The St. Louis Blues are in the midst of a very impractical battle with the city leaders over stadium improvement funding. That could derail important plans the team has submitted to the league office.
The St. Louis Blues officially submitted a proposal to host either the 2020 or 2021 NHL All-Star Games. While the city would benefit greatly, there are a lot of obstacles to overcome.
The Blues have not hosted an All-Star game since 1988. Prior to that, the only other game the city was awarded was back in 1970. Clearly, that means the Blues have not had an All-Star Game in the Scottrade Center.
There are many possibilities for that fact. Maybe the team did not apply for it. We are all accustomed to today’s 24/7 news cycle where you know everything at all times. Even back in the early 2000’s that was not the case, so the for all we know the Blues might have simply not applied under previous ownership.
The team might have applied and been denied. This would definitely play into fan fears that no league, outside of MLB, values our city. We have had reason to believe that in the past, so perhaps the NHL just had no interest in a St. Louis All-Star Game in the past.
Perhaps the NHL was simply playing to its own ideas. The league has a vested interest in making hockey work in a lot of non-traditional markets. So, we’ve seen mid-winter classics in Nashville, Columbus and Carolina.
The league knows that, while St. Louis is not a huge market, the Blues are a deep seeded part of the city. Giving us an All-Star Game will not change or aid any cause.
So, there are lots of reasons why it might not have happened in the past. Now, there might be only one reason it might not happen in the future.
The team ownership is committed to bringing these sorts of events to town. They showed that by bringing and staging a top notch Winter Classic at Busch Stadium.
Now, they want to show the league and its top stars what an event they can put on by hosting an All-Star Game. The obstacle, sadly, is the city itself.
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Work had already begun, so phase one is in the books. Fans can already see new ice and the new scoreboard as well as concourse improvements.
The second two phases are now pending. The unfortunate thing is, if the renovations are not completed, the league will likely look elsewhere.
“The initiative really is tied to moving the building forward,” said Chris Zimmerman, Blues president and CEO of business operations to the Post-Dispatch. “Quite often for new buildings and newly renovated buildings, one of the rewards is that the league likes to recognize that work and give those markets the opportunity to show their facility as well as their city.
“Obviously there are a number of milestones to get over including completing the approved city financing,” Zimmerman continued.
That last part has many fans, including myself worried. For whatever reason, the city we live in and want to see thrive, continues to shoot itself in the foot.
Regardless of your politics and ideas of where money is best spent, the city ruined a good opportunity to create jobs and put itself in a good light by not voting for an MLS stadium. The city also spent millions of dollars in a vain effort to retain the NFL when, in hindsight, it was never a possibility.
Is St. Louis going to do it again? Will they ruin the chance for the Blues to host All-Star Games or Scottrade to host nationally recognized events with their petty squabbles? Right now, it does not look good.
In reality, this is probably some dumb effort by politicians to get their pockets greased. Some deal will likely be worked out and renovations will continue next summer, when the hockey season is done.
The idea that the Blues will be denied such a high-profile event because city leaders cannot get on the same page is infuriating though. The team is making positive strides and getting noticed by the NHL and it could all be dashed like a toddler kicking their blocks across the floor.
“Every time the league works with us, including us being involved in Hockeyville game, those are positive steps,” Zimmerman told the Post. “Those are continued opportunities for us to both display the attraction of our team … and how we support the league’s marketing effort. Those are all intangibles that are important.”
Who knows what the All-Star Game will look like by 2020 or 2021. Right now it consists of each division having a 3v3 tournament. Maybe more changes would come before then.
Changes need to come to the city and the fools holding up the renovations though. Sports should not be more important than infrastructure or aid-programs, but if we could trust politicians to actually spend money on those things, this would not even be an issue.
Get this stuff done. Hosting an event like this would bring in tourism and give St. Louis another chance to show it is not a dead town. It cannot be wasted like the others in recent times.