In the latest example of the public mood when it comes to using taxpayer money for sports teams, St. Louis voters rejected on Tuesday a proposal to spend $60 million in public fund on a stadium for a Major League Soccer franchise.
The good news, sort of, is that the vote was fairly close, with “no” securing 53 percent and “yes” getting 47. Still, as explained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, this likely means that St. Louis won’t be getting an MLS expansion franchise.
Public money is hard to come by for professional sports venues, especially when a public vote is involved. In Las Vegas, $750 million in free money for a Raiders stadium came from legislative action. Other NFL teams that have secured public money in recent years have done so without a vote; in those places where votes were needed, the effort typically has failed.
Before the Rams left for L.A., where the team eventually will play in a privately-financed stadium, the powers-that-be in St. Louis put together a package that wouldn’t have required an election.
As the NFL’s current collection of stadiums moves toward their inevitable expiration dates, the absence of public money could make more relocations likely — especially if cities that currently don’t have teams are willing to come up with hundreds of millions to make it happen.