St. Louis MLS owners to pay all $250m in stadium costs (except for tens of millions in tax breaks and free land, shh, don’t mention that)

If you want a strong candidate for the most misleading newspaper headline since, well, pretty much ever, I would nominate yesterday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch masterpiece “Downtown St. Louis soccer stadium would be paid for with cash by would-be team owners.” Here is how it begins:

The hopeful owners of a new Major League Soccer team in St. Louis are prepared to pay for a $250 million downtown stadium in cash, the leader of the ownership group said on Wednesday.

And here is its sixth paragraph:

The Kavanaugh-Taylor group is asking for tax-dollar help. The city of St. Louis has proposed giving the owners a 50 percent break on ticket taxes, a full tax exemption on stadium construction materials, a $30 million tax break from the state, a 3 percent sales tax on stadium goods, and the free use of land — just west of Union Station on Market Street — for the stadium.

That is not “paid for with cash by would-be team owners”! Unless all it means is they wouldn’t sell bonds or take out a bank loan, but would front the $250 million, getting repaid in part by all those tax breaks. Which would make the headline correct on a technicality, while still implying the exact opposite of the truth.

Anyway, the city-run Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority approved the $30 million state tax break and the sales tax break on construction materials yesterday, sending it to the Missouri Development Finance Board for final approval. (And yes, you are correct that neither of those bodies is made up of elected officials.) The city council could vote today on the ticket tax, the free land, and the stadium sales tax surcharge. Neither Post-Dispatch report attempted to determine a total value for all the tax breaks, because come on, man, journalism is hard enough in these troubled financial times without having to “provide numbers” and “write clear headlines” and all that.


7 comments on “St. Louis MLS owners to pay all $250m in stadium costs (except for tens of millions in tax breaks and free land, shh, don’t mention that)

  1. I bet you the NFL won’t give you a deal like that. So instead of taking on city wide debt to build it and raising taxes on the citizens they’re giving the building a tax break. Hmm sounds like good business.

    • I guess you could do neither and spend even less.

      Or, in other terms, is it more expensive to give someone a million dollars or forgive a debt of a million dollars?

  2. This article is joke, the stadium is $250 million the land which the city would acquire from the state would be paid through donations to cover cost and taxes spent in the stadium would be used to build a fund for future renovations… this deal is what progressives wanted from the previous deal. But it seems like you all just want to hold anything you didn’t come up with back.

  3. “the land which the city would acquire from the state would be paid through donations to cover cost”

    Care to provide a source for that? Every report I’ve seen has had the city providing the land for free, or at best a nominal rent.

    • Might be in reference to Board Bill 180 section 4b, not sure where the word donation comes from though
      https://goo.gl/nbZTJU

      • That just says that the team owners will reimburse the city for its purchase of land from the state. The city’s option on the state land doesn’t include a price — it’s just an option to negotiate a purchase — so we still have no idea if the team will pay market value or $1 or what:

        https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/second-site-this-one-near-downtown-st-louis-emerges-for/article_bed96aca-b2cb-5cd5-9612-a4a5fb5f3bc4.html

  4. Poor, declining city grasps at straws, hoping to get lucky but ends up poorer. Just like lottery ticket sales, except you actually do have a chance to win buying a lottery ticket.