World Series Cash Brings Relief To St. Louis

The Texas Rangers are leading the World Series 3 games to 2 going into Game 6 Wednesday in St. Louis. The fact that the Cardinals will be playing at home is good for both the team and the town. The game will bring a welcome infusion of cash. As St. Louis Public Radio's Maria Altman reports, the unexpected sales tax revenues have already allowed the city to cancel expected furloughs for its employees.

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The World Series could end this evening. After back-to-back losses to the Texas Rangers, the St. Louis Cardinals will try to keep their championship hopes alive in St. Louis tonight. While the Cards trail the Rangers the 3-to-2 in the series, it has been a big win for Cardinals' hometown of St. Louis.

Sales tax revenue from the first two games of the fall classic and the playoff games has saved some city employees from expected pay cuts, as St. Louis Public Radio's Maria Altman reports.

MARIA ALTMAN, BYLINE: The Cardinals' losses in Texas on Sunday and Monday nights were painful for St. Louis fans to watch. But St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay sees the silver lining. The World Series is coming back to his town.

MAYOR FRANCIS SLAY: If they can win here it'd be even better, because more games here, and it's great to see the hometown team win in the hometown.

ALTMAN: And the revenue Game 6 - dare I say Game 7 - could generate for St. Louis doesn't hurt either. City officials say each World Series game played here brings about a half million dollars in additional sales tax revenue, most of it from ticket sales and concessions.

The first two games of the World Series, plus the playoff games, have brought what Mayor Slay calls a windfall, allowing him to cancel unpaid days off for city employees called furloughs. It's a cost-saving measure that would have affected 2,700 employees.

JOHN MACENULTY: No matter how you slice it, I don't have to take the furlough days. I'm thrilled.

ALTMAN: John MacEnulty has been a building inspector with the city for 16 years, and says he understood unpaid days off were a way of avoiding layoffs. He's not convinced the World Series is the sole reason for the mayor's decision but he's not complaining.

(SOUNDBITE OF CONVERSATION AND CLIP OF THE WORLD SERIES)

ALTMAN: A lifelong Cardinals' fan, he, and his wife, and two teenage daughters are in the living room of their South St. Louis home glued to the TV for the series.

MACENULTY: Woo-hoo.

ALTMAN: MacEnulty admits it's been a surprising season all around.

MACENULTY: You know, I'll be honest I was one of the people who wrote them off. I said stick a fork in them, they're done. They're not going anywhere, and then all of a sudden they started winning games.

ALTMAN: And the city's civic organizations say the Cardinals' unexpected postseason play is a boon for St. Louis businesses, including hotels and restaurants. The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission estimates more than 11,000 tourists come into the city for each World Series game, and spend about $2.6 million while they're here.

The Regional Chamber and Growth Association puts direct spending per game at more than three million dollars and, with indirect spending - such as when a beer vendor spends the money he made at the game - six million.

Patrick Rishe, a sports economist at Webster University in St. Louis, urges caution, though. He says preliminary numbers tend to run high.

PATRICK RICH: I think they represent the impact on spending, but they don't represent the impact of how much of that spending is actually coming from outside the region and is staying in the region.

ALTMAN: In other words, without more research, it's hard to know just how many people really are from out of town and bringing new revenue to St. Louis.

Dick Fleming, president and CEO of the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association, says more important than projected numbers is the good P.R. St. Louis gets from having World Series games here.

DICK FLEMING: The eyes of the world have been on St. Louis in a very positive way as a result of the Cardinals. And what a Cinderella story it would be for them to win the World Series.

ALTMAN: And sports boosterism aside, a Game 7 would certainly mean additional tax revenue for a struggling St. Louis.

For NPR News, I'm Maria Altman in St. Louis.

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