Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

MetroLink Yes, Soccer Stadium No, and a Win for St. Louis County Police

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

MetroLink Yes, Soccer Stadium No, and a Win for St. Louis County Police

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS * City voters rejected a stadium financing plan for a Major League Soccer team Tuesday, but a half-cent sales tax for MetroLink expansion was approved.

Proposition 1 will increase the city sales tax by half a cent on every dollar, raising about $20 million a year. About $12 million of that would go toward planning and engineering for an 8-mile north-south MetroLink expansion.

Proposition 2 would have raised about $4 million a year that would largely go toward construction of a 22,000-seat soccer stadium downtown.

Both propositions needed to pass in order to fund the stadium. The sales tax increase in Proposition 1 would generate a corresponding increase in the city's business use tax on out-of-town purchases, which would cover about $50 million of the city's $60 million stadium contribution.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber had said he was "confident" St. Louis would have gotten an expansion team in the league if the stadium won public financing. A new team could have taken the field by 2020 as the league expands from 24 to 28 teams. Two of the new clubs are to be announced later this year.

But the commissioner also said last week that if the stadium plan is defeated, St. Louis will not get a team. Members of the ownership group, SC STL, have said they don't have another stadium plan if voters reject the public funding option.

St. Louis is one of 12 regions where ownership groups are competing for an expansion franchise. The St. Louis ownership group had said it would pay about $95 million for the stadium, as well as any maintenance and operations costs for 30 years, plus a $150 million fee to the MLS for the expansion franchise.

The MetroLink expansion, which would not be completed until 2026 or later, would reach from Fairground Park in north St. Louis to Cherokee Street in south St. Louis.

City officials estimate Proposition 1 will raise $20 million annually. Any amount of new sales tax revenue over $12 million would go to programs aimed at neighborhood revitalization, workforce development, public safety and infrastructure.

The 8-mile route is seen as the first phase in a potential 31.5-mile city-county MetroLink expansion to the north and south, although St. …

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