CITY HALL – A plan to provide incentives for a new Major League Soccer stadium in St. Louis is now before the Board of Aldermen.
Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed introduced on Friday two bills setting up a plan to redevelop 34.7 acres between Union Station and about 22nd Street and between Interstate 64 and Olive Street. The plan would be one step in a more than $500 million project to build a 22,500-seat professional soccer stadium by March 2022, in time for that year’s Major League Soccer season.Reed was excited about the project when he talked to reporters after Friday’s meeting of the Board of Aldermen. He said the stadium would attract 300,000 people to the area on an annual basis, and generate about 1,600 construction jobs and 200 permanent jobs.
In the first year, the city would receive $1.65 million in revenue. Also in that first year, the team would have total benefits of $3.1 million in revenue from special taxing districts and in abatements (reductions) of construction materials sales tax and amusement tax.
“Major League Soccer can be huge for the city of St. Louis,” Reed said. “We know just by some of the matches that they’ve had that there’s a huge appetite for Major League Soccer in the city.”
Reed claimed that only people who attend the games would pay anything for the projects and that others would not be affected.
“If you go to the games, if you buy tickets, if you buy a beer or soda, a hot dog or french fries or anything, whatever you do or spend within the stadium, that is what pays for it,” Reed said.
The plan calls for 25 years of property tax abatement on the value of any improvements on the land. There also would be a sales tax exemption on construction materials used in the project.
Other incentives could include a transportation development district, a community improvement district and potentially a port improvement district, if land is added to the St. Louis Port Authority district to include the project area.
Each district would have a 1 percent sales tax. The developer would use the money raised to pay for new public infrastructure costs within the project area.
The plan would commit the city to cooperate with the team owners to identify other funding sources, including the state.
According to local media, the state won’t commit $30 million in tax credits for the project but would consider about $6 million.
The city promises to work with the team on such things as signs, street maintenance and the use of sidewalks, as it does with the Cardinals and the Blues.
The area would include 23.4 acres of Missouri Department of Transportation land now used as an exit and entrance to Interstate 64. The state acquired that property decades ago as part of a project to build a Route 755 from Interstate 70 on the north to Interstates 44 and 55 on the south. But the state built only part of Route 755 and abandoned it in the 1970s.
There also is 7.55 acres of local street right of way and various other property.
Besides the stadium, there would be team offices, practice fields, parking facilities and a number of improvements to utilities, sidewalks and streets. Aloe Plaza West would be renovated and stay as a city-owned park.
The bills would officially declare the area “blighted” and call for the condemnation of property at 2008-2012 Olive St.
The developer would be required to comply with St. Louis city nondiscrimination requirements for businesses owned by minorities and women, along with other requirements including paying prevailing wages.
The team would have to pay the city $15 million if it relocated within 10 years. However, that amount would go down each year the team stayed within St. Louis.
Market Street would be rebuilt between 21st and 22nd streets, and Clark Avenue would be reconnected between those two streets. Twenty-Second Street would be extended south to the I-64 Service Road. Also, the team owners would have to keep all facilities in good shape and work with the St. Louis Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority to locate potential areas for off-street parking for soccer fans and businesses in the western part of downtown.