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Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Sports Stadium Redux


Here we go again. Another plan to use taxpayer money to pay for a sports stadium in St. Louis.

Despite numerous studies over the years that show that investing public funds in these projects does not return a windfall profit to the city or create enough permanent jobs to justify them, authorities on both the local and state level are so desperate to attract a Major League Soccer team that they're willing to give away the store.

Mike Faulk of the Post-Dispatch says the team's ownership group wants Missouri to provide $40 million in tax credits. What will it get in return? An estimated $44.8 million in tax revenue -- but that's over the next 33 years! A return of 12% would look good on an annual basis, but as a total, doesn't even keep up with inflation over three decades. And then there's the land giveaway (the acreage next to Union Station that's now publicly owned) and the $80 million contribution from the city of St. Louis, which will have to be approved by a public referendum. Hopefully, voters will give that the thumbs-down.

I'm not saying any of this because I don't want a Major League Soccer team in my town. Frankly, I couldn't care less either way, since I'm never going to attend a game. It's fine that someone wants to start a new enterprise downtown. However, I'm being consistent in my opposition to using taxpayer dollars to underwrite projects that will put more cash into a business owner's pockets than into the municipal coffers. I said the same things about the new Busch Stadium and Ballpark Village and the doomed efforts to build a new stadium for the Rams.

Politicians must stop falling for these pitches and the economic blackmail that comes with it. When these ownership groups say, "If you don't give us what we want, we'll go somewhere else," we'd all be a lot better off if our leaders said "So long!"

Bottom line: build these behemoths with your own money, not ours.