St. Louis closer to constructing new MLS facility for franchise

St. Louis MLS

An abstract of the upcoming MLS stadium and its vicinity near Union Station in downtown St. Louis. (MLS4THELOU/Facebook photo)

ST. LOUIS (Ambush Sports) — St. Louis is edging closer to giving the green light for a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise to come to the Gateway City, which includes for the construction of a $461 million stadium complex.

An aldermanic committee passed two bills Wednesday, moving on to the 28-member Board of Aldermen for a full vote.

Mentioned in the meeting were the returns of millions of dollars in investments by the ownership group vying for the franchise, but also the abatement of property taxes for the term of 25 years.

Parking was also a talking point in the meeting. Developers stated that the facility would hold 40-50 events annually, so it really doesn’t warrant the construction of a parking garage, citing that there is enough parking in the downtown area and adjacent to the stadium. They also stated that there would be enough accommodations for public transit.

Two more votes will be required on the issue, before reaching the full legislative body, who is expected to vote on the bills on February 28.

With approval, the construction project can begin.

Video from FOX affiliate KTVI in St. Louis:

The timeline to St. Louis

2007: St. Louis was considered as a possible relocation candidate for Real Salt Lake after the club founder David Checketts stated he would sell the club if a new stadium wasn’t built in place of their current accommodations at Rice-Eccles Stadium on the campus of the University of Utah.

2008-09: A potential ownership group in St. Louis, led by local lawyer Jeff Cooper attempted to bring an MLS expansion franchise to the greater St. Louis metropolitan area. Both bids would be turned down in favor of other cities, ultimately with RSL deciding to construct a new stadium in Sandy, Utah, now known as Rio Tinto Stadium. MLS was not impressed with the financial backing of the bids, despite approval to construct a $600 million soccer complex in the Metro East city of Collinsville, Ill., and was advised to expand his group of investors.

2010-11: Jeff Cooper launched a second division men’s club, AC St. Louis, and a women’s professional soccer franchise, Saint Louis Athletica. The former played only one season in Division 2 before folding, and the latter folded midway through its second season in 2010.

Late 2014: St. Louis announced plans to construct a new stadium to host football and soccer events, as the then-St. Louis Rams were making demands to improve the infrastructure at the then-dubbed Edward Jones Dome at America’s Center.

January 2015: Don Garber stated in an interview that “St. Louis has got a lot of activity going on with a stadium that they’re trying to get done for the NFL Rams. There’s a big soccer community out there, and we’d love to see a soccer stadium downtown like they’re thinking about a football stadium.”

May 2015: Garber visited St. Louis to discuss the construction of a possible multi-purpose stadium capable of hosting soccer games and had hinted that any possible expansion to St. Louis would happen after 2020.

January 12, 2016: After the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission and the St. Louis Rams failed to agree to negotiations, the Rams organization relocated to Los Angeles after playing in the Gateway City for two decades. The relocation accelerated continued talks of an MLS expansion team.

2017: MLS began consideration of adding a new franchise in St. Louis, beginning in 2020. The proposed ownership group sought public funds to help construct a $200 million stadium exclusive to soccer next to Union Station in downtown St. Louis. A funding plan was approved January 26 by the city’s Aldermanic Ways and Means Committee and by the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, which would have directed $60 million in taxpayer dollars to the new stadium, but was rejected by voters in an April 4 referendum, leaving the MLS franchise future in doubt.

September 2018: An article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on a meeting between MLS representatives and officials from the Missouri Department of Economic Development regarding a stadium proposal. Lyda Krewson, St. Louis mayor, later confirmed that a new ownership group was trying to bring a franchise to St. Louis

October 9, 2018: A new ownership group, led by Carolyn Kindle Betz and other heirs to the Enterprise Rent-a-Car fortune as majority owners, relaunched the bid for the MLS to expand the league to St. Louis, with the stadium location still slated to be the same as the original 2016 proposal, near Union Station.

November 28, 2018: The St. Louis Board of Aldermen’s Housing, Urban Development, and Zoning Committee unanimously voted 8-0 to approve the stadium plan.

August 20, 2019: Officials from MLS announced that St. Louis would become the league’s 28th franchise and will be expected to join in the 2022 season. The ownership group, comprising of Kindle Betz and female members of the Taylor family, became the first female majority-owned franchise in MLS history.

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