Eric Greitens Doubles Down on MLS Stadium Stance

MLS St. Louis Stadium rendering

Weeks after criticizing a funding plan for a proposed MLS stadium in St. Louis, Missouri governor-elect Eric Greitens is reaffirming his stance. 

In December, Greitens, who is set to be sworn in next week, criticized the proposal for public funds for the proposed stadium in downtown St. Louis that would house an MLS expansion team. His remarks came as the Missouri Development Finance Board was set to consider a proposal for $40 million in tax credits for the project, which both St. Louis and SC STL officials cited as a key piece of the funding model. Following Greitens’ comments, however, a December 20 vote on the tax credits was postponed.

For the time being, it does not seem that Greitens will change his stance. In recent remarks, he ruled out the possibility of using state funds for stadiums, effectively doubling down on his stance against the proposal in St. Louis. That has prompted concerns among St. Louis officials. More from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“I was hoping to get to the point where this proposal made sense for St. Louis, but I’m feeling that less and less,” 6th Ward Alderman Christine Ingrassia said by phone.

And the mayor’s office said Monday that getting a stadium built would be difficult without the state.

“We’ve remained committed to working with SC STL to develop a financing plan that makes sense for the city of St. Louis and includes a vote of the people,” Mayor’s Chief of Staff Mary Ellen Ponder said in an email. “Having said that, the state of Missouri and Gov.-elect Greitens are critical. It will be tough to get this done without the state’s support.”

Greitens reiterated his description of state aid for stadiums as ”welfare for millionaires” but said he “looks forward to meeting with the leaders of the MLS project to see if there’s a way for them to bring private-sector funding to bring a soccer team to the state of Missouri.”

“We are not going to use money from the people of the state of Missouri for what I believe is corporate welfare,” Greitens said. “We’ve got far too many core priorities of government that have to be invested in.”

The key issue in this case is timing. St. Louis has been set to consider a proposal to allocate $80 million in city funds to the stadium, which is expected to cost about $200 million. The St. Louis Board of Alderman must approve the plan by January 24 to have the stadium on April’s ballot for voter approval.

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