Major League Soccer

Mayor Francis Slay signs legislation that will ask voters to approve a sales tax increase to fund a Major League Soccer stadium and a north-south MetroLink line. (Feb. 3, 2017)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

If there’s one issue that’s provoked more fiery passions among St. Louis politicians, it’s using their constituents’ dollars to fund sports stadiums.

From the unsuccessful venture to keep Rams football in St. Louis to a pending proposal to nab a Major League Soccer team, there’s little question that opponents and proponents of the funding method have strong opinions — including the Democratic candidates seeking to become St. Louis’ next mayor.

St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed presides over Friday's session of the Board of Aldermen.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis aldermen gave their stamp of approval Friday for two major public investments in sports-related facilities.

Mayor Francis Slay signs legislation that will ask voters to approve a sales tax increase to fund a Major League Soccer stadium and a north-south MetroLink line. (Feb. 3, 2017)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis voters officially will get a say on whether to spend public money on a professional soccer stadium and expanding MetroLink.

Because aldermen missed a January deadline to put the measures on the April ballot, they needed an assist from St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Michael Mullen on Thursday. Mullen issued a ruling that effectively placed the two items on the April ballot.

Alderman Terry Kennedy listens as colleagues continue to ask questions following a 19-7-1 vote to pass the stadium financing bill on Friday.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Alderman Terry Kennedy, known for his oratorical abilities, didn’t make intricate speeches or engage in tough questioning as his peers on the Ways and Means Committee repeatedly discussed proposed ballot issues to help fund a Major League Soccer stadium and fix up the Scottrade Center. 

But before aldermen sent a roughly $60 million plan laying out St. Louis’ financial responsibility for the proposed soccer stadium, the 18th Ward Democrat changed his approach, saying they had the wrong priorities and there needed to be “a paradigm shift.”

Mayor Francis Slay and Alderman Christine Ingrassia speak to reporters about two measures likely to appear on the April ballot.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Mayor Francis Slay has signed legislation that could lead to funding for both MetroLink expansion and a stadium for Major League Soccer.

One bill signed by the mayor on Friday asks voters to approve a half-cent sales tax increase, which is intended to partially fund a north-south MetroLink line, as well as neighborhood and workforce development initiatives. The second measure, also signed on Friday, asks voters if revenue from the resulting increase in the use tax should be directed to the new stadium just west of Union Station.

A representative from HOK shows renderings of a proposed soccer stadium. (Feb. 2, 2017)
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

An aldermanic committee backed a financial plan spelling out how St. Louis would help pay for a professional soccer stadium – if it comes to fruition.

The Board of Aldermen’s Ways and Means Committee approved the financial plan on Wednesday evening. Many of the details have already been publicly laid out: If two ballot initiatives are placed on a ballot by a judge and pass, about $50 million in a use tax increase could go toward the stadium. The city would also contribute up to $10 million from 50 percent of the sales tax revenues generated in the project site.

A rendering of the proposed St. Louis soccer stadium.
HOK

St. Louis is officially in the mix for a Major League Soccer franchise.

Whether professional soccer actually comes to the Gateway City is by no means a certainty.

A rendering of the proposed St. Louis soccer stadium.
HOK

It looks increasingly likely that St. Louis voters will see two tax-related measures on the April ballot.

In a rare Monday meeting, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen gave initial approval to a proposed half-cent increase in the sales tax. The second measure would direct the resulting increase in the use tax to a proposed Major League Soccer stadium near Union Station.

SC STL's Dave Peacock speaks at Thursday's Ways and Means Committee hearing.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

There are lots and lots of steps needed in order to make a proposed professional soccer stadium in St. Louis a reality. But in addition to passing two separate ballot initiatives and obtaining one of four Major League Soccer expansion slots, city aldermen added a new contingency: Getting the state involved in the project.

Alderman Scott Ogilvie provided a pivotal vote to move a soccer stadium ballot item out of an aldermanic committee.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Ballot items aimed at expanding MetroLink and building a professional soccer stadium passed out of a Board of Aldermen committee on Thursday. But the stadium measure required some downright harrowing procedural maneuvers to stay alive.

MetroLink train at station
File photo | Chris McDaniel | St. Louis Public Radio

The bid for public votes on a sales tax for economic development and on public funding for a proposed Major League Soccer stadium near Union Station faces a new hurdle to make the April ballot.

The Board of Aldermen had until Tuesday to send the measures to Mayor Francis Slay for his signature to meet a state-imposed deadline for the general election.  Because the board did not do so, it will take a court order for the measures to appear on the ballot.

A rendering of the proposed St. Louis soccer stadium.
Courtesy of HOK

Updated Jan. 20 at 9:00 a.m. with comments from SC STL — Supporters of a Major League Soccer stadium in downtown St. Louis walked into the city's Ways and Means committee on Thursday, cautiously optimistic that a proposal for public funding was on track to go to the voters in April.

Six hours later, they walked out shell-shocked, as members of the committee refused to take a vote on the measure. The decision closes even further the window of opportunity available before a Jan. 24 deadline.

A rendering of the proposed St. Louis soccer stadium.
HOK

Updated at 9:30 p.m. with additional comments from SC STL. —They say nothing is ever truly dead in politics, and the proposed public funding for a professional soccer stadium near Union Station is proving that adage.

Just last week, Alderman Christine Ingrassia, D-6th Ward, announced that she would not ask the Board of Aldermen to consider her bill directing extra use tax revenue to the stadium. The use tax will go up automatically if voters approve a separate measure boosting the city's sales tax by a half percent.

But on Wednesday morning, the stadium funding bill showed up on the agenda of the Ways and Means committee.

A rendering of the proposed St. Louis soccer stadium.
Courtesy of HOK

Public financing for a soccer stadium near Union Station in downtown St. Louis is unlikely to appear on the April ballot.

Alderman Christine Ingrassia, D-6th Ward, confirmed Tuesday that she will not move forward legislation that would have asked voters to chip in $80 million in tax revenue for the stadium. The money would have come from an increase in the use tax that would be triggered by a separate measure.

Scottrade secured the naming-rights for the home of the National Hockey League's St. Louis Blues in 2006.
.bobby | Flickr

On Friday’s "Behind the Headlines" on St. Louis on the Air, we discussed the top stories of the week with those who brought a little more in-depth knowledge to them.

On this week’s program, we discussed:

The Monsanto-Bayer acquisition with Robb Fraley, Monsanto’s Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer

Gov.-elect Eric Greitens' opposition to publicly funding a St. Louis soccer stadium may be placing the city's Major League Soccer bid in jeopardy.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

When those who are working to bring Major League Soccer to St. Louis rolled out their stadium proposal, it seemed as though everything was in its right place.

The ownership group known as SC STL included people with experience with top-flight sports franchises. Many of the region’s top leaders were on board with the proposal. And in stark contrast to the failed bid to keep the St. Louis Rams, this group promised a public vote before any taxpayer funds were expended in St. Louis.

What soccer stadium proponents apparently didn’t foresee was what Gov.-elect Eric Greitens had to say.

Eric and Sheena Greitens hold their sons, Joshua and Jacob, while speaking to reporters after casting their ballots the St. Louis Public Library in the Central West End on Election Day 2016.
File photo by Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 3:30 p.m. Jan. 2, with renewed opposition from Gov.-elect Greitens - If those who want state help to build a new Major League Soccer stadium in St. Louis had hoped for softening from the incoming governor, no change is apparent. At an event to announce a new public safety director, Gov.-elect Eric Greitens said he has "completely ruled out state funding for stadiums.

He repeated an earlier description the idea: "I do not support welfare for millionaires. I look forward to meeting with the leaders of the MLS project to see if there's a way for them to bring private sector funding to bring a soccer team to the state of Missouri."

The 1972 St. Louis Stars played in the North American Soccer League championship, losing to New York.
Jan Reinertsen | nasljerseys.com|

The effort by backers of a potential Major League Soccer expansion franchise for St. Louis has some fans reflecting on the history of the sport in the region. That includes memories of a top-level professional team in late 1960s through the mid-1970s called the St. Louis Stars.

Aldermen President Lewis Reed
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Public funding for a proposed Major League Soccer stadium near Union Station is already facing opposition from Gov.-elect Eric Greitens. And St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed isn't making things easier for supporters at the local level.

The proposed office building would be on the west end of Ballpark Village, across the street from Busch Stadium.
St. Louis Cardinals

Updated Dec. 19 with Greitens opposition to public stadium funding - The St. Louis Board of Aldermen considered millions of dollars in economic development incentives Friday, sending some to Mayor Francis Slay while setting others up for approval in the New Year.

At a meeting that stretched over three hours, aldermen gave final approval to $56 million in incentives for the second phase of Ballpark Village and to an agreement with Saint Louis University that gives the school control over the development around its planned new hospital.

MetroLink trains make about 300 trips across the Eads Bridge each day.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Separate initiatives designed to be on the city's April ballot could fund a host of projects, including MetroLink expansion and a professional soccer stadium.

Two St. Louis Board of Aldermen bills were introduced on Wednesday. The first would have voters decide on a one-half cent sales tax increase. The proceeds, estimated at more than $20 million annually, would go toward things such as a North-South MetroLink line, infrastructure improvements and security cameras:

St. Louis Alderman Scott Ogilvie speaks in favor of his bill exempting sheltered workshops from the city's minimum wage law.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Before voting against an incentive package for expanding Ballpark Village, St. Louis Alderman Scott Ogilvie delivered one of the more unusual opposition speeches in recent memory.

In an address that could only be described as dripping with sarcasm, the 24th Ward Democrat claimed he was in support of the tax inducements for the development around Busch Stadium. After expressing his concern that aldermen had “taken our eye off the ball on the essential functions of local government,” Ogilvie said he was relieved that those aforementioned issues "must not be problems that the city faces.”

Courtesy of HOK

The Missouri Development Finance Board is considering whether to award $40 million dollars in tax credits to St. Louis for a potential Major League Soccer stadium.

Otis Williams from the St. Louis development board made the request official Thursday. If approved, the incentives would be spread out over two years.

A rendering of the proposed St. Louis soccer stadium.
HOK

Updated on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 3 p.m. to include new offer from Foundry St. Louis -

A decision on an offer to cover a funding gap for a proposed soccer stadium in St. Louis could rest with the top professional league in the U.S.

 

Two groups have been trying to secure a local MLS expansion franchise and one is suggesting a partnership that could eliminate the need for public money. Foundry St. Louis officials say they are willing to put $80 million into the $200 million project proposed by SC STL.

 

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay says it isn't up to the city to approve such a plan.

 

Don't use more than 330 px
The Foundry St. Louis

One of two groups that want to bring major league soccer to St. Louis will hold a public forum Tuesday night.

Foundry St. Louis is a group of mostly St. Louis residents attempting to secure an MLS Soccer franchise and stadium.

The group is offering people the chance to give their input on initial plans for a stadium that could possibly be built near the Saint Louis University campus in the city of St. Louis.

Foundry St. Louis President Nicholas Mahrt says St. Louis deserves an MLS team because of the area’s history with the sport.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

American soccer defender Lori Chalupny is a 2015 World Cup champion and 2008 Olympic gold medalist who also got her start right here in St. Louis. A few months ago, Chalupny announced her official retirement from the sport…but not completely.

Major League Soccer has begun searching for a stadium site in St. Louis. With that news, “St. Louis on the Air” decided to look back at the history of the sport in St. Louis.
faungg | Flickr | http://bit.ly/1TJxpeQ

Major League Soccer has begun searching for a stadium site in St. Louis. With that news, “St. Louis on the Air” decided to look back at the history of the sport in St. Louis.

Sam Sextro lights candles across the street from the Edward Jones Dome while mourning the city's loss of the Rams. Sextro and a friend, who ran a St. Louis University High Rams fan club, met outside the stadium Wednesday for a "final tailgate."
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

This commentary was originally posted on St. Louis Public Radio reporter Maria Altman’s Facebook page on January 14, 2016. It was recorded for “St. Louis on the Air” on January 19, 2016. Listen to the radio commentary here:

Some thought on the Rams leaving for L.A.:

MLS Commissioner Don Garber meets with reporters in St. Louis. Garber toured a potential stadium site near the city's north riverfront.
File photo by Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The commissioner of Major League Soccer was in St. Louis on Tuesday to visit the site of a potential stadium on the city’s riverfront.

But while expressing optimism that St. Louis could support a professional soccer team, the chief of the country’s most popular league emphasized it’s way too early to talk about when an expansion would happen.

Kevin Rejent
Provided by Mr. Rejent

After the announcement last week of a plan to build a stadium on the Mississippi riverfront, pundits and politicians were quick to react with assorted pros and cons.

Likewise, St. Louis Public Radio followers were eager to share, through the Public Insight Network, just what the plan — introduced by a team appointed by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon — means to them.

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