Thursday vote not certain for Louisville City FC soccer stadium deal

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Metro Council committees approved funding measures last week for a proposed Butchertown soccer stadium, but it’s not certain they will come up for a scheduled vote when the full council meets on Thursday.

Some elected officials have argued that the funding plan is moving too fast through the council, which would approve a $30 million bond issue to buy land for use by private developers and create a tax-increment financing district.

Council member Barbara Sexton Smith, the 4th District Democrat who is sponsoring four stadium-related ordinances, said Monday that the council needs to “slow down” and “take a breath” as it weighs the city’s role in the project. Plans also call for commercial space, including offices and hotels, on roughly 35 acres not far from Waterfront Park.

“We are a long way from Thursday, and we have a number of discussions that were taking place all weekend long. … That vote will come up for a vote in front of the full council when the full council feels ready and prepared to do that,” she said.

In an interview Monday, she declined to say if she believes the council ought to vote this week. As sponsor, Sexton Smith could ask for the ordinances to be delayed until a later council meeting.

“Part of my job as the sponsor is to not rush something if it doesn’t have to be rushed,” she said. “So we need to be methodical and think this one through.”

Council president David Yates did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The ordinances include a measure approving bonds for buying land, addressing any contamination and adding sidewalks and other public infrastructure. As part of the deal, developers have pledged to reimburse the city through $14.5 million in stadium rental and other revenues.

Another revenue-sharing agreement would pay Metro government up to $2 million from the stadium’s net income after deducting some expenses.

After Thursday’s meeting, the council is scheduled to meet again on October 26. Options on the properties begin to expire November 10, said Mike Mountjoy, one of Louisville City FC’s investors.

“I don’t know whether they’ll vote or not on Thursday,” Mountjoy said on Monday. “We’re willing to go until the 26th if that’s what it takes to get all the questions answered.”

The deal was agreed to by Mayor Greg Fischer’s administration. Jeff Mosley, Fischer’s general counsel, and city chief finance officer Daniel Frockt appeared at several Metro Council committee meetings last week to answer questions from council members and those submitted by the Pegasus Institute think tank.

But council member Kevin Kramer, R-11th District, said the body still needs time to fully understand the impact of the deal. Council committees first began debating the city’s contribution last Tuesday.

“The council hasn’t been aware of any of the specifics,” Kramer said. “This is the Mayor’s decision. It’s the Mayor that decided he was going to take as long as it took to do it. It’s the Mayor who didn’t give us the deal until literally right before the need to try and act.”

“Even though I know they’re in a hurry, I do believe voting on it on the 26th gives them enough time to do what they need to do,” he said.

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