St. Louis gambles on sports…again

Posted on 28 March 2017 by Ian Schrauth

gambling one again…

 

By: Sean E. Thomas
News Editor

 

On April 4 residents of the St. Louis City will vote on two ballot measures, both of which must pass if the city is ever going to realize its dream of becoming a Major League Soccer city.

The first measure is a proposed half-cent sales tax increase that would fund a north-south expansion of our current MetroLink route. The second measure is a vote as to whether the citizens of St. Louis City, and more importantly the business owners, are comfortable with an increase in the business use tax to help fund the downtown soccer stadium.

The catch: both measures must pass on April 4 if plans for the soccer stadium are to move forward, as the half-cent sales tax increase will trigger the corresponding business use tax increase that is needed.        

While many of my fellow St. Louisans are quick to point out this city’s love for soccer, often referring to St. Louis as one of the “biggest soccer cities in the country,” as all the reason needed to support the building of an MLS stadium, I disagree. There seems to be this belief that because St. Louis loves soccer, it will absolutely support an MLS team.statium

Must I remind you that St. Louis once loved football as well. You remember? The kind of football with end zones instead of goals, quarterbacks instead of strikers. Or have we decided that the Rams were never really ours and that they are finally back in Los Angeles where they belong?        

I’m sorry, I know the Rams thing is a low blow, but it serves a purpose. Will St. Louis only be a city that supports an MLS team if they are good? If that is the case, are the citizens of St. Louis ready to gamble $60 million in tax revenue from businesses in the city in hopes of a winning soccer team? I’m not. In a city that needs so much more than another jersey to wear as we run our Sunday errands, if we can generate an extra $60 million in tax revenue, I’m sure we can find much better uses for it than another giant building to kick a ball around.       

What about the extra money it will bring into the city as fans and businesses alike flood downtown to welcome the arrival of soccer? Let’s talk about that for a moment. With ticket prices likely to be high enough that a great many residents of the city proper will not be able to afford to attend games in the new stadium, I don’t think it should be city businesses and residents alone that will be facing higher taxes for the privilege of sport.

It could be argued the primary push for an MLS team in St. Louis is coming from residents of St. Louis County, whose children attend private schools where sports like soccer take center stage. I say let their businesses pay higher taxes to provide their leisure, let city taxes go to programs and funding that will improve the day-to-day lives of the city’s residents.

 

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