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City Analysis Found Multi-Million Dollar Difference from Soccer Stadium ‘Economic Impact Study’
From Riverfront Times: If you’re a St. Louis voter wondering about the benefits of committing $60 million of public funds to an MLS stadium, you’ve had little choice but to rely on the only resource offering a detailed financial analysis of the plan: the “economic impact study” commissioned by SC STL, the very ownership group pushing the stadium project.
According to the study’s estimates, a pro soccer team playing next to Union Station would generate about $77 million in revenue over the next 30 years, accounting for hundreds of temporary and permanent jobs, and creating a tidy gain of $17 million for the city’s coffers.
The study, which was produced by St. Louis-based consultancy firm Missouri Wonk, has been regularly touted by SC STL and its supporters in preparation for tomorrow’s general municipal election, which will determine whether St. Louis diverts tens of millions of new tax revenue to the stadium.
But fundamental questions remain about Missouri Wonk’s rosy conclusions. In fact, the only known independent analysis of the soccer stadium’s economic benefits arrived at a much different set of numbers.
The report was generated in mid-January by the St. Louis Development Corporation, or SLDC, the city’s nonprofit economic development arm. The office administers tax increment financing and other public outlays for private projects.
And its analysis nearly destroyed the stadium deal before it ever got close to the ballot box. The SLDC report concluded that Missouri Wonk’s predictions for the project’s impact — particularly the expected revenue from food and beverage taxes, city and local sales taxes, and earnings taxes — were millions higher than even the city’s most optimistic projections.
But though it was produced more than two months ago, and was shared with members of the Board of Aldermen’s Ways and Means Committee, few outside of the committee knew of its existence. It has not been publicly disseminated — until now.