Major League Soccer is one of the biggest sports programs in the country, comprised of 23 teams. St. Louis is one of the biggest sports cities in America. These two factors make what many would agree is a perfect match.
Currently, St. Louis is home to STLFC, a USL semi-professional team. St. Louis FC agrees that while St. Louis is the home of soccer in America, it has been missing a professional team for almost 30 years. That may change soon, with the plan that is being proposed to bring a professional soccer team back to St. Louis.
Back in 2016, St. Louis made a push, but failed. The difference this time is that a stadium and team would be privately funded. A group of business owners in St. Louis consisting of the Taylor family of Enterprise and Jim Kavanaugh, co-founder of World Wide Technology.
The potential owners are proposing a $250 million stadium, with a capacity of 20,000 people.
“The stadium if we are successful will be located just west of Union Station and just south of Market Street,” said Tom Strunk, CFO of World Wide Technology.
This location was chosen in hopes of contributing to the revival of Union Station. It would also put all of the major sports teams stadiums on the same street. In Mid November the owners sent in the plan for the team to the Board of Alderman, who represent the people at the city and county level, for approval. The first time, the proposal was placed on the ballot. This time, the owners went straight to the board for approval.
The process of obtaining an MLS team is complicated. The MLS considers several factors before sanctioning a new team. This includes, a committed local ownership group that believes in what Major League Soccer is trying to do and the resources financially to support and maintain a team. They then take into account the history of support for soccer and other sports, and look at whether the location is capable of enticing sponsors and television partners. The final thing to consider is an in-depth stadium plan that proves the team will have a true home for the fans and players, while also being a city that can attract outside attention.
The biggest obstacle would be supporting the team financially. Even with billion dollar companies backing the team, there are still financial difficulties.
“There’s a number of ways it can impacts the city and the state economically as well as our overall community,” said Strunk.
With a new team in St. Louis this would draw in hundreds of people to our city. Affecting more than just the people, it would help revive the city itself.
“It would draw people to the city, before and after games the bars and restaurants would be filled, so it would bring a lot of influx of money into the city,” said St. Louis FC Defender, Sam Fink in an interview with Mehlville Today.
Ticket sales, merchandise sales, and several other things are considered when seeing if they are supporting a team successfully. Many may ask, how much will season tickets cost for the new team? The average price of an MLS season ticket is $378 according to SB Nation. The cheapest tickets being $272, and the most expensive being $468.
As of November 28, 2018 the Board of Alderman unanimously passed the tax incentive plan needed to bring a team to St. Louis. According to the STL Post Dispatch, the ownership group was drilled with several questions about stadium finance, maintenance, construction worker pay and the undecided cost of stadium ownership. Although it passed City Alderman approval, it still needs to pass State Alderman approval before being finalized.