Near North Riverfront, Site of Stadium?

Update: The Rams moved to Los Angeles, and the stadium was never built.

I’m sure many of my readers are curious about the proposed football stadium in the Near North Riverfront just north of Laclede’s Landing, hemmed in today by I-44, I-70, the MLK Bridge and the river. It is an incredibly interesting part of town, one that has seen around 200 years of settlement, having been located just north of the original town of St. Louis. Traveling back one hundred or two hundred years, you would have seen dozens of bustling factories, workers’ houses, a shot tower, and miles of railroad tracks snaking through the area. You would have seen ferries bringing trains across the river, and eventually you would have seen majestic power plants spring up along those rail lines and the Mississippi bank.


The Compton and Dry’s Pictorial St. Louis from 1876, as well as the Sanborn Maps from the early Twentieth Century show just what a bustling industrial neighborhood the riverfront was for over a century. You can see the shot tower above, and below in ruins.


So that bustling neighborhood has been mostly eradicated, but there’s still a lot left, and worth examining. Honestly, when I look at the area from satellite images, it looks desolate. But when I’m walking around this area, it doesn’t feel like that.

NFL stadium proposal - St. Louis, MO

But anyway, the plans for the football stadium would eliminate a huge swath of the area, along with the street grid. I’ve been told that the rendering is largely a joke meant to show “due diligence” on the part of local and state leaders, but the fact that such a silly and absurd plan would even be made public is disturbing.

Buildings that would be demolished


The first building, the old Sligo Steel Building, has already been demolished in the last year. But the stunning warehouse below would be demolished too. The ares has already lost so much, including the famed Belcher Sugar Refinery, which had been on the riverfront for generations.


The giant Cotton Belt Freight Depot would be right in the middle stadium’s footprint.


Old power plants, such as this one with a truncated smokestack, would also be eliminated.


Sadly, buildings such as this refrigerated warehouse below, are starting to deteriorate. I’m sure they’ll show a picture like this to justify demolishing everything.


Another power plant, this old Laclede one below, would be knocked down as well.


Buildings that would Remain


The august Ashley Street Power Plant appears in the renderings, though weirdly “cleaned up” for perhaps an Anheuser-Busch restaurant or something. Where the steam for the steam loop that serves downtown would come from if the plant was converted into a tourist destination is not addressed by the stadium planners.


Above, this now renovated building is the home of Bissingers Chocolate, and would sit just north of the parking lots.

NFL stadium proposal - St. Louis, MO

But really, this is all an exercise in futility. They’re never going to build a stadium there with acres of parking lots that sit empty for 358 days of the year. And more importantly, and what is just briefly addressed in the stadium renderings, is that the site possesses one of the most important rail lines in the entire city of St. Louis. At one end sits Anheuser-Busch and a major railyard, and at the other end is Mallinckrodt and the Merchants’ Bridge–not to mention dozens of other customers who use those tracks. That railroad track is not going anywhere. The planners have the rail line snaking sharply around the stadium. Yeah, right. Trains can’t make that sharp of a turn. They would be derailing constantly, on one of the busiest freight lines in the region. This whole thing is just a joke so we can say we tried to present a plan to Kroenke. I bet Nixon and Peacock have never even actually been tothe Near North Riverfront.

16 Comments Add yours

  1. Ann says:

    Ahhh… thanks for doing the research… I’ve been curious.

    You know, the Ashley plant IS still an active plant. It’s not simply a cool shell of an old building. It is only PARTIALLY used but I’ve been in there and it’s been humming!

    I’d be so sad to some of those buildings go. I think that on the next nice day, I’m going for a drive.

    But I also agree – interesting idea, but I’d be shocked if it came through.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Yes, Ashley provides the steam for the steam loop that goes to many of the office buildings in downtown. I do not know the statistics for how successful it is, how many customers it has, or if any of the buildings it serves could make do without the steam.

  2. Kiwi Carlisle says:

    What is the column in the first photo?

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      You know, someone told me at some point, but now I’ve forgotten. It was not originally in that location.

      1. Tom Maher - Kirkwood MO says:

        The column originally had a statue at its top – I think of an angel-like figure.
        Link from thread here:
        There is another photo here (scroll way down), but no further info:
        Odd that I could find nothing more although, like Chris, I cannot recall where I read about it.

  3. Tom Fleming says:

    The first building, Sligo Steel is now demolished.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Sheesh, I obviously need to get back down there and update my notes.

    2. samizdat says:

      Apparently, the casino didn’t have enough parking *eye roll*

      1. Chris Naffziger says:

        Right, as they lobbied the city to get “no parking” signs up all over the streets around the casino. I KNOW I used to park on those streets, but in the last year or so parking has been outlawed. No doubt to keep visitors off of the scary streets of St. Louis.

        1. samizdat says:

          Hmmm, my cynical, experienced self, knowing what I know about corporate behavior, will demure with regards to the likelihood of the no parking efforts being to protect us citizens. Rather, I would venture to guess that the casino would rather 1. Rid itself of competition on the Landing, and to this end, prohibit street parking, and 2. limit the ability of Landing patrons from parking anywhere else but their lot and garage.

  4. Justin Striebel says:

    I’m not saying this stadium should be built or not, just offering up a response to your point in the last paragraph. It would seem to me that if you’re correct about that snaking around the stadium being too sharp, that there’s an easy fix.

    You simply smooth it out. All it does to this proposal is rearrange concrete.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Yes, that would definitely work. I still think this is all just smoke and mirrors, hence the lack of care in planning a logical train track right of way. Considering it took you less than a day to present a logical path, one wonders why they didn’t bother after months(?) of work.

  5. CfR says:

    Kinda funny how a one powerful man, Kroenke, can essentially hold a city hostage like this – didn’t Bane do a similar thing in the latest Batman movie? It’s made all the more worse by his complete and utter silence, not publicly disclosing any intentions to our city. We can barely find funds to keep up with paving our streets, but our NFL team hints at leaving and all of a sudden half a billion dollars materialize. It’s almost as if professional football is a public utility that is required to sustain our modern standard of living.

    Regardless, it is frustrating that while the proposed footprint of the stadium is predominantly vacant warehouses, there ARE in fact several operating businesses that would get displaced should this ridiculous proposal go through – businesses that have invested in that area.

    Anyone have an idea as to what is replacing that Sligo Steel building? There is some sort of construction work happening. (I suspect a casino parking lot.)

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      I suspect that, too. The casino has been hellbent on eliminating anything “unsightly” (and yes, I don’t mind the demolition of the Sligo Steel Building per se) that might scare patrons. Several beautiful and structurally sound warehouses have been torn down at their behest. Let’s stop supporting businesses whose only responsibility is to their stockholders. Remember when industrialists actually believed in helping their cities?

  6. Kels says:

    Does anyone know if there are any petitions to be signed for city of St. Louis residents who appose the building of this stadium?

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      I assume so. I know of several Facebook pages already. I have a feeling the governor would ignore opponents anyway.

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