SBD/January 11, 2017/Facilities

St. Louis' MLS Hopes Take Hit After Proposed $80M Stadium Bill "Effectively Dead"

MLS officials have shown strong interest in St. Louis, but only if a new stadium is built
St. Louis Alderman Christine Ingrassia, who sponsors the bill to put $80M into a new MLS stadium in the city, said that the proposal is "effectively dead," according to a front-page piece by Faulk & Addo of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Ingrassia said that the mayor’s office "informed SC STL over the weekend that the bill would not move forward." Whether that "kills the city’s dreams of an MLS franchise is yet to be determined, but the odds against are stacked." City officials wanted MLS investors to ask for "less public money" to build a $200M stadium. Mayor Francis Slay's Communications Dir Maggie Crane said that the city had asked SC STL to lower its $80M request but "didn’t say by how much." With two weeks until the deadline for placing propositions on the April 4 ballot, it is also "unclear how the state could help." Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens last week "repeated his opposition to public financing." Faulk & Addo note MLS expansion franchise applications are "due to the league Jan. 31." Ingrassia said that the ownership group "didn’t spend enough time reaching out to the community as their plan developed." City Alderman Steve Conway, who chairs the Ways & Means Committee, said that it is "possible a proposal could be revisited and approved in time for a summer special election" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/11). The AP's Jim Salter noted MLS officials have "shown strong interest in St. Louis, but only if a new stadium is built." The city would "own the stadium and lease it to the MLS franchise for 30 years." SC STL would pay about $80M of the stadium cost and cover the $150M MLS expansion fee (AP, 1/10).

BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD: In St. Louis, Jose de Jesus Ortiz notes SC STL "must come up with a different attack." Now is the time to "rally the St. Louis community and literally go back to the drawing board and see if a more inexpensive soccer stadium" can be built for $120M. Ortiz: "Moreover, it's time to challenge local soccer fans to stand up and show MLS their commitment." SC STL "should gauge the interest by asking for deposits on potential season-ticket packages." Ortiz: "Let’s show MLS how excited and committed we are about making an MLS franchise not only succeed but thrive here." While the stadium funding issues "are ironed out, let’s start a season-ticket campaign to show MLS how many folks are willing to buy packages to a season that won’t start" until '20, at the earliest (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/11).
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