St. Louis to consider funding to upgrade Scottrade Center

ST. LOUIS (AP) St. Louis aldermen will consider spending about $4 million annually for 20 years to help fund renovations of the city-owned arena that is home to the St. Louis Blues and other events.

A proposal outlined at a news conference Tuesday would use city tax revenue that the Scottrade Center generates to finance an estimated $67.5 million in bonds to pay for improvements to the 22-year-old building. Blues chairman Tom Stillman said the upgrades are badly needed or St. Louis could lose out on future events like the national NCAA wrestling championship, basketball regionals, concerts and other big draws.

''The ability to attract these events is very much at risk,'' Stillman said.

Aldermanic President Lewis Reed planned to introduce the funding bill this week. He said it would not require a vote of the people.

The bonds would be repaid by a new 1 percent sales tax collected solely at the Scottrade Center and the Peabody Opera House next door, Mayor Francis Slay said.

''If we want to continue to bring people into our city, who will enjoy their visit and spend their money, we must upgrade our aging hospitality infrastructure assets,'' Slay said.

The announcement came one day after Gov.-elect Eric Greitens reiterated his opposition to state funding of another downtown St. Louis project, a proposed $200 million soccer stadium considered the key to attracting a Major League Soccer expansion franchise. Investors were seeking $40 million in state tax credits, along with $80 million in city funding if voters approve. It isn't yet clear if that project can move ahead without state funding.

There is no request for state funding for the Scottrade Center improvements.

The arena opened in 1994 and is owned by the city. Stillman said the Blues and team owners have spent $237 million on improvements over the years, and would continue to help fund future upgrades even with the public money.

The improvements range from new refrigerant piping for the hockey rink to exterior renovations to upgraded locker rooms and seating upgrades.

Stillman said events at the Scottrade Center have generated more than $100 million in tax revenue for the city.

The arena ''is really at a crossroads,'' Stillman said. ''If we renovate it, modernize it, make it competitive again, it will continue to have a major effect on our local economy for years to come, also on our quality of life as St. Louis citizens.''

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