Missouri soon will be able to flash some cash at the organizers of big-time sports events in hopes of competing against other states for the rights to host NCCA tournament games, Olympic trials and the tourist spending that goes with them.
Gov. Jay Nixon signed legislation Friday authorizing up to $3 million annually of tax credits for organizations and local governments that host amateur sporting events. He also signed a bill reinstating several state tax credits for donations to charitable organizations such as food pantries and centers that aid abused children.
The tax breaks for benevolent donations took effect immediately upon Nixon's signature. The legislation authorizing the sports incentives won't officially become law until Aug. 28, but local sports authorities could immediately begin incorporating the promised tax breaks into their marketing pitches.
The new incentives could be added to pending bids by the St. Louis Sports Commission to host the Olympic swimming trials in 2016 and the Southeastern Conference men's basketball tournament in 2017 or 2018.
"It gives us greater ability to compete with communities across the country and to bring in major amateur sporting events that will be very lucrative to the communities that host those events and to the state," said Marc Schreiber, vice president of marketing and development for the St. Louis Sports Commission.
"You're talking about millions of dollars in new tax revenue and visiting spending," Schreiber said.
State Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, said his legislation "will encourage broad economic activity while still having a positive return on investment for taxpayers."
Under the measure, local governments or nonprofit organizations that compete with other states to host amateur sports events can receive state tax credits equal to $5 for every ticket sold. The tax credits could be sold, allowing recipients to convert them to cash to offset costs for such things as renting facilities and providing security and transportation for athletes, officials and others involved in the event.
Schreiber said the subsidies could allow event organizers to make more competitive bids, perhaps by offering to let a sports association such as the NCAA keep a larger percentage of the ticket sales.
Some lawmakers who voted against the measure earlier this month expressed skepticism about the need for sports incentives, noting St. Louis and Kansas City both hosted major college basketball tournaments this March.
Nixon signed the sports incentives bill without comment Friday, though he traveled to a food bank in Cape Girardeau to publicize his enactment of the other bill.
The new law reinstates tax credits for food pantry donations that expired in August 2011. It also renews tax credits that expired last August for donations to pregnancy resource centers and to organizations that provide services to children who are abused, neglected or in the state foster care system.
Donors can receive tax credits worth half the value of their contributions, which Nixon said can help leverage donations and decrease the need for state expenditures.
"Continuing to move our state forward means making sure we don't leave our most vulnerable citizens behind," Nixon said in a written statement.
Other tax credits gaining renewal under the bill offer benefits to surviving spouses of deceased public safety officers and to people who make improvements so their homes are accessible to the disabled.
The legislation extends all those tax credit programs through 2019.
But the bill also eliminates tax credits for parents who adopt children from outside of Missouri, leaving the benefits in place only for the adoption of Missouri children who have "special needs." The tax credit is intended to help cover nonrecurring adoption costs, such as home visits and legal fees, and is limited to $10,000 per child.