Before Passing Soccer Financing, Aldermen Pause To Remember Late Colleague
The St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved financing for the Major League Soccer stadium redevelopment plan on Friday.
The plan received overwhelming support, passing with a 22-1 vote. The bills were sponsored by 17 aldermen.
Supporters of the MLS team say the $500 million development will bring in millions to the city.
The lone “no” vote came from Alderwoman Sharon Tyus, D-1st Ward. She said the money will not be evenly distributed citywide.
“If [the stadium] was going to benefit everybody then north St. Louis wouldn’t look like that,” she said. “It benefits downtown. What it says is downtown is more important than other neighborhoods, and it’s not.”
The MLS4TheLou said in a statement that Friday’s vote was a significant milestone.
“We’re incredibly thankful for all the City Officials who have worked with us tirelessly over the last 15 months on a fair plan that combines a large private investment and site-specific user taxes with our ownership group assuming all future risk for this development by owning the stadium and land,” the statement said. “This is another exciting day for the fans, City and region as we get closer to our team taking the pitch for the 2022 MLS season.”
Board President Lewis Reed said the redevelopment plan is good for the city and school system. The St. Louis-based ownership group is splitting entertainment tax profits with the city, something Reed said no other major stadium does.
Reed also said the bill aldermen passed provides a backup plan in case the MLS team doesn’t work out, giving the city a developable asset.
“Most people don’t know, but that land when it’s developable is one of the most expensive pieces of ground in the city of St. Louis,” Reed said.
There are still hurdles to clear before the project can get underway. A major one is securing $30 million in tax credits from the state of Missouri.
Reed said he doesn’t expect Gov. Mike Parson to give the city tax credits before the November election.
“He’s facing some very stiff competition,” Reed said. “It is just not popular at all in the state of Missouri to give St. Louis $30 million.”
The ownership group said conversations about the tax credits were still ongoing. The Department of Economic Development, which oversees the program, said in a statement it looked forward to continued discussion with the ownership group and had not yet received a request for the credits since the beginning of 2020.
The city could make up for any shortfall in state tax credits by expanding its port district to include the stadium site. That would allow for an extra sales tax to be charged there. An effort to expand the district citywide last year stalled over concerns about the fact that the St. Louis Port Authority, which governs the district, has the power of eminent domain.
The MLS4TheLou still needs to negotiate with one remaining property owner. The group said it wants to avoid using eminent domain.
The city also needs to transfer a street from public to private ownership and set up a vending zone for the stadium.
The St. Louis MLS team is expected to take the field in the 2022 season.
Remembering Alderman Sam Moore
Friday’s meeting was the first since the death of Aldermen Sam Moore, D-4th Ward, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 71 following a long illness.
“Alderman Sam Moore was a legend, not only in the 4th Ward but across this city,” said Alderman Jeffrey Boyd, D-22nd Ward. “He was a man who was known for being very passionate about serving his community. He was unafraid to stand up for what was right. It was a pleasure and an honor to serve with him.”
Through tears, Alderwoman Tammika Hubbard, D-5th Ward, called Moore a warrior for uplifting black people.
“There’s always so much going on down here, and oftentimes we’re so beat up just trying to serve, trying to do the greater good,” she said. “And I just hope that we can move forward and do what’s in the best interest of those who elected us to lead. That’s what Sam stood for.”
Moore won his Democratic primary last March with 53% of the vote. A series of illnesses and injuries meant he missed quite a number of sessions, and it was difficult for him to get around when he was able to make it to City Hall, but that did not stop him from working for those who elected him.
“People can say what they want to say about alderpeople, but when you have a man that’s sick and can’t move, and he calls his colleagues and gives orders and says, 'This is what needs to be done,’ that’s someone who’s committed,” said Alderwoman Pam Boyd, D-27th Ward. “Everybody needs to take heed. It’s not about us. It’s about a city. And until we get past the pettiness, we will never build our city.”
“Sam fought for his neighborhood,” said Alderman Joe Vaccaro, D-23rd Ward. “He didn’t care whether the mayor, me, the president of the Board of Aldermen, the pope disagreed with him. It was about his neighborhood, and that’s what we should all do. He was the epitome of what I was taught — everyone’s man, nobody’s boy.”
Moore often used that phrase on his campaign literature.
There will be a public memorial for Moore at 4 p.m. Saturday, March 7, at the Williams Temple Church of God in Christ at Union Boulevard and Natural Bridge Avenue. His funeral is set for 6 p.m. March 8, also at Williams Temple COGIC.
Moore, a Vietnam War veteran, will be buried March 9 at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.
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