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St Louis FC stadium plans rejected

Plans to build a new soccer stadium in St Louis, Missouri, took a significant blow this week after a motion to secure $60 million in public funding for the project was rejected.

The chances of St Louis hosting a Major League Soccer (MLS) team as part of expansion plans now hang by a thread.

St. Louis held municipal elections on Tuesday and a measure intended to secure public financing for a soccer-specific stadium was defeated by 53% to 47%.

Voters were asked to decide on two propositions. The first involved funding a public transportation expansion with a half-cent increase in sales tax; The second proposition would have allocated $60 million (raised via a half-cent use tax on out-of-state business purchases) toward the the stadium development.

Both propositions needed to pass for the stadium to move forward; only Proposition 1 was approved, with roughly 60% of the vote.

Following the vote, the MLS said in a statement:

For many years we have believed that St. Louis would be a tremendous market for a Major League Soccer team, but the lack of a positive stadium vote is clearly a significant setback for the city’s expansion opportunity and a loss for the community. 

We deeply appreciate the efforts of Paul Edgerley, Jim Kavanaugh and their partners to bring Major League Soccer to St. Louis.  They were focused on creating a plan that benefited the community at no cost to St. Louis City residents while bringing the fastest growing professional League in North America to the region.

St. Louis is one of 12 cities that submitted a bid for an MLS expansion team.

The others are San Diego, Tampa Bay/St Petersburg, Detroit, Cincinatti, Sacramento, San Antonio, Raleigh/Durham, Phoenix, Indianapolis, Nashville and Charlotte.

Significantly, however, only Sacramento has the funding in place to build a new stadium.

MLS plans to announce its next two expansion teams later this year, with another pair to follow, bringing the eventual total to 28 clubs.