The House that Hull Built is probably going to be renovated soon. The arena, which opened in 1994 as the Keil Center (and then later on became the Savvis Center before the name we all know as DrinkScotch was adopted), hosts not just the Blues, but also Arch Madness, NCAA basketball events, concerts, and would like to one day help host the World Juniors.
22 years old is old enough to drink, but it's still fairly young in people years. Arena years, well, it's a lifetime.Look at the Georgia Dome (24 years old) or Turner Field (19 years old) - two perfectly good stadiums that are being either razed or converted into other things because the teams that play in them have deemed them "out of date" and that "renovations are too expensive" and "we need $300 million worth of taxpayer money to cause a massive traffic jam."
The Scottrade Center is a nice arena, in pretty good shape, It is, however, out of date and in need of renovation - especially to the ice cooling system and scoreboard/scoreboard operations. Those renovations are happening this summer and will be ready for pre-season hockey come September (though probably just the scoreboard operations, not a new scoreboard). The Blues will be paying $10 million out of their own pocket for these improvements. The rest of the place, though, needs some TLC too. Purple seats were cool in 1994. They are not cool now. The concourses are a bit tight. The team store is a little small and hard to navigate. It needs a fresh coat of paint.
Instead of a massive chunk of taxpayer funds, the city owned arena will be getting a huge chunk of taxpayer funds. Still cheaper than a new football stadium, the renovations to the Scottrade Center will be included with some renovations to the America's Center convention site (which will come with its own separate $120 million bill). Per the Post-Dispatch:
Plans are preliminary but include revamped seating areas and a larger team store for the St. Louis Blues, who operate and manage the city-owned arena.
Renovation of Scottrade took a step forward Tuesday when the city’s Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority approved a resolution stating its intent to issue $160 million in industrial revenue bonds to finance the project.
No bonds would be issued before a renovation financing agreement is reached, which officials hope will happen this year. The LCRA resolution could allow the Blues to make some Scottrade improvements this summer and receive reimbursement for their costs later when a final renovation agreement is reached, a source said Thursday.
What will be done? Walls behind concession stands will be cleared out to allow for a view of the ice, the team store will be beefed up, and... and this may be the nicest part... there will be an outdoor biergarten that may very well be open year round on Clark. If Clark wants to become main street for St. Louis sports any more so than it already is, this'll help.
Taxpayer funds being spent on sports stadiums is a hot button topic, and them being spent on building new stadiums for teams that can damn well afford it is a waste. Scottrade, however, is city owned and its bonds are paid off. The Blues can't afford $160 million worth of renovations, and since it's not their building (they do manage it) it's not technically their responsibility. Renovations could bring a ton of new events to downtown St. Louis and the neighboring hotels and establishments. Could it be a wash? Yes. Is it better than plunking down over a billion or so bucks for a football stadium along the north riverfront? Probably so.