Debate continues on financing for renovation of Scottrade Center

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ST. LOUIS – The battle over who should pay for Scottrade upgrades continued on Monday.

Alderwoman Cara Spencer said she is concerned that the city could go into debt and hurt its credit rating.

Spencer said that her latest concerns are based on a recent report put out Standard & Poor’s Global.

“S & P is saying, if you take on more debt and don’t have a resulting income to pay for it you will be downgraded,” explained Spencer.

Spencer said that according to the study, the $65 million project, $44 million of which will be coming from general city revenue could ruin the city’s credit rating.

“Every time that credit rating falls it becomes more and more expensive for the City of St. Louis to borrow and to do business as a municipality,” she said.

Spencer said that she is not against the idea of upgrading the center but money coming from the general fund puts a burden on tax payers.

“Anytime you are using general revenue to pay for something, that is a real concern, especially as the City of St. Louis budget continues to shrink,” Spencer explained, “this last year, we saw a $17 million deficit which meant we were not able to meet our obligations as a city.”

Spokesman Jeff Rainford with Kiel Center Partners acknowledged the study but added that it didn’t mention whether the project is good or bad for the city.

“The reason I say that is because Scottrade is convinced that when they make these improvements, they’ll bring even more events to the city and we are only talking about a very narrow slice here,” Rainford said, “we are talking about revenue generated by Scottrade itself.”

Spencer said that taking money from taxpayers for the project means there will be no money left for general public services.

“Who is going to pay for the police officers to protect this asset? Who is going to pay for the streets to get you here?” said Spencer.

Rainford explained that contrary to what Spencer said, there is more than enough money available to help pay for the improvements.

“Essentially what she’s saying is that the city has a revenue problem,” Rainford said, “in order to deal with the problem we’re going to do damage to a source of revenue for the city which will result in less revenue and exasperate the revenue problem in the long run. I think Cara Spencer’s way of looking at it is not accurate but she’s also not looking at the bigger picture which is this is a major economic driver for the city.”

In another statement to Fox 2, Kiel Center Partners said:

“We are determined to see the Scottrade Center Financing Agreement executed by the Comptroller after it was passed by the Board of Aldermen and signed into law by the Mayor of St. Louis.

This is an essential project for St. Louis.

Without the promised financing, our city’s ability to keep and pursue major events that are critical to jobs and our economy is severely at risk.”

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