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As MLS Weighs St. Louis’ Bid, Board Of Aldermen Holds Off Expanding Port Authority

St. Louis civic leaders, members of the Taylor family, which owns Enterprise Holdings, and World Wide Technology Jim Kavanaugh announced plans to form a bid to attract a Major League Soccer expansion team in St. Louis. Oct. 9, 2018.
File photo | Melody Walker | St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis civic leaders, members of the Taylor family, which owns Enterprise Holdings, and World Wide Technology CEO Jim Kavanaugh announce plans to form a bid to attract a Major League Soccer expansion team in St. Louis on Oct. 9, 2018.

The city of St. Louis will not expand its port authority — at least for now. That had been the plan aimed at helping St. Louis’ bid to land a Major League Soccer franchise.

But on Monday, the Board of Alderman did not consider port authority expansion during its final meeting of the session. Officials with both St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s office and the St. Louis Board of Aldermen do not believe the inaction will hurt St. Louis’ chances at joining the professional soccer league.

Organizers behind St. Louis’ MLS bid had wanted to expand the St. Louis Port Authority throughout the city. That would have allowed for a 1% tax to be assessed inside a proposed soccer stadium near Union Station.

But Alderwoman Marlene Davis’ legislation wasn’t considered on Monday, which is the last day of the Board of Aldermen’s session. Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed said that some of his colleagues weren’t completely comfortable with the legislation. Some had expressed concernsabout whether the legislation would make it easier to use eminent domain.

Reed emphasized that he did not think St. Louis’ MLS bid was in jeopardy.

“The Port Authority bill was just one option of addressing it. We have other options of addressing it,” said Reed, without specifying what those options would be. “I’m looking forward to working with the administration when we get back in session tomorrow to address that issue. Soccer is important for the city of St. Louis. I think it’s important for the league to understand that St. Louis is ready for soccer — and people are excited to have it here in the city.”

Stephen Conway, who is chief of staff for Mayor Lyda Krewson, said he also didn’t think the non-passage of Davis’ bill would harm St. Louis’ MLS chances.

“It shouldn’t hurt anything at this point in time,” Conway said. “We’re confident that the vast majority of the aldermen fully support the MLS investors in bringing soccer to St. Louis.”

Major League Soccer owners are slated to meet this week in Los Angeles. St. Louis and Sacramento are considered to have the strongest chances at getting an expansion franchise.

Prop NS bill gets final approval

The board did approve legislation that could help spruce up abandoned buildings.

Alderman Jeffrey Boyd’s legislation would effectively authorize what’s known as Proposition NS. That initiative would issue $40 million in bonds to help stabilize vacant city-owned houses.

Proposition NS received 60 percent of the vote in 2017, which the city counselor's office thought had missed the threshold to go into effect. But city officials successfully sued, contending that state law only required 57 percent for approval.

Boyd, D-22nd Ward, said the money could help make vacant properties more attractive to potential buyers.

“Because what you’re going to do is you’re going to give a developer a head start,” Boyd said. “So if you’ve got a brand new roof or you’ve done some tuckpointing — let’s say $20,000 worth of work — well, that’s a pretty good deal if you want to buy a home.”

Boyd’s legislation now goes to Krewson’s desk, who is expected to sign the measure.

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.