Proposal for fee on ticket sales to fund Scottrade Center upgrades

ST. LOUIS, Mo. _A bill introduced this week by at St. Louis City alderwoman focuses on upgrades to Scottrade Center and the funding for the renovations. If approved by the Board of Aldermen and city voters, everyone who attends an event at Scottrade Center or Peabody Opera House would help pay for facility improvements, rather than city taxpayers.

Board Bill 130, introduced by 20th Ward Alderwoman Cara Spencer, suggests taking a “facility fee” already added to ticket sales and using it to pay for facility improvements and construction.

According to our partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, an attorney for Kiel Center Partners, the group that owns the St. Louis Blues, argues the "facility fee" is private money, and the alderwoman cannot file a bill to redirect that money to the government.

People who attend events at Scottrade Center or Peabody Opera House already pay a five percent “amusement tax” to the city plus sales tax. The fees are added to the final ticket price.

Scottrade Center also takes about five percent from the ticket sales through a “facility fee,” which the ownership group says is $3.50 for Blues games and $3 for other events.

The facility fees have been in place since the early 2000s and are used by the ownership group, the Blues and the opera house for operations and maintenance, not capital improvements, said the Kiel Center Partners attorney.

Spencer calls it “ludicrous” that Kiel Center Partners is charging and keeping a facility fee for a facility they don’t own and aren’t upgrading. Her proposal suggests the current fee be directed to the facility renovations.

City Comptroller Darlene Green calls Spencer’s plan a "common sense solution for financing the renovations."

The Blues owners have taken Green to court asking a judge to force her to sign a deal passed by the Board of Aldermen earlier this year issuing $64 million in bonds to help fund renovation of Scottrade Center. Spencer is part of a group that filed suit against the city, the Blues and Kiel Center Partners to keep the city from paying for the project.

Meanwhile, company owners have taken out loans and work has begun on the three-year renovation project.