The St. Louis Blues just cannot catch a break with regards to their facilities. Whether it is their game-to-game arena or proposed practice facility, things are just not going smoothly.
For the most part, the St. Louis Blues have managed to avoid the political divisions that plague the area. There has been the occasional run-in, as with any city resident, but it has not been so much a problem until recently.
Now, the Blues are facing legal problems on several different fronts of the spectrum around the St. Louis area. So, it seems the entire area seems to have a vested interest in being as dumb as possible.
First, we already covered the issues the Blues are having getting the promised funding for their renovations of the Scottrade Center. The city owns the facility, but there are those within the city government that are trying to strongarm the already agreed upon financing.
The opponents are using a two-pronged approach. They are using the fact that the Scottrade Center is the only name listed under the Community Improvement District instead of city-backed land developers insinuates the Blues are actually in control. The other claim, according to a recent Post-Dispatch article, is that the debt the city would pick up is unconstitutional without voter approval.
All of that is bad enough. You could almost understand the meaning behind the arguments if it did not come off as political grandstanding as opposed to any true value of voter welfare.
However, as stated in our previous article, it seems like cutting off the nose to spite your face. The city benefits from events at the Scottrade, so not having renovations made means fewer events in the building.
The blame may shift, but is no less egregious regarding the team’s practice facility. Apparently, some genius decided it would be a wonderful idea to select a federally owned piece of land and try to force the issue by beginning construction before anything was approved.
Again, the Post-Dispatch did the leg work on this one and I encourage you to check out the full article. The crux of the issue is the area the proposed ice rink was/is to be built.
St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger pushed this thing through and it all sounded like a peach of an idea. A beautiful new facility to be shared by the Blues, a potential junior team, as well as local high schools and pee-wee teams.
The one issue with everything? The National Park Service requires any construction on federally protected land to prove that it will improve outdoor recreation.
If you’re wondering how an indoor sports facility will improve outdoor recreation, you are not the only one. “I struggle to understand how this will be a net benefit to public outdoor recreation,” wrote Emily Ferguson in an April 5 email to Roger Knowlton and Carol Edmondson, reported by the Post-Dispatch. The emails were obtained in an open records request to the DNR. “Overall, this facility sounds like a National Hockey League training facility with availability for college, high school, and finally, public use.”
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The main argument for it improving outdoor recreation would seem to hinge on portions of the facility being open air. Nobody has been foolish enough to go on record with that being the reasoning. It seems the only plausible explanation given the parameters set up.
The other bone-headed aspect to this story is the apparent maneuver to circumvent the approval of the parks service. Construction began with grading on the ground at the site of the proposed site before approval had even been sought.
The county is claiming it is simply for a stormwater project. I am in favor of this practice facility, but if you believe that then I have some land to sell you.
It seems as though someone thought it would be wise to just start on this and hope they could get enough done so everyone would just shrug and say it was already practically built. That is not how these issues work.
There are people that oppose these sorts of projects enough that they would bulldoze a newly erected building if they thought they had legal recourse.
Unfortunately, the St. Louis Blues are caught in the middle of all this. They are directly involved in the Scottrade issue and on the peripherals of the practice facility issue, but both of them heavily impact the team.
The Blues need an updated facility so the ownership can make more money and continue to fund the team. The team needs a new practice facility so they are not training in an all-but-abandoned shopping mall.
While the situation surrounding these things is not the norm, it boils down to the incompetency of the city and county to work together and get things done. Yes, the city has nothing to do with the practice rink. Still, the city and county seem to jump at every opportunity to be first over the other that the county messed this one up.
At this point, the practice rink might never get built because they did not do their due diligence. The ignorance of the people in charge of our area continues to astound. Perhaps it should be no surprise since they can’t get their ducks in a row regarding anything lately, sports specifically.