A group of rich guys out in St. Louis are trying to buy into the bottom rung of MLS’s ponzi scheme-esque racket. And like most rich guys trying to get a pro sports team in this country, they already have their hands out asking taxpayers to pay for a significant chunk of the future stadium costs.
The funniest part about this process of bringing SC STL (which, judging by some other MLS teams names, probably stands for “Sportif Cloob Sahn-Lwee”) to life is how the ownership group—led by former Bain Capital exec Paul Edgerley and former Anheuser-Busch president Dave Peacock—is attempting to frame this as some sort of partnership between the rich guys who will be profiting from the team and the local citizens who will be footing a substantial part of the bill. Here’s how they put it in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article reporting on the group’s request from the state for $40 million in tax credits:
In a prepared statement attributed to Kavanaugh, the ownership group stressed private spending represents more than two-thirds of the estimated project cost, when including the team expansion fee.
“The vast majority of the SC STL plan is funded by private money, but the tax credit package is an important piece that will allow Missouri to compete with other markets seeking a new MLS team,” Kavanaugh said. “When completed, the private contributions to this project will be the third largest among current MLS teams and facilities. Cost overruns and the vast majority of maintenance will be paid for with private funds.”
And how do the costs of all this break down? According to the group’s application with the city, the entire “project” will cost $405 million. The ownership group is set to pay $280 million: $200 million would go to MLS for the predicted cost of the expansion fee, paying for their right to a slice of the league’s future expansion fees seeing as how that’s the league’s primary profit strategy; and $80 million more for stadium costs.
Yes, these guys really are counting the price of the team itself—the thing that they and no one else (well, no one besides the other MLS owners, thanks to the league’s weird single-entity status) will own and profit from—as part of the shared cost of bringing the team to St. Louis. “Hey, neighbor! I bought this brand new sports car, only I don’t have room in my garage to store it. Wanna go halfsies on building me an add-on to my garage? I paid about 100 grand for the car, so in the end I’ll be paying for most of everything. And how about this: I’ll even let you drive it sometime for only $100 per hour! Can’t beat that!” No wonder they feel so comfortable asking for another $125 million from their taxpaying “partners” to pay for so much of the stadium costs.
The SC STL group has already placed before the state’s board their proposal for $80 million in taxpayer money to help build the stadium in a plot of land currently owned by the Missouri Department of Transportation. That $80 million does not include the cost of buying the land, which is estimated to fetch something like $15 million, but hey, the proposal does state that the stadium would be owned by the city itself rather than the team’s owners. For some reason we still think these rich guys, and not the city, will rake in all the cash the stadium brings in, though.
On top of the $80 million from the city of St. Louis on direct stadium costs, the group is also asking for $40 million in tax credits from the state should the $80 million proposal get approved. The tax credits aren’t exactly real money, but functionally they will either save or earn the group a whole lot of money, depending on what they do with the credits. As the Post-Dispatch explains:
The city would provide the tax credits to the ownership group following the first $80 million in expenses on the project. They can be used by businesses in two ways, by either going toward a tax write-off or being sold to other investors such as banking institutions.
MLS commissioner Don Garber has already publicly supported this ownership group’s attempts to get into the league, and St. Louis’s mayor is also in the bag, meaning, as long as they get their money, their future MLS entrance is all but assured.
If the government board that oversees this stuff okays the proposal, the next step is for the proposal to get put before the voters. Then we’ll see just how willing the citizens of St. Louis are to partner up with these rich guys to swindle themselves out of their own money.