JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — With funding set to expire this year, a proposal to extend state appropriations for the Truman Sports Complex and Bartle Hall has cleared the first hurdle.
The House Economic Development Committee give the bill their stamp of approval on Monday. HB 677, sponsored by Rep. Jon Patterson, also includes funding for improvements to the Enterprise Center in St. Louis.
“For the state, it’s a significant return on their investment. They contribute or invest $3 million in the complex. And then direct taxes alone, in 2017, we collected almost $27 million dollars for the state of Missouri,” said Jim Rowland, executive director of the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority.
Since 1990, the state has contributed $3 million for operations at the Truman Sports Complex. That funding is set to expire this year without action for lawmakers. Patterson is proposing to extend state funding for the complex until 2030, the same year when the Kansas City Royals lease at Kauffman Stadium and the Kansas City Chiefs lease at Arrowhead Stadium expire.
The Kansas City Convention Center, better known as Bartle Hall, would also continue receiving $2 million in funds from the state.
“These are examples of beneficial public-private partnerships,” said one witness in support of the bill.
The bill includes adding funding for a facility that has never received state appropriations to date. $3.5 million annually for 20 years would go to funding improvements at the Enterprise Center, under the proposal. Officials testified that without the funding for improvements they are at risk of losing big events.
Frank Viverito, president of the St. Louis Sports Commission, noted that the water heaters in the complex were installed 24 years ago and that without improvements, the SEC tournament will not come back to St. Louis. He pointed out that even though it is a public-owned facility, no public dollars have gone to the building’s upkeep.
He noted the city will miss out on events from NCAA Wrestling, USA Gymnastics, LiveNation, US Figure Skating, and more.
Some on the committee questioned how the money would be spent and how that benefits the taxpayers of Missouri.
Patterson pointed out that the bill specifies the appropriates mush have a “positive net fiscal impact.” One official pointed out that the buildings are publicly owned and the teams simple lease the facilities and the state funds go to building maintenance.