SC STL has met with Missouri governor-elect Eric Greitens regarding a proposal for an MLS stadium in St. Louis, but neither side will offer specifics about the discussion.
While he is not scheduled to be sworn in until Monday, Greitens has already had an effect on the proposal for a $200 million stadium that could host an MLS expansion franchise. Following comments that were critical of the use of public funds in the plan, a December 20 vote for $40 million in state tax credits to be applied to the project was shelved. In followup remarks, Greitens doubled down on his earlier criticism, suggesting that he does not support public money for the stadium.
SC STL officials have said that they intend to work with the governor-elect, and to do so in a timely fashion because of constraints the group faces. Applications to the MLS are due on January 31, and hashing out the funding model will be vital to delivering a more thorough plan to the league. Furthermore, the City of St. Louis must decide before the end of this month about whether to place a referendum for public funds for the stadium on April’s ballot.
Both SC STL and members of the Greitens administration confirmed that a meeting took place on Wednesday, but whether that discussion swayed the governor-elect remains to be seen. More from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Greitens’ senior adviser Austin Chambers emailed a statement Wednesday afternoon confirming the meeting but revealing little about how the governor-elect’s relationship with SC STL would proceed.
“They had an open, frank, and constructive exchange. He remains opposed to using state funding to build the soccer stadium,” Chambers wrote. “The Governor-Elect welcomes and supports efforts to bring economic development and jobs to the state of Missouri. He looks forward to continuing this discussion.”
In a telephone interview, SC STL vice chairman Jim Kavanaugh said “it was a very productive meeting.” Kavanaugh said he and other lead investors had met with Greitens and his staff in Jefferson City.
“I thought the governor-elect and his staff were sincerely interested and open-minded to hearing and understanding our plan,” Kavanaugh said. “I’m not saying they’re in complete agreement with everything we had to say. They are interested in seeing if there’s a way to create a win-win on this.”
Previous estimates for the stadium project have included the $40 million in tax credits, as well as $80 million in city funds. In that model, SC STL would be expected to cover a $150 million expansion fee, $80 million for the stadium, potential cost overruns, and maintenance during the life of a 30-year lease.
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