With the St. Louis Blues hockey franchise up for sale, the debate will begin again over the value of sports franchises. From my vantage point, our professional sports teams are very important to our City.
First and foremost, the Rams, Blues and Cardinals bring people from the suburbs and beyond into the City. Every sports crowd here has far more visitors than residents - and many of those visitors have come only for the sports. And, they do spend money. The three sports teams generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity and generate more than ten million dollars in direct taxes to pay for City services for residents.
The three sports teams are also vitally important to our central business district. Downtown is undergoing a renaissance with new housing, new retail outlets, and new attractions. Far less of it would be happening if these three sports teams played their games in other cities - or, even, in our own suburbs. If you do not believe me, just ask the hotel managers, restaurant owners, and the attraction directors.
The professional teams also bring intangibles, including a civic pride that unifies us when our teams play well. They bring national attention to the City and the region that lend them their names.
Finally, sports are just plain fun. I, myself, look forward to a Cubs/Cards series in the summer, the Rams against the Football Cardinals in the fall, or a Saturday night Blues/Blackhawks game in the winter.
Sports is not everything. Making our neighborhoods safer and improving our schools are more important. But, pro sports is a big, high-profile business, and the teams add a nice spice to our lives.
So, I will work to keep the St. Louis Blues in St. Louis - just as I worked to keep the Cardinals here, and as a pair of predecessors worked to bring the Rams to St. Louis.
As always, I will keep you posted on our progress.