Reports are in, and according to Mike Faulk and others, St. Louis Proposition 2 has failed, being voted down 53% to 47%. This means that, as nearly as we can tell, there will be no MLS team in St. Louis in the near future.
Many are celebrating tonight, including, obviously, the 53% of St. Louis voters who voted down this ballot measure. They believe that they have forbidden the city from another frivolous use of taxpayer money by preventing the building of a new soccer stadium downtown.
Others are devastated. A quick perusal of the MLS2STL Twitter hash tag shows how heartbroken many might-have-been St. Louis MLS fans are at the news. They believe that shortsighted voters who are more worried about their own wallets than they are the city’s future have taken away an exciting new venture for our city.
As I wrote in an article a few days ago, I was heavily in favor of passing Proposition 2 and building a new stadium in this city. But I do want to respect the voters who felt the other way. Obviously, at least as the results are concerned, I am in the minority.
What is most interesting to me is that Proposition 1, the measure that actually raised taxes, looks to pass by a wide margin. This means that voters were specifically vetoing the stadium, not the taxation. This could come from one of two things. The less likely option, I think, is that the voters did not understand the taxes, and failed to realize that the tax used for Proposition 2 would exist if Prop 1 passed, whether or not it was used for the stadium.
The more likely option, in my opinion, is that the city is still healing from the fresh wounds of the Rams leaving town. With an empty stadium slowly decaying and a debt still on the budget from the football team that used our city and then moved on to greener pastures, I can sympathize with city voters who just weren’t ready to line the pockets of a new stadium investor. I think that in the long term, this decision will be a mistake. But I do understand it.
What remains to be seen is whether this is really the last straw for an MLS team in St. Louis. MLS officials and the investors themselves have been adamant that there is no Plan B after Prop 2, but that was before Prop 2 failed. It will be fascinating to see how true they are to their word now that they are faced with this new reality.
In the meantime, St. Louis Soccer fans will be forced to settle for what they have settled for all along: cheering on their local high school teams, adopting teams from big European leagues like the Premier League, cheering on their national teams, and following the USL St. Louis F.C. It is a bitter ending, perhaps, for fans of the beautiful game, particularly in a city with such a storied soccer history. But the voters have made their stand, and for the time being, there will be no Major League Soccer team in the Gateway City.