JEFFERSON CITY — A senior Republican’s attempt to shed more light on failed efforts to keep the Rams’ professional soccer team from leaving St. Louis appears to be dimming.
State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick has twice backed efforts to hire a company to review spending related to the state’s effort to persuade Rams owner Stan Kroenke and his National Football League colleagues to keep the team in Missouri.
However, despite the lure of a $100,000 payday, in no case did a vendor come forward to bid on the contract.
In a statement, Fitzpatrick’s office said the search for answers may be coming to an end.
“Two failed procurements make it unlikely that a third procurement at the level currently provided will be successful,” his office said.
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House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith, R-Carthage, is also signaling that money for the review may not be earmarked in the forthcoming federal spending plan.
“We’ve been trying to get this off the ground for a couple of years and haven’t had much luck,” Smith told the Post-Dispatch.
Fitzpatrick, a Republican, floated the idea of a review when he was a state legislator and served as the powerful chair of the House Budget Committee. He argued that the state should hire a company to determine whether the more than $17 million spent developing an open-air riverfront stadium for the football team was wisely spent.
Of the millions spent keeping the team going, St. Louis-based architecture firm HOK made the most, earning more than $10.5 million. Dome Authority attorneys Blitz, Bardgett & Deutsch billed nearly $900,000. Bonds and financing attorneys for Thompson Coburn calculated $760,000.
Most of the design work for the riverside stadium was awarded without a competitive tender, and many of the contractors had political connections. Companies hired by the task force to stop the Rams from leaving town gave more than $200,000 to former Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, and former St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay $300,000. Blitz’s company, for example, gave both of them more than $10,000.
Nixon joined one of the law firms, Dowd Bennett, after leaving office. As governor, Nixon had appointed former Anheuser-Busch executive Dave Peacock to work with attorney Bob Blitz to lead the stadium proposal.
A year ago, the state asked a contractor to conduct the assessment, but no company submitted bids.
In September, the state made another attempt to find a company willing to conduct the study.
Again, no law firms, accountants, or other financial services firms came forward to take the job.
The stalled review comes as the focus in St. Louis is on dividing more than $500 million that the region has received in a settlement with the National Football League over Kroenkes’ decision to move the team to the West Coast , and the winner is.
In November, Fitzpatrick said the settlement, which will send the money to the city, county and Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority, known as the RSA, shouldn’t stop the review from going ahead.
Smith said the lack of a contract didn’t mean the officials gave up completely.
“The desire remains to find out what happened when the Rams left the state,” he said.
“The Treasurer remains concerned about the process of selecting vendors and the purpose each has served in the stadium effort,” his office said.
Fitzpatrick, who is running for state auditor against Rep. David Gregory, R-Sunset Hills, said there was an alternative to hiring an outside firm to conduct the review.
“If the services cannot be obtained at a reasonable cost for the taxpayer, it could be that the state auditor should check this promptly,” his office said.