St. Louis Invests in Scottrade Center

The city of St. Louis plans on using $160 million in industrial revenue bonds to finance renovations at the Scottrade Center, home of the National Hockey League’s St. Louis Blues.

According to Tim Bryant of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the measure to approve the use of the bonds was approved by the city’s Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority on Tuesday, May 24. While the use for the bonds has been approved, the bonds have not yet been issued, pending the final approval of a financing agreement.

That doesn’t mean a serious delay in the renovation projects, however. The Blues, who manage the Scottrade Center and are the primary tenants, plan to use $10 million of their own money up front with the understanding of being reimbursed for those expenses after the bonds are issued.

Scheduled to begin this summer with those funds are upgrades to the ice production facilities and control room for the scoreboard. Other plans include remodeled locker rooms, renovated concession stands, a larger team store, revamped seating and the construction of an enclosed beer garden.

Revamping seating will allow the Blues and the city to offer fans more premium seating options, thus increasing the monetization potential of events. The beer garden is the biggest item of interest. Because of its enclosure, it could be operated year-round. Whether that happens will largely depend on the profit ratio.

These upgrades have been a long time coming. The Scottrade Center hasn’t seen any significant renovations since 1994, and the bonds for the stadium have been paid off since 2006. Success on the ice might have played a part in hastening the approval of the bonds at this point, as the Blues just came two wins away from hosting Stanley Cup Final games.

The Los Angeles Rams vacating America’s Center, which is the complex containing what was formerly referred to as the Edward Jones Dome, played a part in the Scottrade Center’s windfall as well. This past January plans to upgrade both facilities were released in a last-ditch effort to keep the Rams in St. Louis. When that didn’t happen, the choice to apply the bonds to the Scottrade Center became obvious.

With a new beer garden, renovated facilities and public financing behind them, the Blues are hoping that what the Rams considered trash will become their treasure.

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