVC. He's just open to selling the site that put $1 million a year to Fenton's tax base and provided many people with jobs.

Hancock may just be merely floating an idea out there so Fenton is not forgotten if the Rams and CVC reach an impasse. The two sides have exchanged proposals and are likely to be headed to arbitration June 15.

The Rams' proposal, which can be read in its entirety online, calls for many improvements, including but not limited to:

- Moving roof panels in to allow for more natural light. The panels would be in a small portion of the roof.

-The east side of the Dome would be demolished to add new entrances and party areas.

-Two video scoreboards in the northeast and southwest corners of the stadium measuring 37'x97'.

-Fixed general and club seating and a removable playing field surface that would provide approximately 66,000 seats for an NFL game. The lower bowl would be completely remodeled.

-Increased and expanded public amenities such as concession stands, stores and public toilets.

-Upgrades to the Rams' locker room and personnel offices.

In the proposal, the Rams tasked the CVC to find cost estimates and pricing for the renovations. A source within the CVC told Fox 2 Now that the Rams' proposed improvements would close the Edward Jones Dome for two to three years and cost nearly $700 million.

The proposal would put the Dome in the mix for future Super Bowls, and the lower bowl seating improvements would make the Dome able to "accommodate national and international soccer events." It is assumed college bowl games would also be an option.

The Edward Jones Dome, which opened in 1995, was financed primarily with $256 million in revenue bonds, which is still being paid off with $24 million annually in tax money. The state of Missouri is responsible for $12 million of that, while St. Louis City and County each pay $6 million.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Rams pay $500,000 each year to lease the Dome ($250,000 in rent and $250,000 in reimbursement for game-day costs). The team profits from advertising, concessions and box office revenue.