St. Louis Board of Alderman approves stadium tax plan to boost MLS efforts

St. Louis’ proposed 22,000-seat stadium cleared a major hurdle en route to becoming a reality.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved a tax incentive package Friday to build a downtown soccer stadium, a significant step in the city’s effort to lure a professional franchise.

Aldermen approved the measure 26-2. State tax credits also are being sought.

The revitalized effort to attract a Major League Soccer franchise was announced in October. The ownership group includes World Wide Technology CEO Jim Kavanaugh and the Taylor family, owners of the rental car company Enterprise Holdings.

The owners will cover most of the stadium cost. Aldermen approved free use of the site, a 50 percent break on ticket taxes and a 3 percent sales tax on items sold at the stadium.

The MLS plans to award two additional franchises but hasn’t said when.

Carolyn Kindle Betz, granddaughter of Enterprise founder Jack Taylor and the company’s senior vice president, said the aldermanic resolution “brings us one step closer to our goal and helps demonstrate that America’s original soccer capital, St. Louis, is at the top of the table for an MLS expansion team.”

A financial impact report this week lauded the value of the stadium to the city, saying it would generate about $41 million in tax dollars over 30 years.

Passage of the tax plan is a big hurdle in St. Louis’ effort to once again be a three-sport city for the first time since the NFL’s Rams left for Los Angeles in January 2016.

St. Louis was a strong contender for an MLS expansion team last year, but voters in April 2017 turned down a ballot measure that would have used tax money to help fund a 22,000-seat stadium.

The new ownership group’s plan sought far more modest tax incentives that required no public vote.

The 20,000-seat stadium is expected to cost around $250 million. Plans call for the city’s Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority to own the stadium and lease it to the MLS team.

The franchise would be majority-owned by women, a rarity in professional sports.

Enterprise Holdings, which operates Enterprise Rent-A-Car along with National and Alamo car rental companies, also has naming rights to the arena where the NHL’s Blues play. The Taylor family and Enterprise have donated hundreds of millions of dollars over the years to cultural and charitable institutions in St. Louis.

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