A bill to fund renovations to the Scottrade Center is moving closer to passage, despite St. Louis city voters rejecting the use of public funds to build a new sporting venue in April.
Senate Bill 469, sponsored by State Sen. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, could provide up to $6 million in renovation funding for the aging sport/convention venue in St. Louis.
The issue of paying for renovations with public money could face more opposition in the House since voters in St. Louis city voted against funding a new Major League Soccer stadium earlier this month.
After clearing committees last week, Schatz’ bill was placed on the Senate informal calendar for passage and could be voted on Monday.
Although there are other legislators who represent St. Louis city, Schatz said he was approached to file the bill since his party is in the majority in the General Assembly, many of whom are against taxes going to projects like this.
Schatz said thus far, the Senate has been moving very slowly, and with major issues on labor and tort reform on the agenda, there is no way to predict what will happen with just four weeks remaining in this session.
With the recent loss of the St. Louis Rams and the former Edward Jones Dome now sitting empty as taxpayers foot the bill, and voters shooting down the prospect of another stadium being built using public funds, the future of the St. Louis Blues staying at Scottrade is now shaky as well.
The Scottrade Center originally opened in 1994, and according to city officials is in need of more than $26 million in renovations to stay competitive with other sports venues in neighboring cities.
Despite coming out completely against using public dollars for the soccer stadium, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens met earlier this year with those representing the Scottrade Center which is owned by the city of St. Louis.
Schatz said he was not in the meeting with Greitens, but was told he was somewhat receptive to the idea, otherwise Schatz would not have filed the legislation.
He added there are 12 other entities (in Missouri) that would be eligible for this funding as well and if these venues are not renovated, Missouri is going to start losing events to other cities.
When Scottrade opened 23 years ago, there were only four or five other facilities of its kind. Today there are about 20 competing for sporting and convention events.
The language of the bill can be somewhat misleading since it amends a previous state statute relating to land clearance projects.
The act would allow the state or a public body to appropriate funds for the purpose of aiding and cooperating in the planning, undertaking or carrying out of a land clearance project.
A public body would be authorized to act to develop, construct, reconstruct, rehabilitate, repair or improve any tourism infrastructure facilities, as defined in the act.
Such state appropriation shall not exceed $6 million per year for any one such agreement and shall be determined to produce a positive net fiscal impact for the state over the term of such agreement.