St. Louis soccer stadium funding bill is dead – STLtoday.com
The sponsor of a city proposal to put $80 million into a new Major League Soccer stadium said Tuesday that the bill is effectively dead.
“That bill will not be moving forward,” Alderman Christine Ingrassia, 6th Ward, said at Tuesday’s meeting of the aldermanic Ways & Means Committee.
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 Major League Soccer investors to ask for less public money to build a $200 million stadium.Â Mayor’s Office spokeswoman Maggie Crane said the city had asked SC STL to lower the $80 million request, but didn’t say by how much.
In a statement, Mayor Francis Slay said his office will have a clearer view of the proposal’s future “by week’s end.”
“We remain committed to working withÂ SC STL to develop a sound financial proposal to put before the voters. That said, we don’t yet have an agreement,” Slay said. “There are a lot of components that still need to come together, especially support from the State.”
With two weeks before the Board of Aldermen need to pass a ballot proposition for the April 4 municipal elections, it’s also unclear how the state could help. Gov. Eric Greitens last week repeated his opposition to public financing for stadiums. The investor group was set to receive $40 million in state tax credits Dec. 20 before Greitens came out in opposition.
MLS expansion franchise applications are due to the league Jan. 31.
Crane, prior to Ingrassia’s announcement, said the proposal would need to be “the best deal for taxpayers.” The proposal called for the city to own the $200 million stadium and lease it to an MLS team, which would be responsible for cost overruns and maintenance for 30 years.
Ingrassia cited the lack of a financial agreement she could support, as well as investors’ difficulty in securing state financing.Â
SC STL Â spokesman Jim Woodcock did not address the city’s chances now for securing an MLS franchise. But in a statement Woodcock said the group met with Ingrassia for nearly two hours Friday and and hasn’t heard from her since, despite multiple emails and phone calls through the weekend and Monday.
“She has not called or responded to us so until we hear from her directly, it’s hard to respond to statements made in the media,” Woodcock said.
Ingrassia said the ownership group didn’t spend enough time reaching out to the community as their plan developed.Â
“It’s not just that they didn’t include me in the process early enough, but the public in general,” Ingrassia said. “There should’ve been community hearings and an ability formed at the Board of Aldermen to digest the details but for the public to as well.”
Ingrassia said she wanted SC STL to show a proposal that was at least “revenue neutral” on the city’s budget over time.Â
“It looked like to me, and in the conversations I had with people who have more expertise in the field of public financing, that they were basically just re-packaging the same subsidies in different ways,” Ingrassia said. “So they were asking for way more than I feel like we could support here in the city.”
Alderman Steve Conway, who chairs the Ways & Means Committee, said it’s possible a proposal could be revisited and approved in time for a summer special election. Conway, 8th Ward, didn’t say what those options might be that would win over enough aldermen to put it on a ballot.
“There are alternatives going forward,” Conway said.
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