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Scottrade Center renovation heads to court

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The Blues are suing the city comptroller.

Detroit Red Wings v St. Louis Blues Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Scottrade Center renovations are currently underway, and are being conducted 24/7 to meet the deadline for the September 17th Ed Sheeran (!) concert. Few Blues fans can disagree that the building, which opened in 1994, needs upgrades badly. Where the issue is concerns who is paying for the upgrades. To resolve this problem, the Blues are suing the comptroller and taking the issue to court.

The agreement to fund a $64 million renovation was approved by the St. Louis board of aldermen in February, but city comptroller Darlene Green is refusing to sign off on it due to concerns about the city’s credit rating. Without Green’s signature, the bonds to fund the renovation can’t be sold. Green has, instead of signing, tried to negotiate a different funding plan. The Blues, in a court filing released today, are stating that Green is acting outside of her job duties and have filed a writ of mandamus requesting that she fulfill her job duties.

From the Post-Dispatch, the payment plan of the renovations is as follows:

Combined with interest, the cost to the city for the renovations over 30 years is estimated at $105 million. The plan includes $50 million from a Community Improvement District tax on sales at Scottrade Center over the next 30 years.

To help pay off the debt, $55 million from a 5 percent tax on ticket sales would be used. With debt payments on Kiel Opera House renovations ending in 2021, the $800,000 dedicated annually to that project would shift to Scottrade Center payments thru 2048, totaling about $21 million.

Part of the debt payment still will come from general revenue.

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The city’s contributions would fund new seating throughout the stadium, a new scoreboard hung in the center of the stadium, sound system and lighting upgrades, renovated locker rooms, renovated concession stands and new administrative offices. Various entryways and facades would also get makeovers.

The Blues will be contributing $50 million for additional renovations to the city owned building.

Without the funding, the future of the renovation payments is unclear.

It’s difficult to argue with the Blues when they state that a renovated Scottrade is key to bringing major events to the city. It’s hard to forget how St. Louis made it to the top level of consideration for the 2018 World Juniors but lost out to Buffalo. Part of the consideration the IIHF paid was the venue state. The metro area didn’t have the updated venues, and Scottrade was part of that. Other events, such as NCAA basketball and wrestling, use the Scottrade Center, and an upgrade to the venue would make St. Louis more attractive as a host.

On the other hand, it’s disingenuous to claim that it’s just the condition of the Scottrade Center that’s holding St. Louis back. While we can host an event with the best of them, downtown needs revitalized in the worst way. Scottrade being up to date could be part of that (as could’ve a MLS team, but I digress), and you have to spend money to make money. The issue here seems to be where the city, and specifically the city’s comptroller, believes that the money is best spent.

The Keil Center Partners’ statement is below:

It is unacceptable that, though the Financing Agreement was duly approved by the Board of Aldermen and Mayor six months ago, the Comptroller of the City of St. Louis refuses to fulfill her lawful obligation and sign the Scottrade Center Financing Agreement. The delay has now reached the point where we have no alternative but to seek a legal remedy. Filing a lawsuit was the last thing we wanted to do, but we do so today with no reservations and an absolute determination to see the Agreement executed by the Comptroller after it was passed by the Board of Aldermen and signed into law by the Mayor of St. Louis. The Comptroller’s views have been expressed and heard, but the Office of the Comptroller simply does not have the authority to veto bills passed into law by the Board of Aldermen and the Mayor. This is an essential project for St. Louis. However, without the promised financing, the completion of this work and our ability to keep and pursue major events that are critical to jobs and our economy is severely at risk.