St. Louis’ bid for soccer team back in play after second vote – STLtoday.com
ST. LOUIS • Aldermanic Ways and Means Committee members, after rejecting the soccer stadium funding proposal Thursday, returned from a recess and a hasty huddle in the mayor’s office to pass a revised proposal that will advance to the full Board of Aldermen.
Aldermen Scott Ogilvie, 24th Ward, and Stephen Conway, 8th Ward, switched their votes. Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed added his vote to push the proposal to a 5-4 favorable majority, after it had failed 6-2 an hour earlier.
The proposal secured enough votes to pass committee after supporters agreed to abate just half of the city’s entertainment tax on ticket sales at the stadium and agreed to secure $5 million over 30 years from the tax-increment financing district overseen by NorthSide developer Paul McKee. The TIF district includes the stadium site.
The ticket tax is expected to pull in between $7.5 million and $12 million for the city’s general revenue fund over 30 years. Bill sponsor Christine Ingrassia, 6th Ward, said the additions have improved the stadium funding proposal from revenue neutral to a net gain for the city over the next 30 years.
The committee also voted 5-1 to send a half-cent sales tax increase for MetroLink expansion and other city services to the Board of Aldermen. That tax increase, which would also go to voters, would trigger the increase in the business use tax that would fund the city’s stadium contribution.
Both proposals could receive a final vote Feb. 3 from the Board of Aldermen. The city would have until Feb. 21 to get a circuit court judge to agree to put both masures on the April 4 ballot.
The city needs the courts to intervene because the deadline for approving ballot proposals was Jan. 24.
St. Louis’ bid for a Major League Soccer team suffered a potentially fatal blow at Thursday’s Aldermanic Ways and Means Committee, where a $60 million funding proposal for the April ballot was defeated 6-2.
At least one supporter of the proposal, Alderman Stephen Conway, 8th Ward, voted against the proposal. Conway said he did it to be on the prevailing side of the vote, which under committee rules allows him to bring it back for reconsideration.
Within minutes of the vote, however, the measure was brought up again for reconsideration.
Aldermen Joseph Vaccaro and Beth Murphy voted in favor of the proposal.
Voting against were Conway, Antonio French, Scott Ogilvie, Samuel Moore, Chris Carter and Terry Kennedy.
Members of the team ownership group SC STL did not respond when asked for comment as they left the meeting in the Kennedy Room at City Hall. They went directly into the Mayor’s Office from the meeting.
Additionally, aldermen again tabled a bill proposing $67.5 million in bonds for renovations to Scottrade Center, home of the St. Louis Blues.
Aldermen spent about an hour discussing the MLS proposal before taking the vote.
Afterward, Ogilvie, 24th Ward, said he would change his vote if supporters agree to levy the city’s entertainment tax on ticket sales at the new stadium, which could generate $14 million to $25 million over 30 years, and if money raised by a tax-increment financing district that includes the stadium site could also be diverted to paying for the stadium debt.
The existing TIF district, which currently benefits developer Paul McKee’s Northside development, includes the 24 acres west of Union Station where the stadium would be built.
The $60 million proposal for public financing came with two amendments Thursday submitted by sponsor Christine Ingrassia, 6th Ward. One guaranteed the city would not use general revenue to cover the debt if the proposed source, a business use tax, did not generate enough money to cover it.
The other amendment would require clarity from the state on its expenses related to the project for it to proceed. Both amendments were adopted before the bill was voted down.
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