MLS expansion: why cities are deciding stadiums are ‘welfare for millionaires’

This week marks the deadline for the next round of MLS expansion bids. But many cities are questioning whether clubs should use public funds

Alderman Samuel Moore represents Ward Four in St Louis - one of the poorest areas of the city. During a committee meeting last Thursday he held up photographs of dilapidated housing in his local area and announced: “This is what I live every day”. Moore and other aldermen were considering a request by a group called SC STL that hopes to bring Major League Soccer to the Missouri city. The request? SC STL wants the city and its taxpayers to approve $60m of public funding (an initial request for $80m was rejected) for a new stadium that will eventually cost an estimated $200m. Moore, to put it politely, thinks that kind of cash should be spent elsewhere.

It turns out Alderman Moore is not alone. Similar debates are taking place in cities across America as MLS plans further expansion and other pro sports organizations plan upgrades or new facilities. Moore’s issue is simple. Why should a city - or state - facing major infrastructure and social challenges provide taxpayer money to help billionaires build a soccer stadium?

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