Metro-East News

Belleville considers higher hotel tax to fund $5.5M in incentives for soccer park

A Kansas City company plans to build an 11-field soccer park off Illinois 15 in Belleville.
A Kansas City company plans to build an 11-field soccer park off Illinois 15 in Belleville. Provided rendering

A proposed development agreement offers $5.5 million in hotel and motel sales tax revenue and about $250,000 in sales tax breaks for construction material to the developer of a multi-sport complex with 11 soccer fields on land next to the planned Hofbrauhaus, hotel and restaurant center off Illinois 15 in Belleville.

The deal with Kansas City-based Game On Sports Development will be considered by the city’s Economic Development and Annexation Committee at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Game On Sports Development must invest $10.2 million in the site in order to qualify for the hotel tax incentives. The company announced its plans last month.

The incentives would not become final unless the full City Council approves the development agreement.

As part of the plan to provide the hotel and motel sales tax over an 18-year period to Game On Sports Development, Belleville would increase the city’s hotel and motel tax from 5 percent to 8 percent.

Mayor Mark Eckert supports the incentives because the soccer park would be the “catalyst” to attract a second and third hotel to the site.

“To me, this project would not negatively impact the Belleville taxpayers,” Eckert said. “It’s basically if they bring the people to the hotel, they don’t get paid.

“If they bring all these people to the hotels, not only are they going to give us hotel/motel tax, they’re going to eat some place, they’re going to run down the street because they need something from a local drugstore ... and they’re going to get gas and we’re going to get the residual effects.”

Here are other highlights of the development agreement with Game On Sports Development:

▪  Game On Sports Development would get 25 percent of the hotel and motel tax collected within the new Illinois 15 project area where up to three hotels could be built in the development planned by the Keller family of Effingham. People from around the Midwest are expected to travel to Belleville to participate in soccer tournaments and stay in the new hotels on Illinois 15.

▪  Game On Sports Development, which is managed by David Thorman who plans to have Kansas City-based Global Sports International open the soccer complex, could receive an estimated $307,887 annually from the hotel and motel sales tax revenue. Global Sports International already runs a soccer park complex in Overland Park, Kan. Global Sports International and Thorman had been trying to build a soccer park in Chesterfield, Mo., but that project has been delayed because the developers have not received assistance sought from St. Louis County. Thorman could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

▪  If Game On Sports Development fails to meet its obligations, the company must repay the city the hotel and motel sales tax money it received.

▪  The sales tax exemption for construction materials is contingent upon the state approving the expansion of the Belleville enterprise zone to include the soccer park site. City officials have said they are still waiting on a decision from the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity on whether the agency will allow the enterprise zone to be extended. Developments in an enterprise zone can qualify for sales tax exemptions on the purchase of construction materials.

This request for an extension of the city’s current enterprise zone is different from the city’s request for a new enterprise zone. The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity announced Sunday it would not certify 49 enterprise zone requests “at this time” because of the budget impasse between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic lawmakers.

The city’s Finance Committee will be asked to vote on the soccer park incentives on Sept. 3. City Council members may vote on the soccer park development agreement at their meeting on Sept. 8.

Meanwhile, site preparation is underway for the Hofbrauhaus/hotel site. The city has approved $15.69 million tax incentives for this project, which developers value at $50 million to $60 million.

Contact reporter Mike Koziatek at mkoziatek@bnd.com or 618-239-2502. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeKoziatekBND.

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