MLS Expansion: Tuesday is key day for stadium projects

The good news for backers of an MLS expansion team in St. Louis seeking public funding of a soccer stadium is that the proposal to get a measure on the ballot for an April referendum isn't dead.

The bad news: a meeting ended on Thursday without getting a vote on the proposal for a reduced funding request, leaving it, as one alderman described it, “on life support.”

Stadium rendering by HOK.

The current proposal calls for the city of St. Louis to contribute $60 million toward the $155 million stadium project -- $50 million from bonds issued and backed by a half-cent sales tax increase and $10 million paid back with 50 percent of certain sales tax revenues generated by stadium events.

SC STL -- the St. Louis soccer group -- has until Tuesday to get the city's Ways and Means Committee to get a proposal on the April ballot.  Chairman Stephen Conway told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the proposal was “on life support" though there would be another meeting on Monday.

Some alderman are concerned that the city has other more pressing priorities than funding a soccer stadium. More generally, they want more time to review SC STL's financial agreement.

Another hurdle: new Missouri Governor Eric Greitens' opposition to state funding, which killed a separate funding proposal of $40 million from the state of Missouri. SC STL still needs Greitens' support for conveying the land owned by the state of Missouri west of Union Station.

MLS expansion bidders have until Jan. 31 to submit plans. MLS is expected to award two cities expansion teams in 2017. Assuming Miami is on board as the 24th team, those two teams would give MLS 26 teams. The final two teams for MLS's target of 28 teams will be awarded at a later date.

CHARLOTTE. A plan for a $175 million stadium will be presented to the public at a hearing by Mecklenburg County commissioners on Tuesday. Private investors would contribute $87.5 million, while the other half would come from Mecklenburg County and Charlotte.

There is support for a stadium at the site of the city's aging Memorial Stadium and also at the former Eastland Mall.

Speedway Motorsports owner Bruton Smith and his son, Marcus, have been working with the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County on the $150 million public-private project.

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