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St. Louis: ‘No’ to Soccer Stadium, not Soccer

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Fans watch Taylor Twellman, a St. Louis native and former U.S. men’s national team player-turned-ESPN commentator, speak at rally for voters to support constructing a soccer stadium. Photo: RYAN DELANEY | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

One week ago, St. Louis voters said “no” to help fund a soccer stadium for a private business in the city. An April vote usually doesn’t get the people out in high numbers, but this one did as more people voted than usual. About 60,000 people went to the polls.

The stadium would have seated 22,000 people and the funding would have coming from an existing business tax. The soccer group pledged to put up $95 million for the stadium and wanted the state of Missouri to give them 24 acres of unused land for the project. The question of why public money is needed for a private business is never explained just we need the money. Can the public use the facility for recreation? Not really. It’s built for private business.

Voters did not have a chance to say “no” in 2016 to build an NFL stadium for the St. Louis Rams ownership because Rams ownership didn’t want to stay in St. Louis with the Los Angeles market calling. Rams ownership decided the city’s 20-year old stadium was obsolete. The stadium vote was the first one since two cities decided on whether it was worth investing money into facilities last November.

Arlington, Texas voters approved a measure to extend the Dallas Cowboys football stadium local tax increase to fund a new facility for the Texas Rangers baseball team while the NFL’s San Diego Chargers organization struck out in an attempt to get local residents to put up about $1.1 billion to help fund a football stadium for the business. The team moved afterwards.

Politicians don’t want to put stadium or an arena proposal before the public because for the most part, it is a losing issue. The next MLS stadium vote is on May 2 in St. Petersburg, Fla. League officials hope that outcome will be different than the one in St. Louis.

By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.

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