Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced yesterday that he plans to sell $30 million of bonds to provide money for the city’s previously announced soccer stadium, and wait, what, Louisville announced public funding for a soccer stadium and I missed it? Well, look at that:
Mayor Greg Fischer announced Friday that the city wants to fork over $30 million to help local investors build a 10,000-seat stadium for the club in the Butchertown area…
“Soccer is a sport that is obviously attractive to everybody, but especially millennials and our international population as well,” Fischer said in his podcast Friday morning. “We want to compete for an MLS franchise at some point in time, and having a dedicated soccer stadium is required for that.”
The city money would go for land and infrastructure costs, not directly to construction (which will cost an estimated … actually, nobody seems to have estimated that yet, though previous estimates were in the $30-50 million range, and the overall development that would include the soccer stadium is projected at $200 million). And Louisville City FC, the USL team that will play there, will pay the city $14.5 million over 20 years in rent, which is a –6.5% return on investment.
There are oh so many questions here, as befits a plan that was announced via podcast:
- Who’s going to pay maintenance and operating costs and cost overruns on this thing?
- What does the Louisville Courier-Journal mean when it reports: “Leveraging the deal will involve the city applying for a mixed-use tax increment financing, or TIF district, with the state. If approved, Fischer’s office said the city will not commit any of its local property tax revenues to that TIF”? So it would just be redirected state tax money? Redirected from where, exactly? And seriously, nobody in Louisville has learned their lessons about the dangers of TIFs yet, despite the city pretty much being the poster child for the dangers of TIFs?
- When Fischer says he wants to “compete for an MLS franchise,” does he realize that Louisville is one of the few cities in America that hasn’t yet applied for an MLS expansion franchise? Or is he just figuring he’ll get to jump the line once he has a shiny new stadium (maybe) or that MLS will eventually hand out enough teams that everybody who wants one will get one (even more likely).
On the one hand, $30 million for a soccer stadium complex is chicken feed when you have states coughing up $750 million for NFL stadiums. On the other, $30 million in subsidies for a minor-league (for now) soccer stadium that may only cost $30 million to build in the first place is kind of significant. Hopefully there are some Louisville city council hearings to come so we can learn more about this thing, or at least some more podcast episodes.