Committee approves soccer stadium plan

Committee approves soccer stadium plan

CITY HALL – A package of $34.5 million worth of incentives for a $532 million Major League Soccer stadium now has the approval of a Board of Aldermen committee.

The aldermanic Housing, Urban Development and Zoning Committee unanimously approved on Wednesday two redevelopment bills for 34.7 acres on either side of Market Street west of Union Station. It now goes back to the full board for votes on initial and final approval. 

Much of the $150 million for property acquisition would be used to buy about 23.4 acres of Missouri Department of Transportation property that has been used as an exit and entrance to Interstate 64. Construction is set at $242 million and other costs at $140 million. Completion of the 22,500-square-foot stadium is expected by March 2022, in time for that year’s Major League Soccer season.

A financial impact report for the project set the fiscal benefit for the city over 20 years at $20.5 million and to the St. Louis Public Schools at $6 million. 

“Major League Soccer to me is much more than just a game,” Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed told committee members. “If you attend the game, you help pay for the stadium.”

Those who don’t come don’t pay any taxes for it, Reed said.

“The fact that we’re not using general revenue, as President Reed pointed out, is very significant,” said Bill Kuehling, an attorney representing the ownershipship group, MLS4THELOU.

Julie Snow, the main architect for the project, said it was significant that this would be an urban stadium situated in an urban district.

“This is an incredible opportunity to locate a stadium in the middle of St. Louis,” Snow said.

The package includes some but not all of the incentives that were in a 2017 proposal.

The package calls for paying real estate tax on the land of $230,000 a year. There would be no real estate tax on the new construction for 25 years. The 2017 proposal called for the team to pay no real estate tax on land and improvements.

Fans would pay 1 percent sales taxes for the project for each of three special taxing districts: a Community Improvement District, a Transportation Development District and the St. Louis Port Authority. The boundaries of the port authority would expand  to include the stadium area. The 2017 plan included the dedicated stadium

All city sales tax, payroll, earnings and utility taxes would go to the city. The 2017 plan called for $4.2 million a year in new use taxes to go for the stadium. That approach stipulated that 50 percent of sales taxes and payroll, earnings and utility taxes collected at the site would be dedicated to the stadium.

Both approaches stipulated that no amusement taxes would be collected. 

The stadium is expected to attract 300,000 people to the area each year and generate about 1,600 construction jobs and 200 permanent jobs. 

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 officially declare the area “blighted” and call for the condemnation of property at 2008-2012 Olive St.  

Deputy Mayor Linda Martinez spoke of what she thought the team might bring.

“There was one day last year when there was a Cardinals game, and there was a Blues game at the Enterprise Center, and there was a concert at the Convention Center. All of them were downtown,” Martinez noted. A soccer team would add to the mix, she said.

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