Greitens gets it

January 2, 2017

The Publicly-Funded-Stadium idea1 just won’t die here in Mound City. The latest go-round is a group hoping to build a stadium for a Major League Soccer team.

The backstory here is that in 2015 the City of St. Louis and State of Missouri failed to commit to building a new stadium for Stan Kroenke. So Mr. Kroenke moved his Rams NFL team to Los Angeles. And I said Hallelujah!

Bear in mind that (a) Mr. Kroenke was estimated to be worth $US 8 billion by Forbes in 2016 and he owns four other professional sports franchises in addition to the NFL Rams. And (b) there’s a 20-year-old football stadium called the Edward Jones Dome that’s perfectly serviceable as far as I know.

Why it should have been necessary for the public to build Kroenke a new stadium is too many for me. And now, after the Rams’ departure, the City of St. Louis is stuck with the debt on the current stadium. Noice!

I can see why Kroenke wanted public funding, of course. The same reason the Soccer Guys do: minimizing risk in an investment is just good business sense. And if you can find some yokels to assume that risk for you, then so much the better. These sports franchise owners make lawyers look good by comparison, don’t they?

Today’s Roster: Jay Nixon is the current Governor of Missouri, Eric Greitens is the Governor-elect, and Francis Slay is the Mayor of St. Louis.

And it’s my emphasis in the articles below.

Gov.-elect Greitens calls public money for St. Louis soccer stadium ‘welfare for millionaires’
By Mike Faulk St. Louis Post-Dispatch Dec 20, 2016 (250)

ST. LOUIS • Missouri Gov.-elect Eric Greitens said he opposes public funding for a Major League Soccer stadium in downtown St. Louis, according to a statement released by his transition team Monday.

This project is nothing more than welfare for millionaires,” Greitens said. “Right now, because of reckless spending by career politicians, we can’t even afford the core functions of government, let alone spend millions on soccer stadiums.

“This back-room wheeling and dealing is exactly what frustrates Missourians.”

Greitens’ statement came one day before the state Development Finance Board vote was scheduled to vote on a request from the city of St. Louis for $40 million in tax credits to go toward the $200 million downtown stadium plan. Last week, legislation was introduced before the city’s Board of Aldermen that could ask city voters to approve up to $80 million for the stadium. […]

Wow… Go Team Greitens!

Here’s another Post-Dispatch column talking about Jay Nixon’s push for public funding for the MLS stadium.

Gov. Jay Nixon’s last stand: Does St. Louis want to be Major League, or not?
By Tony Messenger St. Louis Post-Dispatch Dec 25, 2016 (158)

It’s the fourth quarter and Gov. Jay Nixon is at the 2-yard line with 16½ seconds left on the clock. He needs three yards to get the football over the goal line, but this pigskin isn’t oblong, it’s round.

“We lost one kind of football,” Nixon said Friday in a meeting on the ninth floor of the Wainwright State Office Building in downtown St. Louis. “Let’s get the other kind.”

The governor was reprising his role as Stadium Cheerleader-in-Chief. That’s what I dubbed him last year when he pitched a failed plan to build a new football stadium on the north riverfront in St. Louis before the NFL allowed Rams owner Stan Kroenke to ditch the city for Los Angeles. Now Nixon is lining up behind an effort to bring Major League Soccer to the St. Louis area with a public-private partnership building a $200 million stadium just west of Union Station. […]

“The clock is ticking,” Nixon said Friday. He was talking about the soccer stadium but could have just as easily been referencing his political career. On his way out of the public arena, he seeks one last victory.

“This is that moment,” he said. “Does St. Louis want to be Major League or not?

All respect, Gov, but lining up the sheep to be sheared is only a “major league” status indicator for those doing the shearing – the team owners and the politicians getting their names in the news. The sheep won’t be feeling so “major league” about the shearing.

Luckily, a Post-Dispatch sports columnist makes that very point for me.

St. Louis doesn’t need MLS team to be ‘major league’ town
Jose de Jesus Ortiz St. Louis Post-Dispatch Dec 28, 2016 (56)

In case you needed it, the Winter Classic at Busch Stadium between the Blues and Blackhawks will expose the faulty logic that has been peddled recently by those folks claiming St. Louis needs a Major League Soccer franchise to be a major-league town.

You can debate the merits of doling out welfare for billionaire and millionaire sports franchise owners if you must. I would argue that the SC STL ownership group and MLS have pushed their proposal for public funding with faulty figures and must lower their request from taxpayers now that MLS has said the expansion fee will be $150 million instead of the $200 million estimate they outlined in their request.

We’ll have more time to question SC STL and MLS officials in the next three months. For now, though, there’s no denying that Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon doesn’t give St. Louis enough credit when he portrays the SC STL public funding debate as one in which citizens must decide if they want this town to be a major-league one.

“This is that moment,” Nixon told several of my Post-Dispatch colleagues Friday. “Does St. Louis want to be major league or not?”

With all due respect, Governor, such a statement deserves to be ruled as an E1 — error by the pitcher. With a thriving NHL franchise in the Blues and a perennial baseball power in the Cardinals, St. Louis has more than enough star power to rank as a major-league town. […]

Update 1/3/17:

Today’s Post-Dispatch reports.

Greitens: ‘I have completely ruled out state funding for stadiums’
By Mike Faulk St. Louis Post-Dispatch 14 hrs ago (122)

Major League Soccer investors trying to bring a team to St. Louis probably won’t get $40 million in tax credits or any state money, based on Gov.-elect Eric Greitens’ comments Monday.

“To be very clear, I have completely ruled out state funding for stadiums,” Greitens said Monday said taking questions from journalists in Dellwood.

Hours later, the St. Louis alderman sponsoring the ballot proposal for up to $80 million in city funding for a St. Louis MLS team called the proposal’s future doubtful.

“I was hoping to get to the point where this proposal made sense for St. Louis, but I’m feeling that less and less,” 6th Ward Alderman Christine Ingrassia said by phone.

And the mayor’s office said Monday that getting a stadium built would be difficult without the state. […]

1 Has there ever been a clearer example of Cargo Cult politics than publicly financed stadiums?

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