The St. Louis Board of Aldermen's Ways and Means Committee passed a pair of funding bills Wednesday night.
The soccer stadium financing agreement, as well as the bill to fund improvements to the Scottrade Center, both passed the St. Louis Board of Aldermen Ways and Means Committee, and will now be considered by the full board.
The bill to fund Scottrade Center improvements was the first to pass. The Blues ownership says the $138 million renovations, of which the city would fund less $67.5 million, is necessary to keep the venue competitive.
Then the discussion moved to the soccer stadium bill. Within the past month, the bill was nearly killed in committee, then revived, and now passed, 4 votes to 3.
Also passed was a companion bill amending the Entertainment License Tax to account for the soccer stadium, enabling the city to receive revenue from ticket sales. The city would contribute $60 million of the $155 million stadium, but with the revenue from ticket sales, SC STL Vice Chairman Jim Kavanaugh said it’s a net gain for the city: “In income for the city, we’ll generate approximately $78 million, based on the plan we put together.”
The aldermen opposed to these bills felt focusing on soccer and amusement is the wrong move for St. Louis right now. Eighteenth Ward Alderman Terry Kennedy explained, “We should be looking at some more significant issues of poverty, and those parts of our community that have disenfranchisement. That doesn’t mean these types of programs wouldn’t happen, but the focus would be different. There needs to be a paradigm shift in the city of St. Louis.”
Kavanaugh did say the team would partake in significant community outreach. He said, “Soccer is a sport that you can help develop kids on and off the field, so we think we can have a positive impact on them.”
The next hurdle for these projects will be passing the full board of aldermen. Both bills for the Scottrade renovations and soccer stadium will be read to the board again on Friday, then will be debated and voted on February 10.
The first bill was the Scottrade Center funding bill, which passed by a vote of 5-4. The bill calls for $138 million in spending to renovate the building that opened in 1994.