Concerns Raised Over Funding for St. Louis Stadium

St. Louis MLS stadium rendering

The push for an MLS stadium in St. Louis is drawing concerns in some corners, as some officials are questioning the financing of the project. 

Recent weeks have been marked by solid momentum for St. Louis’ bid for an MLS expansion franchse. SC STL has emerged as a possible ownership group, and efforts are now focused on constructing a new stadium near Union Station in downtown St. Louis.

Like any stadium effort, St. Louis faces some questions when it comes to funding. Voters are expected to participate in a referendum in April that calls for $80 million in city funds for the stadium, but St. Louis officials concede that the exact funding source for the plan has not been determined.

Another question is the $40 million in tax credits that the city is seeking from the State of Missouri. That request is to be considered by the Missouri Development Finance Board, which recently received an application from the city. However, during a meeting in Jefferson City on Thursday, one board member questioned if the state legislature should handle this request. More from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

In a hastily scheduled meeting of the Missouri Finance Development Board Thursday, member John Mehner said it might be better to seek approval from the Legislature for the $40 million in aid, rather than rely on the 11-member commission appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon.

“This one’s just got me a little uncomfortable,” Mehner said. “This is probably the least complete tax credit application I have seen.”

The timing of the proposal has been a source on concern for some, but backers of the project say that St. Louis needs to line up its case to the MLS sooner rather than later. More from KMOV:

The project hinges on whether Major League Soccer awards a franchise to SCSTL, one of the two groups looking to build a stadium and land a team. Jim Woodcock of SCSTL said his group should learn “pretty quickly” the timeline for the league’s expansion.

“The number of teams the league is going to expand to, the application process and what that application fee may be and that’s when the ball will get rolling” Woodcock said. “The application process is indeed a process, we’ve got to show a lot and we’re prepared to do that.”

One member of the Development Finance Board expressed concerns that at this point there are just too many unanswered questions about the entire project.

“Time will have to pass before we can get an answer to some of those,” [city land director of land clearance for redevelopment authority director Otis] Williams said of those concerns. “But essentially though, I think when we come back here for the final approval we’ll have more information”

The state board is expected to vote on the tax credit application on December 20.

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