The St. Louis Blues find themselves in another predicament this summer. This time, it has nothing to do with rosters or management. It has to do with the city itself.
The St. Louis Blues never seem to have anything come easy to them. Whether it is player acquisitions, contract dealings, roster management or anything, there always seems to be something that throws a wrench in the works.
Such is the case with the Scottrade Center renovations. Instead of just having things go smoothly, the city has to drop the hammer on its toe as it always seems to do these days.
Those that know me personally know that I rarely speak about political things outside my own family. It has simply become too divisive a topic where people want to argue their own side and any other idea is just wrong.
However, with city politics where it regards stadiums/arenas, I am simply tired of St. Louis falling flat on its face. There is no pretending that this is not a hot button issue, but it is a situation where reality needs to be taken into account instead of pretending there are some lofty ideals being adhered to.
The crux of the issue is that the city’s comptroller, Darlene Greene, has not signed and says she will not sign the financial agreement that was already agreed upon to fund the upgrades to the arena. On top of that, according to the Post-Dispatch, Alderwoman Cara Spencer, former state House Rep. Jeanette Oxford and former city counselor James Wilson have filed a lawsuit claiming the ordinance is unenforceable under Missouri’s Constitution.
I’m not going to sit here and pretend to know all the legalities of city ordinances, but this reeks of political grandstanding. It has become the popular thing to do to oppose any spending simply because it has become popular among voters that the government is not funding anything they want.
Again, that idea is not completely wrong. The budgeting of most governments is laughable with all the things tacked on to any bill.
However, when it comes to sports, we have reached a point where people need to decide whether you want a team or not. You have to decide whether you want the team to be successful and bring extra events or not.
The world is not full of Jerry Joneses. Most owners, whether they can afford it or not, are not going to build their teams lavish palaces. That ended the moment any voting constituency elected to fund a stadium entirely on their own.
You can’t put the jack back in the box now. It is understandable to want owners to fund at least part. Fans are paying enough for tickets and jerseys to be taxed even further to fund arenas.
Additionally, I’m not all for new buildings at the rate that owners want them. It used to be that a stadium could last 50 years or so. Now, anything over 10 years old is apparently ancient.
That said, if you want to have a franchise these days, you have to be willing to keep things updated. That is what the Blues were looking for.
They were not seeking a new arena as so many others have done. The Blues were more than willing to stay in the Scottrade Center. They just wanted the facilities to be updated.
It would benefit more than just the Blues too. The NCAA has basically told St. Louis that it will likely not be considered to host more events without updated facilities.
That means no Regional Finals for basketball, no wrestling or hockey championships. Beyond just putting butts in seats, that is potential revenue taken away from bars and restaurants around the city.
People can joke about being glad the NFL is gone, but its absence put stadium workers out of jobs and denied those same bars and restaurants of money they had begun to depend on.
The city cannot live solely on the Cardinals for all time. As much as we love St. Louis, the city is becoming somewhat of a joke.
People around the area like to poke fun at Kansas City, but it is a city that is interested in growing. Again, I don’t know all the ins and outs of their workings, but they attempt to put their best foot forward.
When their MLS team was in danger of leaving town, new owners stepped up to rebuild the team and suburbs in eastern Kansas came to the forefront to offer incentives/discounts to build a stadium. With the stadium and Kansas Speedway in the area, an entire entertainment and shopping district sprang up.
Opponents of such a thing likely will say it doesn’t benefit Kansas City proper. That’s true, but part of that is because the Missouri side was short sighted as St. Louis is being now.
We already lost out on an MLS team due to people not wanting to fund a stadium. Now the politicians are trying to renege on funding that was already promised to the Scottrade renovations.
The idea, according to Mike Faulk’s article, is that public funding should not be spent on private ventures. In a perfect world, that is true.
In a perfect world, sports would not be so important. With that same utopia, we would spend our money on police, fire, ambulances/hospitals and building infrastructure like roads and bridges. We would spend it on faster public transit.
That is, unfortunately, not the world we live in. The reality is that even if these people win their lawsuit (which also used public money to be litigated) the money promised to the renovations is not likely to go where it is needed.
If we were actually interested in funding those things, more of a fight would be put up to get the money where it is needed than every few years when sports wants to dip into the pie. Politicians always have a way to steer it away, so why not at least benefit something we actually use?
Again, my argument is not to bash those that are completely against public funding for stadiums. On the surface, I would agree.
However, owners simply are not going to build things with their own money when they know someone else will pay for it somewhere. Additionally, St. Louis seems more interested in arguing about these things and continues to fall behind their neighbors.
The city now has only two major teams. Chicago has six franchises. Even Kansas City has three.
The Blues are not going anywhere, but the city just seems to have no interest in keeping up. I think the renovations will continue to be made, but this lawsuit is another blemish.
The funding was agreed upon and it just seems like a waste of time. Every delay is costing the city reputation and revenue from future events that won’t come into an old building.
Again, I urge people to read the article linked above and make up their own minds. As a proponent of the MLS stadium though, this news reopens old wounds even if neither instance is directly linked.