The fate of the proposed $200 million soccer stadium in downtown St. Louis will be determined by city voters who will be asked to approve $60 million to help fund the stadium on the city’s April 4 Election Day ballot.
World Wide Technology CEO Jim Kavanaugh is one of four people on the executive committee of SC STL, the group trying to build the stadium and bring an MLS expansion franchise to St. Louis.
Kavanaugh joined The Press Box on Wednesday to discuss his group’s strategy for convincing voters to approve the stadium ballot measure. He also talked about U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team manager Bruce Arena’s visit to St. Louis this week.
Read some excerpts from the interview and listen to the complete conversation below:
On Bruce Arena’s visit:
“I thought it was great to have Bruce in town. He’s had a lot of success and a great history in the MLS and with the USMNT. Hopefully he can get us to Russia (for the World Cup). It was great to have him in town.”
On Arena talking about St. Louis influencing soccer in the 1950s and 1960s:
“There’s a lot to be proud of to be in St. Louis and to be apart of the history of soccer in St. Louis and the impact it’s had on soccer in the United States. On the other hand, St. Louis has fallen behind a bit (of late). I think now we have the opportunity to get back in the game…in a very significant way.”
What strategies are your group employing to win the stadium vote in April?
“Obviously the big hurdle is getting the vote on April 4. On our website, we had a volunteer request for anyone that wanted to get involved…and we had 800 people that volunteered to actively be part of the campaign. The amount of people that are supporting us and want to make this happen is a positive sign.”
“There will be people that will be going door to door in different neighborhoods. We’re still working through the details on what neighborhoods we’re talking about…who’s going to do that, what kind of information we’ll disseminate. Yard signs will be going out, stickers that we’ll be handing out. Different paraphernalia and things…Those are a number of things along with social media campaigns that we’ll have to get the word out. Those are a few of the things. Also, any help, the press that are interested, will be instrumental in getting the facts out in regards to how positive this can be for St. Louis.”
On people who think the stadium money will take away from education, policing, etc…:
“It’s a little frustrating (the some people don’t understand that this money wouldn’t take away from those things). I understadn there can be a level of confusion. From our perspective…this is something that is a use tax that is only being taxed on businesses in the city on products that are bought outside the city of St. Louis. We’re actually generating $78 million in taxes and the ticket sales and concessions that are specific to the stadium that would be generated over the life of this project.”
On why the soccer stadium would be good for St. Louis:
“We’re actually generating $78 million in taxes and the ticket sales and concessions that are specific to the stadium that would be generated over the life of this project. The creation of construction jobs for people downtown and the city. We’re also projecting about 450 permanent jobs. Also, the utilization of 24 acres of land that’s unused now and being able to put a multi-purpose stadium right next to Union Station. I also think…St. Louis needs to be a bit more progressive. You can’t cut your way to success. If you’re going to continue to grow the economy…you have to be willing to invest.”