BELLEVILLE, IL (KPLR) – It looks as if Belleville is going to have a youth soccer and sports tournament complex before Chesterfield does. Global Sports International proposed a complex along I-64 on land owned by the city of Chesterfield more than a year ago. But that project is stalled and now the firm is negotiating with Belleville for funding to cover some of its infrastructure costs at a new hotel and convention center development along IL Rt. 15.
That announcement was made during a ground breaking for the hotel development Tuesday afternoon. The sixty million dollar project by Missionary Ventures includes a 40,000 square foot convention center, a German themed restaurant and brewery under the franchise of Hofbrauhaus, at least two hotels and a convenience store.
Belleville’s Mayor Mark Eckert said talks with GSI were continuing. “We haven’t locked in all the incentives, but we’re very close to bringing it to the city council for a vote.”
St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger said Tuesday GSI never gave him any documentation on the Chesterfield soccer-sports complex that would justify the request for two million dollars for sewer work. “The county cannot afford two million dollars for a private company,” Stenger said. This summer Stenger bowed out of any additional funding for new bonds to finance a new NFL stadium on the St. Louis Riverfront without a public vote.
GSI facility developer Dave Thorman argues Stenger is missing a big opportunity. He said he had met several times with Stenger’s predecessor in office, Charlie Dooley and Dooley’s top aide Garry Earls. He predicts such a complex of 11 or 12 fields would generate 46,000 hotel room nights a year from teams and families attending sport tournaments.
“We gave not only a formal request, they have a study, HVS study that Mr. O’Mara ordered that actually recommended our site in Chesterfield,” said Thorman. But Thorman admitted the study was done before Stenger took office.
St. Louis County Councilman Mike O’Mara said the economic impact study on youth soccer and sports fields is being updated by the consultant firm, HVS. He favors construction of soccer fields on St. Louis County land at Creve Coeur Lake Park.
The debate over the best site for a soccer tournament complex in St. Louis County became an issue in last summer’s primary race between incumbent Dooley and fellow Democrat and challenger Stenger.