As an update to our previous story on the St. Louis Blues’s practice facility controversy, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the St. Louis County Council voted 4-3 last night to pause construction of the new venue. The planned facility would be located in Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park, about 20 miles from downtown St. Louis. According to the planning documents, the main practice facility will have three NHL-size indoor ice rinks and one NHL-sized covered outdoor rink.
Part of the reason for the delay is that the developers were supposed to gain U.S. federal parks approval before developing on land funded by federal park money. Last week, however, construction crews started grading the land—bulldozing, cutting down trees, etc—without the necessary federal approval. Organizers initially said that this work was unrelated to the practice facility development, but city permits expressly stated that the work was for constructing an ice rink.
The other reason for the delay is cost overrun. The initial project was estimated at $59.3MM but is now up to $66MM. Council members are frustrated at the misrepresentation and lack of disclosure by the developers, and now plan to delay issuing permits until further notice.
It does not seem like the county is against the facility itself, but would like more transparency as to what is actually going on. Public stadium (and arena) financing is always a controversy-tinged subject, and this facility is no different.