Legislation allowing up to $6 million in annual state funding to pay for Scottrade Center renovations in St. Louis was approved Tuesday by the Missouri Senate Economic Development Committee.
The bill is sponsored by State Sen. Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan), who tells Missourinet St. Louis will lose bids on several upcoming events, without major upgrades to the 23-year-old facility.
“We have an older facility there that they’re in competition with some of those newer facilities,” Schatz says. “And without renovations and making this kind of a state-of-the-art system, we’re going to lose out on the opportunities to draw those people.”
The committee vote was 9-2 for the bill. State Sens. Dan Hegeman (R-Cosby) and Will Kraus (R-Lee’s Summit) voted against it.
Senator Schatz testifies that the Scottrade Center, which is where the NHL’s Blues play, generates $170 million in direct spending annually by 1.2 million annual visitors.
The Blues CEO says the building’s plumbing and electrical are failing. Scottrade was built in 1994.
Schatz says the Scottrade Center generates $11 million annually in tax revenues for the state.
“When you look at the overall amount of revenue that’s generated and tax revenue that comes to the state from that facility, that’s why they’re asking for some help,” says Schatz.
The St. Louis Board of Aldermen has approved issuing $64 million in bonds, and the “St. Louis Post-Dispatch” reports the Blues ownership group plans to chip in about $50 million over the next 20 to 30 years. Schatz tells senators the Scottrade Center/Peabody Opera House is responsible for filling 55,000 hotel rooms in the region annually.
Schatz is hopeful that St. Louis will land the NHL all-star game, if Missouri lawmakers approve his bill.
“In order to compete for something like the NHL all-star game, you’re going to have to have a top-tier facility in order to get those events to come to St. Louis,” says Schatz.
St. Louis Blues CEO Chris Zimmerman testified earlier this month in Jefferson City that the plumbing and mechanical systems at Scottrade are failing. Zimmerman says chilled water pumps “are at the end of their useful life.” He also testified that piping “throughout the entire facility is deteriorating.”
Zimmerman and other bill supporters handed a packet to senators during that hearing, which contained photos.
That packet detailed the Blues’ investment in keeping Scottrade active. The packet also read, in part, that “for nearly 25 years the combined Blues-Scottrade Center operation has resulted in more than $500 million in losses for Blues owners.”