ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The St. Louis Aldermanic Ways & Means Committee Wednesday put their stamp of approval on a pair of controversial sports-related funding measures.
Up first was Board Bill No. 246, which would see the city help pay for upgrades to the 23-year-old home of the St. Louis Blues – Scottrade Center.
It was forwarded by Board president Lewis Reed.
“The NCAA and others now know that the city has begun to take the steps necessary to assure that we can become competitive,” Reed said, after the committee approved the measure on a 5-4 vote.
As amended, the plan would now attract funding to pay off the debt through an increased number of revenue sources.
The bill would shift $800,000 in funding, currently going toward debt payments on the Kiel Opera House, to nearby Scottrade Center in 2021.
That would accrue up to $21 million over the following 27 years.
Then it was on to Board Bill No. 290, the financial package for a new soccer stadium near downtown that would serve as bait for an MLS expansion team. The plan calls for $60 million in funding from the city, with the potential ownership group, SC STL, covering the remainder of the $155 million construction cost.
Here, there was considerable pushback from a couple of committee members, including 18th Ward Alderman, Terry Kennedy.
“The motivation here is not solving the crime problem, the motivation here is not ending poverty, and the motivation here is not ending disenfranchisement. It’s making money and, quote, enjoying ourselves,” Kennedy complained. “It is difficult for someone like me who grew up in St. Louis, in a disenfranchised community, to become excited about the profit motivations of those of money.”
Ward 4 Alderman Samuel L. Moore used the opportunity to pull out large, glossy photos of deteriorating conditions in his neighborhoods. He has used them as props in the past, and Wednesday he repeated his comment about stadium supporters urinating on his leg and telling him it’s rain.
“But I smell it and it’s yellow,” Moore added, a line he used earlier this week when speaking with KMOX News.
St. Louis Football Club vice chairman Jim Kavanaugh said he’s aware many think the money could be better spent, but he believes the soccer stadium will benefit all St. Louisans.
“It will help the overall city, kind of the ecosystem that we’re building within the city,” Kavanaugh says.
Also speaking in favor of the stadium bill during the Ways & Means meeting was Frank Viverito, president of the St. Louis Sports Commission, who said there will be additional benefits to building a 20,000 seat stadium downtown.
“Those include several NCAA championships, DI, DII and DIII,” he said. “Football post-season games including the FCS Division National Championship game.”
Changes to the original proposal include payments team owners would make to the city in place of a 2.5 percent ticket tax.
City leaders expect those payments would total between $7 million to $12 million over a 30-year period.
Board Bill No. 290 passed out of committee by a margin of one vote. Now, both bills move to the full Board of Aldermen committee, which will meet Friday, February 3.
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