The St. Louis Blues are not the first team in the country to run into government roadblocks. However, their recent dealings with the city highlight the problems the are has overall.
The St. Louis Blues have had to deal with city governments many times before. Ever since the building of the Kiel Center when the Blues allowed the city to have main ownership, they were setting themselves up for issues down the road.
However, for the most part, the Blues have enjoyed a relatively smooth relationship with the city. That was until recently, when the problems the area has overall, reared their head toward the Blues.
The problem going on, which was pointed out by Blues president Chris Zimmerman, is the area is too fractured. Each little municipality has its own government. The county has its own government and the city sees itself as its own entity as well.
In theory, that should be fine. In actuality, all it has done is create problems and zoning issues and a lack of cooperation.
The problems with the sports teams have been the easiest to see. Due to government interference, it seemed as though the Blues would not get funding for their arena renovations. The lack of cooperation between governments and a lack of proper information distributed to the public caused St. Louis to pass on the potential once in a lifetime opportunity to have a professional soccer team too.
The soccer one is particularly sensitive to myself. The ownership group that was going to bring the team to St. Louis – a team that was all but assured to be given to the area, pending a stadium – made sure that the area would not be on the hook for any money if the venture failed.
Many of those owners were involved with trying to keep the Rams in St. Louis. So, they knew that they could not put such pressure on the area that Stan Kroenke did.
The entire thing ended up being a mess. Fans voted with their anger, still raging against the Kroenke machine. Ownership and St. Louis government members did not inform the public well enough about the real financing deal for the stadium. County officials could have stepped in and helped, but instead shrugged and said we’ll help only if the city asks.
It could have really rejuvenated downtown. The Blues could have had a sports and entertainment district with a soccer stadium, arena and baseball stadium all within a mile of the other. Other cities have thriving districts just like that.
Of course, the city did not ask and the MLS dream went up in smoke. The people involved shrugged and went about their business, giving the impression of Nero laughing as Rome burned.
Almost immediately after, the Blues ran into their own issues. The members of the board of aldermen voted to fund the renovations to Scottrade Center.
Suddenly the comptroller said she would not sign the deal and one alderwoman, along with other plantiffs, sued to have the funding stopped. Yet more government waste as dollars hoped to be saved by not funding were then used on these ridiculous court cases.
The issue is not just with the city, but the entire area. The Blues intended to build a practice facility with rinks for the community, but Maryland Heights did not go through the proper channels to get things done right for the land that had been selected.
Metrolink has run into similar issues, sometimes needing to snake around because some municipalities do not want it.
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As Zimmerman said on KMOX, the area needs to consolidate. “Most of the places, and particularly most of the mid-sized cities we’re competing with the Midwest, have a unified structure which makes them more competitive.”
“We are simply fragmenting our resources and we’re making it harder and harder to tackle some of the bigger issues, forget about sports facilities, that we need to address here in St. Louis,” Zimmerman continued.
It’s funny that a guy that has not been in the area a full four years yet can already see the problems. Sadly, these are issues that existed long before and will probably last long after.
The issues are systemic in government, but just seem even worse here. The selfishness of office seems to always get in the way.
The city and county never want to work together because one or the other always seems to think they’ll be losing out. With regards to arenas and stadiums, the city doesn’t want help because they don’t want to give up any of the money they’d receive.
Heaven forbid you give up a little more of the pie as opposed to having no pie at all.
It’s not as though we can get rid of all the tiny governments for one large one. That is unrealistic and would likely have more corruption.
There needs to be an overarching umbrella control though. Much like the US government has authority over the states and states have authority over cities, there should be a central St. Louis authority that could make (or help) all these little municipalities work together.
These problems of fracturing are not only a St. Louis problem. Zimmerman pointed out that other cities are better at getting the things done since they work together. You don’t have one government saying we want all the rewards while another one is saying we won’t help since you guys are jerks.
The sad reality, as mentioned, is there is little hope this will change. Nobody in politics has any eye on the greater good. Most keep blinders on and can only see what’s in front of their face.
So, the area we live in will continue to diminish. Fortunately, there was still a little sanity as the Blues finally got their financing through the courts.
Maybe, just maybe, the city and surrounding area will learn from these issues with the lost MLS stadium, blundered ice rink facility and Scottrade Center issues. We can always hope.