BREAKING NEWS: WE’RE GETTING MLS!!!!!!
Ok, let’s hold our horses a little. However it is plastered all over the internet that Missouri house representative Keith English (Independent) has tabled a bill 2378 to increase city and county sales tax by 0.1% to be put in a fund for a potential soccer specific stadium.
The timing for me seemed a little suspect. It’s no coincidence that with the Rams heading west that people are scrambling to fill an emotional attachment to something, anything. I asked Rep English why now? why not three or five years ago?
“The timing isn’t to coincide with the Rams leaving really, it’s just how it played out. We’ve seen the league commissioner express an interest in coming here, especially after he made his visit last May. In addition other MLS owners have made it clear that they want St Louis to be an MLS city. However the timing is good. We’re trying to keep the conversation going.”
English continued, “All this is, is a bill for a mechanism for a public vote for funding. A lot of people were upset that the Rams new stadium did not allow a public vote. This bill will ensure the public have their say.”
The bill is very specific. It is contingent on a major league soccer franchise awarded to the city of St Louis (or associated metropolitan area) by December 2020 and contains a 30 year lease for any potential team. On first hand it looks fine, however it is quite gender specific. How does a woman, especially when the US Womens team are current World and Olympic Champions feel about their tax dollars going towards a mens team in a mens league? I simply asked could the wording which excluded co ownership of a top flight NWSL team be seen as discrimination?
“It’s a stark reality of the situation.” English replied honestly. “If an NWSL team coming here would generate as much if not more interest and revenue for the city as an MLS team that’s what we’d be calling for. I have to try and do what’s best for the city and I believe that it being contingent on MLS is the way to go.”
With other teams in the fray for the limited expansion places, it is good that the city is being seen to be doing something proactive, even if it shifts the burden of the decision from the legislature to the voters. However as English noted and repeated, this is primarily about ensuring there is a public vote prior to any funding with strict caveats attached.
When asked “Have you been to an Saint Louis FC game yet? Have you seen the atmosphere and the level of competition? Would you be our guest and check out a game?
“Anytime. I would thoroughly enjoy that and it is something I need to experience.”
A more in depth look at the proposed bill and all it entails is found at ArchCitySports written by Scott Criscione.