Several members of the St. Louis city board of aldermen are raising objections to board chair Lewis Reed’s proposal for the city to help build a soccer stadium for a potential new MLS franchise (viewable in its entirety here), specifically on the grounds that it would put the city on the hook for future upgrades. From Reed’s plan:
An exemption from fifty percent of the City amusement tax and the deposit of the proceeds of the remaining amusement tax revenue that is collected from the activities at the stadium into an escrow fund (the “Soccer Stadium Improvement / Demolition Fund”) annually by the City to support major future improvements to the stadium, and, if warranted, the demolition of the stadium.
So that “50% amusement tax break” is actually a 100% amusement tax break — or at least, half off the ticket tax and letting the team use the other half for its own future improvements, which is functionally the same thing. I previously guesstimated that eliminating the 5% ticket tax for a soccer team would cost the city about $450,000 a year, which would be worth maybe $7 million in present value; it’s not a huge amount, and could end up being worth less than the full exemption on property taxes that Reed wants to extend to the team, but it’s still not nothing. And the proposed solution by Alderman Christine Ingrassia — making the soccer team the owners of the stadium — would presumably eliminate the property-tax break, too.
According to Ingrassia, six to eight members of the 29-member board of aldermen have expressed concerns about the future upgrade slush fund, but she withdrew her resolution to put the stadium and its future costs in the team owners’ hands because (deep breath) she says Reed accused her of trying to sabotage the stadium plan, while Reed accused Ingrassia of being biased against one of the team’s prospective owners, the Taylor family of Enterprise Rent-a-Car fame, because she’s fighting with Enterprise over $3,000 in damages to a car she rented for a conference that she says she didn’t cause.
Anyway, the whole mess now goes to an aldermanic committee, where no doubt we will hear lots more about Ingrassia’s car rental bills. And maybe even something about exactly how much the ticket tax break and property tax break would be worth to the team owners — we can dream, can’t we?