ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – Major League Soccer in St. Louis scores a big goal as an overwhelming majority of the board of aldermen said “yes” to giving voters the chance to have a say on the future of the MLS and a new soccer stadium in St. Louis.
It took hours of discussion with opponents and supporters sounding off. In the end, the board of aldermen finally approved putting the Metro Link sales tax and the MLS stadium issues on the April 4 ballot.
Mayor Francis Slay immediately signed the bills. He called the Metro Link expansion a necessity for the 1/3 of citizens who don’t own a car.
“We have a moral obligation to the single parents without a car, cut off from job opportunities, and their children cut off from education opportunities and healthy food,” he said.
The MetroLink and stadium issues did not pass without some disagreement. Alderman Sam Moore said new sales tax money should go to improve impoverished neighborhoods.
“We don’t share in the money we’re paying into the city and we’re tired of it. Frankly, were tired of getting nothing for our tax dollars,” Moore said.
If voters say “yes,” the city will chip in about $60 million to pay for a new MLS stadium, which will cost about $200 million. The mayor said the deal with the MLS ownership group is much better than the one the city had with the Rams. The soccer team cannot require the stadium to be updated constantly and potentially threaten to leave St. Louis.
“They did agree to sign a 30 year deal where there is no relocation clause they’re committed here for 30 years,” Slay said.
There is a minor hiccup. A judge has to rule to allow the issue to be put on the ballot, because supporters missed a deadline. Officials do not think that will be a problem.
The sales tax increase of half-a-penny would also be used for job training and more cameras at the police department to keep on an eye on dangerous parts of the community.