Missouri Governor-Elect Says Public Funding For St. Louis MLS Stadium Is "Welfare For Millionaires"
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The MLS recently announced the pricing for the next round of teams to enter the league. With plans to add four more teams in order to reach 28, cities across the US are racing for selection. Long considered a candidate for expansion, St. Louis fans will be frustrated to see comments from the new governor-elect that could push their city down the bid list.
Due to the competition across America, to get into the MLS right now you need several things in order. You need a hefty entrance fee of $150-200 million, based on when an agreement is made. Owners who can financial support the team now and in the future. But most importantly, concrete plans, funding and money, for a soccer specific stadium.
Several cities and groups are stuck in limbo simply based on the stadium requirements. David Beckham and his Miami bid have been in purgatory for years now, struggling to find an agreement with the city. So while St. Louis is considered by some as the birthplace of US soccer, these days there isn’t really any room for a misstep.
The SC STL group that is trying to build a new stadium and bring a team to the city put forward a plan that required $200 million. The downtown stadium would need $40 in approved tax credits, as well as voters signing off on $80 million of public funding. Risking 60 percent of the funding from public sources will not look favorable to MLS, while other new bids pop up backed by private financing (i.e. Raleigh, a.k.a. North Carolina FC).
Eric Grietens, Missouri Governor-elect, is clearly not a supporter of either measure, as he made clear in a statement this week.
"I'm opposed to spending taxpayer money to build a soccer stadium in St. Louis. This project is nothing more than welfare for millionaires. Right now, because of reckless spending by career politicians, we can't even afford the core functions of government, let alone spend millions on soccer stadiums. This back-room wheeling and dealing is exactly what frustrates Missourians. This type of politics as usual is coming to an end."
The move isn’t surprising, and a positive vote for the MLS bidders is unlikely given recent history. After years of residency, the St. Louis Rams of the NFL left the city and returned to Los Angeles. The city failed to bend over backwards and fund a new stadium for the Rams and saw a main attraction leave for a brighter location.
Without support from the government or the population, the SC STL group will have to go back to the drawing board to find investors to cover a potential $120 million loss.