The first of a series of changes in Missouri’s tax credit system clears a hurdle in the Senate, which fast-tracking an effort to bring big-time amateur sports events to the state.

The idea is for the state to trade some tax money to get more tax money. Kirkwood Sen. Eric Schmitt will give backers of amateur sports events five dollars in tax credits for each ticket sold.  He argues that people attending those major events such as the Final Four in basketball or the Frozen Four in college hockey, or conference tournaments will spend hundreds of dollars each day–and their sales taxes will more than make up for the tax break on tickets.

And he says it’s not just for St. Louis and Kansas City, where the NCAA tournaments have been held several times.

“This is about Cape Girardeau possibly hosting the Ohio Valley tournament,” he says. “This is about Joplin being able to host meaningful AAU tournaments.”

He says the tax credits will help Missouri compete for those major events that other states have lured away with tax break programs of their own.  They would not be available for in-state events such as high school playoffs … only for those events in which at least one other state bids. 

The bill is ready to be sent — as some sportscasters like to say — to the House. 

AUDIO: Debate, part 1 (45:56)

AUDIO: Debate, part 2 (48:58