Missouri's Governor-Elect Is That Rare Politician Against Publicly Funded Stadiums

Rich businesspeople want over $120 million in public funds and tax credits to build a soccer stadium for a team that does not yet exist.


The Show-Me Public Money State
Geoffrey Gallaway/Flickr

Missouri Governor-elect Eric Greitens (R) took to his Facebook page yesterday to vocally oppose public financing for a proposed Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion team's stadium in St. Louis.

Current Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D) has come out in support of public funds being used to help convince MLS to award a team to St. Louis, just as he supported using public funds to build a new stadium for the National Football League's (NFL) Rams, who bolted for Los Angeles last year before their previous publicly-funded stadium was even close to being paid off.

But Greitens is having none of it, writing on Facebook:

This project is nothing more than welfare for millionaires. Right now, because of reckless spending by career politicians, we can't even afford the core functions of government, let alone spend millions on soccer stadiums. This type of back-room wheeling and dealing is exactly what frustrates Missourians. It's politics as usual, and it ends now.

The very rich business-people who comprise the ownership group SC STL, who claim to need $405 million to start up a St. Louis franchise, say they are willing to invest $280 million, which would include MLS' $200 million franchise fee. On top of their investment into the business they would profit off of, SC STL wants St. Louis taxpayers to kick in about $80 million and the state of Missouri to offer $40 million in tax credits.

But hang on, says MLS Commissioner Don Garber, the MLS franchise fee is only $150 million!

The Riverfront Times reports:

…if St. Louis makes the cut to join the league — a decision expected later in 2017 — don't expect SC STL to use that seemingly "extra" $50 million to reduce the burden on city taxpayers. When SC STL vice chairman Jim Kavanaugh was asked if the lower franchise fee would decrease the ownership group's request for $120 million in city and state money, he responded, "No, it does not."

"It's still quite a significant franchise fee," Kavanaugh said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Kavanaugh also pointed out that SC STL is already on the hook for construction cost overruns and maintenance for 30 years.

The Missouri Development Finance Board is scheduled to vote on the state tax credits today, and the St. Louis Board of Aldermen is still debating on whether to add to an April ballot the proposal to use taxpayer funds to subsidize a soccer stadium for a team that does not yet exist.

MLS Commissioner Garber has called the possible vote a "referendum" on whether or not the community is worthy of a pro soccer team. But using public funds to lure an expansion team is a gamble that can go disastrously wrong. Just ask Quebec City, which lost big on its bet to try to bring a National Hockey League (NHL) team back to Francophone Canada.

The parties seeking taxpayer investment in this private enterprise are making the usual promises of "hundreds of millions added to the local and state economy through new jobs and business," but the evidence that sports arenas add anything more than temporary construction and part-time concession jobs is forever lacking.

Read more Reason coverage of publicly financed stadium debacles here and watch Reason TV's doc on the folly of publicly-funded stadiums below:

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  1. Missouri Governor-elect Eric Greitens (R) took to his Facebook page yesterday to vocally oppose public financing for a proposed Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion team’s stadium in St. Louis.

    Did he do it with a George Takei meme?

    1. Sue Louis?

      1. That’s as plausible as anything I can thing of.

  2. Why don’t they use the empty football stadium for the new soccer team?

    1. That conversion to metric would give them fits!

      1. Soccer is measured in yards.

        1. Really? The only soccer I ever watch is the Italian matches my barber has on in his shop.

          1. I have seen some metric conversions done for the continent but the Laws of the Game specify the native measurements of England. The players must stand 10 yards back from a free kick, the field must be between 100 and 120 yards long, etc.

    2. What will they do with the other 40000 seats?

    3. Insufficient opportunities for graft.

      1. It’s soccer – they’d figure out the graft, somehow. It’s their core strength. Is there an institution more blatantly corrupt than FIFA? I think they’ve got the Olympics beat.

        1. Rio might have a different opinion


          1. They spent billions on building stadiums for the 2014 World Cup – the Olympics was just a bad idea on top of a bad idea/

    4. Too big and fake grass sucks for soccer.

      1. Correction: fake grass sucks donkey balls for soccer at that level.

        For those of us old people who still play, there are few grass fields that are consistently in good shape (though it is possible, and preferable to Field Turf), so turf will do nicely, so long as it’s not of the original Astro- variety.

  3. Sorry MLS, but you don’t have the pull to make something like this happen. Soccer is a distant 4th in the hearts and minds of Americans. The NFL can hold cities hostage, but not you, you pathetic Euro-sport.

    Though I suspect that with the recent explosion of gender-trans stuff going on, more and more people are going to be “getting into” soccer. Soccer is for fags, is what I’m saying.

    Forza Inter!!!

    1. Lots of MLS teams have gotten publicly financed stadiums though. They have the angle of it being a lot cheaper than the other sports teams. Of course that is also another reason the owners should pay.

      This St. Louis thing is extra ridiculous though, they want $120 mil in public funding alone. BBVA Compass only cost $95 mil total ($35 mil public) and its in downtown.

      1. I need to look into how much the Frisco stadium cost. I well remember dreading going to FC Dallas games when it was at the old Cotton Bowl.

      2. That is a great stadium. 10 blocks from the Astros and about 8 blocks from Ninfas on Navigation.

        1. And two blocks from 8th Wonder brewery, a great place to get drunk pre-game. It is apparently the most cost efficient SSS in MLS, which is insane to me considering how nice it is. I know land costs are higher in other places but surely St. Louis is not one of them.

    2. That is changing, my friend. MLS is expanding faster than any other sport in US. They have been adding about a team per year for the last five years. MLS is pulling more “end of their career” European stars than ever before, including David Beckham buying the Miami Expansion. Like it or not, MLS will soon be coming to a town near you.


      1. MLS is pulling more “end of their career” European stars than ever before

        (Much) better yet, they’re starting to attract mid-career talent (say, Giovinco) and are retaining or bringing back Americans who would otherwise be playing in Europe (Bradley, Altidore). It’s not just Europe’s retirement league any more.

        1. It hasn’t been a retirement league for a long time. I don’t get where that statement (“MLS is pulling more ‘end of their career’…stars”) came from.

          It’s been clear for a good long while that players treating like a retirement league (as China’s league is becoming, or the Qatar Stars League) will wash out in a hurry and probably be hated for all time.

    3. Well, that’s the thing…there’s nothing else.

      St. Louis is not getting another NFL team. We’re not getting an NBA team for whatever reason (haven’t even been rumors since the Hawks left).

      Soccer is literally the only thing resembling a major league sport that might come to St. Louis.

      Personally, I’m hoping the CFL will expand into the US. But that’s likely not going to happen.

    1. More Americans take pleasure in hating the Dallas Cowboys than soccer.

      1. This is true

        you can’t hate what you don’t really care or know anything about.

        1. Hate is much closer to love than it is to indifference.

          1. Whatever.

    2. is Ann Coulter’s hatred of soccer a sort of proof that its actually *awesome*, or one of those things she’s occasionally right about (by accident)?

    3. Adding this to the list of required descriptors (e.g. “crumbling” infrastructure, “shrinking” middle class).

      Soccer is perpetually “catching on”.

      1. In the words of the Men In Blazers: “Soccer. America’s Sport of the Future Since 1972”

        1. Those two guys are a national treasure.

      2. Soccer: the sport of socialists.

    4. Ah… the original internet troll.

  4. I like a lot of things about Greitens. A Rhodes Scholar and a Navy SEAL? There has to be a national run somewhere down the road for him.

    1. First jewish president?

  5. I Quit my office-job and now I am getting paid 99 USD hourly. How? I work over internet! My old work was making me miserable, so I was forced to try something different, 2 years after…I can say my life is changed-completely!

    Check it out what i do:===>

  6. The thing is most MLS stadiums being built now are completely privately funded. If St. Louis can’t get it done without public money then they don’t belong in the running, IMO.

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