In case you’ve been living under a rock, then you didn’t know the Board of Aldermen of St. Louis shot down a proposal to renovate Scottrade Center the other day. However, they voted to send the proposal for an MLS stadium to be voted by the entire Board of Aldermen for referral to city voters. Therefore, St. Louis’ hope for an MLS franchise is alive and well. But if both were to have been pushed through, St. Louis’ economy could be on the verge of a breakthrough.
The Scottrade Center has been the home of the St. Louis Blues since it was opened in October of 1994, going through several names such as Kiel Center, Savvis Center, and currently Scottrade. But this will change next season, as TD Ameritrade bought the naming rights of the arena proceeding the 2016-17 season. But here’s the thing. Do you know how much renovation has happened since the then Kiel Center opened its doors? None.
Just over 20 years of existence and not much has changed. But Scottrade needs renovations, badly. Because Scottrade’s quality as a stadium has dropped, organizations such as the NCAA and many concert agencies have threatened to back out of scheduling events at Scottrade and flee to other cities instead unless Scottrade is updated.
After the 2015-16 season, Scout.com did its annual rankings of fan experience at stadiums in the NHL. The Blues and Scottrade Center were ranked third best in the league, only behind the Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild. Paul Swaney, author of the article had this to say about the Blues and Scottrade Center: “The new ownership and an infusion of solid off-ice leadership has vaulted the team to the second largest increase in franchise value at 15%. And there are many reasons for this, including the experience at Scottrade Center.”
Blues games are an absolute blast to attend and fans pack the stands night after night. According to Tom Stillman, owner and chairman of the Blues, the team brings in roughly $132M in direct revenue a year. Blues executive and city leaders are asking the city for $138M in renovations, including a new scoreboard (jumbotron), new seating, locker rooms, concession stands, along with lighting and sound upgrades.
But Blues games aren’t even the majority of events that take place at the arena, according to Alex Rodrigo, group vice president of operations for Scottrade and arena general manager. He says that Blues games take up about 40% of the events and the other 60% being things such as concerts, MVC Basketball, etc.
But per some of the aldermen, the upgrades are only for the Blues. Reportedly, Christine Ingrassia, alderwoman for the 6th ward, called the improvements to the arena solely for hockey. But little do they all know that if renovations were undergone at Scottrade, the arena would draw in so much more. Here’s a list of events that organizations said would put heavy emphasis on having at Scottrade Center if it is updated:
-NHL All-Star Game
-NCAA Tournament Games
-NCAA Wrestling Championships
-NCAA Frozen Four
-Olympic Figure Skating Trials and various figure skating competitions
-Continued scheduling of the MVC Tournament, SEC sporting events, concerts, and shows
These events would bring in people from all over the states, and even some from out of the country to St. Louis, increasing revenue in not only the Scottrade Center but other local businesses and attractions. The $138M investment in Scottrade would have a colossal ROI (return on investment) over time.
Now let’s get to that MLS stadium. Soccer has a huge following in St. Louis, whether you know it or not. If St. Louis were to build the stadium and get an MLS franchise, it would be huge for the city. Roughly 1000+ jobs would be created and once again, several events have already been guaranteed to St. Louis’s MLS stadium if built:
-MLS All-Star Game (typically includes MLS All-Stars vs. a European powerhouse soccer club)
-Men’s and Women’s Division I, II, and III FCS Soccer National Championships
-NCAA FCS Football National Championship Game
-Division II & III Football National Championships
-NCAA D1 Men’s Lacrosse Quarterfinals
Again, hosting these events means patrons from across the entire United States would be coming to St. Louis, and spending money in the stadium and on local businesses in the area while they are in town.
To conclude, St. Louis’ economy has extremely high potential with these two stadiums. Between the newness of the stadiums, the continued following of hockey and soccer in the area, and the guaranteed events that could come to St. Louis, the amount of revenue would way exceed the money being put in to build/renovate the stadiums. The last thing St. Louis needs is another team leaving the town in the dust after failed stadium negotiations. As the great quote in Field of Dreams says, “If you build it, they will come.”