ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)- As momentum continues building behind the scenes and in public for St. Louis to land a Major League Soccer franchise, there are still lots of questions. Who would lead the ownership group, where might a soccer-specific stadium be located, and who would pay for it being chief among them.
If you’re looking for some guidance from a city that’s going down the same path before, check out what’s going on in the Twin Cities. On Wednesday, Minnesota United, the soccer team that will join the MLS in either 2017 or 2018, unveiled renderings for the stadium it will one day call home in St. Paul’s Snelling-Midway neighborhood.
According to the announcement, the team will finance construction of the $150 million dollar project, a 20,000 seat stadium built on the site of a former Metro bus barn owned by a regional planning agency. The stadium will belong to the public once it is built.
An adjacent property owner has plans for a mixed use retail-residential-office development.
Even though a soccer stadium is a much less expensive endeavor than a football facility, the project isn’t without some of the familiar-sounding pitfalls that St. Louis experienced with the stadium proposal to keep the Rams here. Public money has already been spent for a law firm’s work to negotiate a deal with the club on behalf of the city of St. Paul.
Over at the website Field of Schemes, editor Neil deMause still has lots of questions about what the final agreement and lease will entail.
The Minnesota proposal figures to ask far less of state lawmakers there to get it done. It needs a property tax exemption, which in theory by itself wouldn’t cost any revenue because the property hasn’t been on tax rolls in decades, and a sales tax exemption on construction materials.
One interesting comparison between what Minnesota hopes to bring to fruition and what the MLS might want here is the stadium location.
The St. Paul site is not in the city’s downtown core. MLS Commissioner Don Garber told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the league likes downtown facilities that can make teams part of the “center of gravity.” The league has already announced plans to study St. Louis sites and is intrigued by the riverfront spot eyed for the NFL stadium. An unsolicited set of designs plotted how a soccer stadium might fit at Union Station.
But the league needs only to look to Kansas City to see that not everything needs to be downtown. Sporting KC’s Children’s Mercy Park is 17 miles from downtown.