St. Louis Funding Plan Hits Another Delay

MLS St. Louis Stadium rendering

The plan to contribute $60 million in city funds for a new MLS stadium in St. Louis has hit a roadblock, as it was discussed on Thursday without a resolution.

After initially proposing to allocate $80 million in city funds toward a roughly $200 million stadium for an MLS expansion franchise, the Board of Alderman opted to drop the bill. It briefly appeared that a new plan for the funding, which called for a reduced contribution of $60 million, could move forward on Thursday morning.

The aldermanic ways and means committee tasked with the proposal, however, wound up tabling the discussion. This represents another delay for a stadium concept that at one point was gaining considerable momentum. Funding discussions heated over the final weeks of 2016, but began to stall after Eric Greitens–who was sworn in as Missouri’s new governor earlier this month–criticized a proposal for $40 million in state tax credits for the project.

The proposal that was shelved on Thursday calls for the city to contribute $50 million in revenue generated from an increased business use sales tax, plus an additional $10 million in the form of reimbursements of economic activity taxes from the stadium. The tax increase can only be finalized through a referendum, and officials have been hoping to finalize the language of the proposal this month in order to have it on April’s ballot.

It remains to be seen what the fall out from Thursday’s inaction will be, as the ways and means committee is not scheduled to meet again until Monday morning. More from The St. Louis-Post Dispatch:

Stadium supporters were racing to get the proposal through the board by Tuesday in order to get it on the April 4 ballot for a public vote. [Alderman Stephen] Conway now says the bill likely wouldn’t go to the board until Jan. 27, three days past the deadline to approve it for the ballot.

Conway said if that’s not successful, it’s possible supporters will turn to the courts to extend the deadline and get a full vote at the Board of Aldermen. Board President Lewis Reed only shook his head when asked what would happen if the board doesn’t take action next week.

SC STL representatives were caught off guard by Thursday’s developments. Spokesman Jim Woodcock later said in a telephone interview that they remain optimistic.

“The delay was disappointing, but if the purpose of the delay is so that everyone can dig into the contents of the financing agreement between now and Monday, then that’s completely understandable,” Woodcock said. “That should be good for all parties.”

The proposal that was debated on Thursday also includes a provision that calls on the state to participate in environmental cleanup and infrastructure work on the site. SC STL and other interested groups have to submit their expansion proposals to the MLS by the end of this month.

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