MLS Expansion: Garber headed to St. Louis on Monday

With its strong soccer tradition, St. Louis is considered a hot candidate for an MLS expansion team, but its bid may depend on the outcome of an April 4 referendum.

City voters must approve a proposition -- two actually -- that will determine if public funding will be available for a 22,000-seat downtown stadium. MLS commissioner Don Garber will attend a rally in support of the stadium proposition on Monday at Ballpark Village.

SC STL's request from the city was reduced from $80 million to $60 million. In face of opposition from the Board of Aldermen, SC STL agreed to increase an entertainment tax on ticket sales by 2.5 percent, estimated to generate as much as an extra $12 million for the city.

There are two ballot propositions on the April 4 ballot -- a half-cent sales tax increase to fund MetroLink expansion and neighborhood programs and a corresponding increase in the city's business use tax to fund the soccer stadium. The MetroLink expansion proposition must also pass for the city to fund the soccer stadium.

Of the two, the soccer stadium faces a tougher road. In a January poll of Democratic voters conducted ahead of the March mayoral primary, they opposed the use of tax dollars for a soccer stadium by 61 percent to 22 percent. The fact St. Louis is a heavily Democratic city doesn't portend well.

Still, SC STL leaders point to the stadium project as a key part of downtown growth in St. Louis.

“Businesses want to locate where they want to live,” Terry Matlack told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last week. “We can be a big part of that momentum.”

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