Sports Economist Dr. Patrick Rishe on why MLS Stadium Deal Good for St. Louis

Aerial view of the proposed SC STL stadium. Photo via HOK

Washington University professor and sports economist, Dr. Patrick Rishe, joined The Press Box to explain why he believes the MLS stadium deal, which will be voted on Tuesday, is a good deal for Saint Louis.

Listen to the complete interview and read some quotes below:

Is the ownership group’s expected attendance figures realistic?

“From what I’ve seen, it’s certainly realistic. I think the medium attendance across the league is 88 to 90 percent of capacity. The numbers they’re projecting are closer to the league’s median…so it’s certainly realistic and reasonable in that it’s in line with Major League Soccer.”

What do you think of those people against the stadium project because “corporate welfare”?

“80 percent of the money needed both to build the stadium and pay (all the MLS expansion fees) is coming from the SC STL investors. 80 percent. Just the construction of the stadium, 39 percent of the financing is coming from public sources, but none of them are going to be new taxes that are going to be placed specifically on residents of the city that aren’t going to have anything to do with the stadium. If you’re not going to the stadium, if you’re not a business that’s doing out of town purchases as part of your business, then you’re not contributing to this. And let’s not forget part of these propositions are going to be utilized to to improve MetroLink and improve levels of public safety. It’s a hard argument when you hear people talking about that. People haven’t educated themselves on the facts.”

And there’s no doubt in your mind that the city of St. Louis will have more money coming in than giving out for the stadium?

“There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind. I’ve looked at some of the numbers myself. I just feel, when you look at public-private partnerships of sports facilities in this country since 1990, you’d be hard-pressed to find a private-public partnership that’s more fiscally responsible and with community benefits the size of what we have here. I think this is a fiscally responsible deal.”