Amended St. Louis Major League Soccer stadium passes after initial defeat

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - The future of a proposed soccer stadium for St. Louis was up for debate Thursday morning. The Board of Aldermen Ways and Means Committee passed the proposal for the proposed stadium after some wheeling and dealing. The Ways and Means committee passes the Major League Soccer proposal to the full Board of Aldermen after earlier defeat. The vote was 5-4.

The committee agreed to waive half of the city's entertainment tax on ticket sales at the stadium. They say that would bring in between $7.5 million to $12 million for the city general fund for the next 30 years. They agreed to secure $5 million over 30 years form the tax increment financing district overseen by northside developer Paul McKee. The existing TIF district includes 24 acres west of Uniion Station where the stadium would be built.

The $60 million proposal for public financing came with two amendments. There is a guarantee that the city would not use general revenue to cover the debt proposed source if a business use tax did not generate enough money to cover it. The bill will also require clarity from the state of Missouri on it's expenses released to the project in order to proceed.

"SC STL is very grateful for the thorough review and passage of our bill by the Ways and Means Committee and we now look forward to a public hearing and the full Board of Aldermen in the coming weeks. There is clearly more work ahead, but today’s result brings us much closer to a ballot measure that will allow city voters the opportunity to make St. Louis a future home for a Major League Soccer expansion franchise," said spokesperson for SC STL Jim Woodcock in a statement.

The committee also voted 5 to 1 to send a half cent sales tax increase for MetroLink expansion and other city services to the Board of Aldermen. this tax increase, which would also goes to voters, would create an increase in business use tax also used to fund the city stadium. Both proposals could receive a final vote from the Board of Aldermen next week. Then the city would have until February 21 to get a Circuit Court Judge to agree to put them on the April 4th ballot

The city needs the courts to intervene because the original deadline for approving ballot proposals was Tuesday.

Aldermen again tabled a bill proposing $67.5 million in bonds for renovations to Scotttrade Center, home of the St. Louis Blues.

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens said the state has more pressing needs than a soccer stadium for a potential Major League Soccer franchise. Greitens previously referred to providing tax credits or state aid for stadiums as “welfare for millionaires.”

St. Louis is one of 10 cities in the running for an MLS team. SC STL, the ownership group trying to establish an expansion team in town, proposed using $40 million in state tax credits for development and construction of a stadium, with an additional $80 million in support from local taxpayers. That $80 million would have been subject to a public vote on April 4, if the St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved putting the issue on the ballot.

For its part, the ownership group would cover the $150 million MLS expansion fee and contribute $80 million toward the construction of the stadium, as well as future maintenance and cost overruns. The proposed stadium would be built on 24 acres of land just west of Union Station. The Interstate 64/Highway 40 exit ramps at that location would need to be moved. The city bought the property from MoDOT in September 2016.

The league is aiming to award two new franchises in the third quarter of 2017. Those teams will begin play in 2020. Two more clubs will be awarded and begin play at dates still to be determined.

 

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