ST. LOUIS (KMOX/AP) – (UPDATED 5:55 p.m.) Just when it seemed that plans for a $200 million soccer stadium in St. Louis were dead, the proposal has new life.
The Aldermanic Ways and Means Committee reconvened, and by a 5-4 vote, approved a revised proposal.
Sponsoring alderwoman Christine Ingrassia says stadium backers blinked and conceded to a better deal for taxpayers.
Under the plan, the stadium would rely on about $35 million public funds, instead of $60 million.
The plan first hit a snag in December when Missouri’s then Gov.-elect Eric Greitens said he would not support state funding for any stadium, calling it “welfare for millionaires.”
Meanwhile soccer stadium promoter Dave Peacock admits the soccer stadium dream has a long way to go. For one thing, it hinges on Missouri Governor Greiten making the state land available on which the stadium would sit.
But last week, SC STL announced a new financing plan, reached after negotiations with Greitens and his staff, that called for the state to contribute the majority of the land to be used for the 24-acre stadium site, a donation potentially worth tens of millions of dollars.
Some city aldermen said at Thursday’s hearing that cash-strapped St. Louis simply can’t afford to help build a soccer stadium. Alderman Samuel Moore, whose ward is among the poorest in the city, held up photos of dilapidated homes.
“This is what I live with every day,” Moore said.
But the co-sponsor of the bill, Jack Coatar, said the extra tax revenue generated by the stadium and the thousands of fans who would come to games would make the project lucrative for the city in the long run.
The full Board of Aldermen is expected to vote next week whether to place the measure on the April ballot. Because the deadline for April 4 ballot issues was Tuesday, a judge would also have to give the go-ahead.
Our previous reporting is as follows:
A revised version of the Major League Soccer stadium funding bill has been passed 5-4 by the Aldermanic Ways and Means Committee.
The committee initially voted 6-2, failing to advance a plan to build an MLS stadium in downtown St. Louis.
It asks voters to OK about $60 million in taxpayer funds for the project.
A key revision imposes an amusement tax on ticket sales.
Now, the full St. Louis Board of Aldermen is expected to vote next week on whether to place a measure on the April ballot. Because the deadline for April ballot issues was Tuesday, a judge would also have to give the go-ahead.
The committee met last week but adjourned without a vote on the bill, locked in a 4-4 tie.
KMOX’s Michael Calhoun was live-tweeting the Ways and Means hearing this morning.
This story will be updated.
Our previous reporting is as follows:
There’s more than one way to score a goal in soccer, and apparently more than one way to get a soccer stadium funding bill through the St. Louis board of aldermen. Usually Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia would introduce a bill that had to due with Ward 6, which she oversees, but this bill to help fund a $200 million soccer stadium near Union Station was brought by the committee chairman, Steve Conway.
The Aldermanic Ways and Means Committee meets Thursday at 10 a.m., to consider whether to ask the full Board of Aldermen to place a measure on the April ballot asking voters to OK about $60 million in taxpayer funds for the project. The committee met last week but adjourned without a vote.
That’s because the bill was locked in a 4-4 tie between aldermen. Ingrassia says questions remain about whether the cost of the stadium to taxpayers is a smart move and fits the goals of the city’s budget and credit rating.
Alderman Scott Ogilvie warned the ‘use tax’ increase might not be enough to cover the city’s portion of the bill, meaning more tough decisions down the road.
“The reality is, the stadium does not generate revenue to the city,” Ogilvie says. “And it’s an expense we’ll have to bare, when we we’re having a hard time paying for other stuff that people want and need.”
His most prominent selling point against the stadium, is that money should be spent on police officers. He says sometimes city residents can call 911, and get a busy signal due to a lack of officers.
Plans call for the stadium to be built near Union Station. MLS officials are expected to announce two new expansion teams this fall that would begin play in 2020.
Our Michael Calhoun, will be at the Ways and Means Hearing at 10 a.m. Follow him on Twitter for updates this morning.
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