In 1985, the then-owner of the St. Louis
Blues hockey team contemplated relocating the team out of St.
Louis, a move that inspired members of the St. Louis business
community to formulate a plan to purchase the Blues and keep
the club in St. Louis. In 1990, however, it became evident that
the long-term viability of the Blues required building a new
hockey arena, one in which there was common ownership between
the team and the facility. Also obvious was the need to replace
the St. Louis Arena, a sixty-five-year-old building that lacked
many of the amenities needed for a first-class professional
sports team as well as to attract other events to St. Louis.
As a result, a group of major St. Louis corporations, all members
of the prominent Civic Progress organization (an organization
formed in 1953 and comprised of the chief executive officers
of the region's 26 largest corporations), formed a limited partnership
called Kiel Center Partners, LP, to develop the project.
A variety of alternative sites and ownership
structures was explored. Ultimately, the site of St. Louis'
existing municipal auditorium -- the sixty-two-year-old Kiel
Auditorium -- was selected, due to the availability of tax-exempt
financing through the Transition Rule in the 1986 Tax Reform
Act. With the formation of Kiel Center Partners, $62.4 million
in tax-exempt bonds were issued prior to the Transition Rule's
December 31, 1990, expiration date and the decision was made
to demolish the old Kiel Auditorium and Garage.
The City of St. Louis then agreed to lease
the site and assign certain development rights to Kiel Center
Partners, including a 25-year real estate tax abatement. With
site control secured in 1991 through leases with various city
agencies, arrangements were made for the city's participation
in demolition, site preparation and construction of a new
parking garage. Also in 1991, Kiel Center Partners, LP, and
Civic Progress member companies acquired 100 percent ownership
of the St. Louis Blues.
In December 1992, Kiel Center (as the building
was called then) financing was completed, with $36.9 million
in taxable debt secured by three local banks and $30 million
in equity invested by Kiel Center Partners companies (along
with guarantees for the $100 million in debt). Financing was
also completed by the city for its portion of the project,
with $10 million in tax-exempt bonds issued for site preparation
and $24.5 million in tax-exempt bonds issued for garage and
other improvements. Kiel Center Partners delivered its formal
developer readiness notice to city officials and demolition
of Kiel Auditorium and Garage officially began on December
Kiel Center opened just 22 months later
on October 8, 1994. In September 1999, Bill and Nancy Laurie
of Columbia, Mo. formed Paige Sports Entertainment and purchased
the St. Louis Blues. In June of 2006, Dave Checketts and Sports
Capital Partners were officially introduced as the new owners
of the St. Louis Blues and Scottrade Center. Sports Capital
Partners privately operates the arena under a long-term lease
agreement with the City of St. Louis.