St. Louis is one of 12 cities vying a spot in the next round of MLS expansion, which will see four new teams join the league over the next few years. Sacramento is virtually assured a spot, despite some wild ownership shenanigans, which means that the other cities up for a spot face stiffer competition than the odds suggest. Offering public money for a new stadium would be a good way to leap the pack in MLS’s eyes. St. Louis citizens were offered a chance to vote on funding a new MLS stadium and tonight, they rejected the proposal, with 52.8 percent of voters voting against a proposition that would have funded the stadium.
This is the latest in a string of failures for the rich guys who want to bring an MLS team to St. Louis. In January, St. Louis officials and Missouri’s new governor rejected forking over $80 million in city money to an investment group known as SC STL so that they could build an MLS stadium. Undeterred by the rejection and the strong anti-publicly funded stadiums stance from Gatling gun-toting governor Eric Greitens, SC STL pushed ahead and got the St. Louis Board of Aldermen to approve voting on stadium funding by lowering their ask to $60 million.
There were two propositions on the ballot tonight. Proposition 1 called for a half-cent increase to the city’s sales tax, while Proposition 2 allocated $60 million of that new money to the construction of a new stadium for the rich bozos of SC STL. As Chase Woodruff pointed out for Howler, the tax increases were hikes to the city’s tax rate, which means that the poorer 300,000 residents within the city limits would have shouldered the tax burden while the richer suburban bulk of the metro area’s 2.7 million people would have gotten to enjoy the new stadium without paying for it.
Many powerful people endorsed the plan, including Taylor Twellman and MLS commissioner Don Garber, who essentially promised an expansion spot if St. Louis passed Props 1 and 2. Soon-to-be-former mayor Francis Slay even wrote a breathless op-ed for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch where he called the proposition a “moral and economic imperative.” That’s a really lofty way to say “I want you to pay these assholes $60 million for a building.”
Thankfully, voters passed Proposition 1 while rejecting Proposition 2.
This means that St. Louis will have more money for a MetroLink expansion, as well as housing grants and other vital public services. Because Proposition 2 failed, none of that money will go to paying for a stadium for a group of Bain capital-associated rich guys who don’t live in St. Louis. While this doesn’t kill the possibility of MLS coming to St. Louis, it’s a pretty clear sign that St. Louis residents are not here for this bullshit.