- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

ST. LOUIS (AP) - The St. Louis Rams are gone, and the stadium where they played might soon be a thing of the past, too.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1QlAcoT ) reports that one option being considered for renovation of the city’s convention center is tearing down the Edward Jones Dome, home to the Rams from 1995, their first year in St. Louis, through 2015.

NFL owners agreed in January to allow Stan Kroenke to move the team to Los Angeles, leaving St. Louis without pro football.

The dome is part of the St. Louis convention center, where officials have long cited a need to improve exhibit space, expand the center’s ball room and add loading docks and other support facilities. They say the dome as currently configured fails to provide high-quality, contiguous square footage.

The St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission last year created a committee on long-range planning. It developed several options, including one that calls for demolishing the north half of the dome and adding exhibit halls, a ballroom and a rooftop deck with views of the Mississippi River.

“I’m afraid to comment on the Dome. It’s so emotional,” said commissioner Steve O’Loughlin. “Is there a precedence? Yes. You certainly have to consider it. But there’s other options you have to consider, too.”

Convention leaders aren’t speculating on the cost of any massive renovation, but have said they expect it won’t exceed $500 million. Commissioners are expected to receive a report Thursday from an international design firm.

The convention facility, known as The America’s Center, was competitive when it opened 20 years ago, O’Loughlin said. Other cities have now jumped ahead of St. Louis, such as Nashville, Indianapolis and Denver, he said.

Nashville opened a new convention center two years ago with an environmentally friendly roof, lots of natural light, a few dozen loading docks, even a ballroom built to look like the inside of a guitar. Soon thereafter, O’Loughlin said, hotels, condos and other development rose around it.

“This is a huge opportunity for St. Louis,” O’Loughlin said. “Tourism business is big. It helps fill hotels. It helps fill restaurants. It brings energy downtown.”

Kitty Ratcliffe, president of the convention commission, said the dome itself is too high for convention space. The ballroom, at under 30,000 square feet, needs to double in size, and the handful of loading docks needs to quadruple.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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