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The failed Chicago bid to host the Olympics highlights the tension between quick-fix, one time mega events and sustainable economic growth over the long haul. Not everyone in a host city is in the hospitality industry. Some people have to go to work each day, unable to afford the world class ticket prices to attend the once-in-a-life-time events. But every once in a while there is a convergence of economic forces that could make the sport/economy thing actually work.
Serious efforts are underway to bring the World Cup soccer tournament to the United States. The tournament is played all over the host country. St. Louis has a real chance to be one of the venues for a round or two of the tourney. But World cup officials insist that the games be played outdoors. At the same time, our ability to keep the Rams playing in The Edward Jones Dome depends on serious upgrades being made to that facility. There is very little support for more local taxes to improve the dome. The quality of Rams play is making that an even harder sell. We are approaching the dangerous point where people will not break out in a panic when they learn that the Rams are thinking of getting out of Dodge.
I propose that our sports business people design a state of the art outdoor soccer stadium, perhaps on the eastside riverfront facing the Arch. It should seat about 80,000 people. Two states would participate in the financing of the facility. Its central location would serve as a very attractive venue for NCAA tournaments, College Bowl Games - like the Arch Bowl and the like. Oh, and the rest of the time it could be the home of our NFL franchise. I believe that St. Louis has demonstrated its devotion to soccer. I believe many reluctant to finance football stadium upgrades would pitch in to bring the soccer world to the Gateway to the West. Gateway Stadium — kind of has a nice ring to it.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Mark Shook is Rabbi Emeritus at Temple Israel.