As discussions continue, some members of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen are expressing concerns over potential city ownership of a proposed St. Louis MLS stadium.
A St. Louis MLS expansion pitch led by members of Enterprise Holding’s Taylor family and World Wide Technology CEO Jim Kavanaugh is proposing the construction of a new soccer-specific stadium at a site west of Union Station. The group has indicated that it is prepared to pay $250 million in cash for the downtown stadium’s construction, but is seeking a series of tax incentives as part of the overall funding model. In addition, the current proposal calls for the stadium to fall under public ownership while the team acts as a tenant.
On Friday, St. Louis Board of Aldermen president Lewis Reed introduced a resolution that included a series tax incentives for the stadium, as well as a recommendation to allocate half of ticket tax revenue into a city fund that would cover stadium repairs. The city’s potential role in St. Louis MLS stadium ownership is being met with concerns, as some Aldermen fear that the city would be left on the hook for costly repairs down the road. Although Alderman Christine Ingrassia pulled her resolution from the agenda that called for the MLS group to own the stadium, this aspect of the plan was debated by members of the board. More from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Megan Green, a Tower Grove South alderman and candidate for board president next year, said that she appreciated the ownership’s large cash commitment but that the current resolution wasn’t good enough.
“The city should not be in the business of owning stadiums,” Green said. “We have shown time and time again that it has not worked out for taxpayers.”
Ingrassia ended up pulling her resolution off of the agenda Friday morning before it could be read to the board. She said Reed accused her of trying to sink the soccer stadium effort.
But she also acknowledged that she had an outstanding dispute with one of the Enterprise companies, for about $3,000, after renting a car for a conference and being charged for damages she says she didn’t cause.
The funding proposal in the new plan is a departure from St. Louis’s last MLS expansion effort, which stalled after city voters rejected a ballot question in April 2017 that called for $60 million in public funding. While the latest financing model does not outline that public contribution, questions over ownership of the facility come almost two years after the city approved financing to help cover renovations to another professional sports facility it owns–Enterprise Center, home of the NHL’s Blues.
The tax incentives that were outlined in Friday’s resolution include free use of the site, a 50% break on ticket taxes, a complete exemption on stadium construction materials, and a three-percent sales tax on goods sold within the facility. An Alderman Housing, Urban Development and Zoning committee is expected to consider the resolution soon. We took an in-depth look at the MLS expansion picture in a story early last week.
Rendering by HOK reflects stadium proposal from previous bid.
RELATED STORIES: Board Approves Tax Incentives for St. Louis MLS Stadium; St. Louis MLS Stadium Funding Model Unveiled; Option on Potential St. Louis MLS Stadium Site Extended; New St. Louis MLS Bid Announced; St. Louis MLS Expansion Talks Back on the Table; St. Louis MLS Stadium Funding Voted Down