Wednesday’s (5/20) St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, “On May 3, 1991, following a concert by the St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra, the Kiel Opera House went dark. Now, 18 years and a half-dozen false starts later, there’s legitimate reason to hope the floodlights might shine again. Taxpayers would pick up most of the tab, albeit indirectly. The city of St. Louis is in serious negotiations with a group led by St. Louis Blues’ managing partner David W. Checketts, who wants to reopen the opera house as a performing arts center. The $74 million opera-plus house would be funded with a combination of private equity ($16 million); tax credits ($28.6 million) and $29 million in revenue bonds, issued by the city and backed by proceeds from the 5 percent tax on tickets for events at the adjacent Scottrade Center, which is controlled by Mr. Checketts and his partners.” The article debates pros and cons: “The entire region gains when downtown St. Louis thrives. … That said, they’re asking taxpayers to bear 78 percent of the deal’s cost. By comparison, the Ballpark Village developers are asking for 30 percent from the public.” The all-volunteer Saint Louis Philharmonic Orchestra currently performs in venues throughout the community.

Posted May 21, 2009