Goooooooooooooooooal. (In quadruple OT.)
By a vote of 20-4, the council gave a thumbs-up for the proposed soccer stadium district about 5½ hours into Thursday’s meeting.
The council approved issuing $30 million in bonds to purchase about 37 acres of land in Butchertown for $24.2 million, spend up to $200,000 on environmental remediation and another up $5 million for infrastructure, such as roads.
In a proposed lease-to-own deal, LouCity FC plans to acquire the land for $14.5 million over 20 years.
While some council members on Thursday recommended fiscal conservatism given the significant maintenance and pension challenges facing the city, the majority of council members said they viewed the purchase as an investment that would spur additional private developments, create jobs and improve a neglected area in the city.
Owners of the second-division soccer club plan to build a $50 million, 10,000-seat stadium for an eventual bid to join Major League Soccer.
The club is playing its home games at Slugger Field, and is losing money each match, in part because it is missing out on revenue from concessions and stadium naming rights. Club and city leaders have said they expect the stadium to spur additional private investments of about $130 million for hotels, restaurants and offices.
On Thursday, club owners agreed to guarantee spending at least $45 million on the stadium and to generate additional private investments of $85 million.
Including interest, the land purchase will cost the city about $42 million. Beyond the $14.5 million in lease payments, the city also expects private investments on the property to generate at least $12 million in property taxes, meaning the city’s net cost on the project would be $15.5 million, excluding additional taxes, such as occupational taxes, that would be generated.
The council on Thursday also agreed to ask the state to create a tax increment financing district, which would funnel some of the state tax dollars collected on new investments in the district to help pay for the stadium. City and club leaders have said they expect that about $30 million in state tax dollars would flow back to the club.
The club has said that owners will leverage private dollars to obtain a bank loan to finance the stadium. The club want to build the venue by 2020.
The club has some more immediate business: LouCity FC will host a second-round playoff match at Slugger at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.