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The future of the Dome could become a difficult policy question as key maintenance funds expire

The Dome has required millions of dollars in annual maintenance projects, records show, with a costly roof replacement also looming.
Credit: KSDK

ST. LOUIS — If the lawsuit over the Rams' relocation to Los Angeles doesn't go St. Louis' way, local leaders are likely to be stuck with a vexing problem: what to do with the Dome at America's Center, the team's former downtown home.

That's because the public entity that owns the 67,000-seat facility in less than three years will stop receiving tax money meant to maintain it, as spelled out in a more than 30-year-old plan crafted by Missouri lawmakers.

The Dome entity, called the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority (RSA) and funded by the state, city of St. Louis and St. Louis County, also has limited money in its bank accounts — around $6 million as of July, though it has more in restricted investments. That's partly due to the fact it spent $18 million on a failed effort to retain the Rams, who left for Los Angeles in 2016, by developing plans for a Mississippi riverfront stadium. 

And the Dome has required millions of dollars in annual maintenance projects, records show, with a costly roof replacement also looming.

The RSA, along with the city and county, is plaintiff in the 2017 lawsuit against the Rams and National Football League, high-stakes litigation potentially worth more than $1 billion that could go to trial in January 2022, if the league doesn't first succeed in getting it tossed.

The circumstances mean that if the RSA doesn't recover substantial money from the litigation, public leaders will have to "decide what to do" with the Dome, said Vince Schoemehl, who, as St. Louis mayor from 1981 to 1993, was involved in the development of the facility, which opened in 1995 and cost $280 million.

Jim Shrewsbury, the RSA's board chairman, declined to comment, citing the pending litigation. Spokespeople for St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said they couldn't comment for the same reason. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson's office didn't respond to a request for comment.

"I'd add the future of the Dome to the growing list of issues we've got downtown," said St. Louis Alderman Jack Coatar, whose ward includes the building.

Click here to read the full story from the St. Louis Business Journal.