MLS Awards Expansion Team to St. Louis

Ross Houston
August 21, 2019

With Major League Soccer's team valuations and overall expansion progressing at a rapid pace, the $200 million fee paid by a St. Louis ownership group to launch a new franchise in the city may soon seem affordable, according to one sports industry veteran.

The team will play in a planned $200-million-plus, 22,500-seat soccer stadium in the Downtown West district of St. Louis that the Taylors have said will be "overwhelmingly" privately financed.

"Louis is home to the first official majority female-led ownership group in MLS, '" said Carolyn Kindle Betz, granddaughter of Enterprise founder Jack Taylor and the president of Enterprise Holdings Foundation.

The city had a long history of supporting soccer and producing pros, including USA women's national team stalwart and two-time World Cup champion Becky Sauerbrunn and MLS greats Steve Ralston and Brad Davis. "It is with great pride we welcome St Louis". According to the ownership group, no tax increment financing or any direct citywide tax investment will be needed to finance the stadium project. "Our league becomes stronger with the addition of the city's deeply dedicated soccer fans and the committed and innovative local ownership group".

"It's been a terrific year for sports in St. Louis and it keeps getting better", Blunt said in a statement. But this is a momentous occasion for MLS, the city of St. Louis, and USA soccer as a whole.

It's another significant moment in St. Louis sports history to happen in 2019. Saint Louis University has won 10 national titles in men's soccer, and the Hermann Trophy given to the top college player in the country is awarded annually at the Missouri Athletic Club.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, trumpeted the announcement, which comes two months after the St. Louis Blue hoisted the Stanley Cup for the first time.

The biggest football league in the United States is now expanding and has plans to become a 30-team division in the next few years, with Major League Soccer now having 24 teams split evenly between the Eastern and Western Conferences.

The sense of anticipation was also expressed by Dale Schilly, who has coached at the youth, collegiate and professional levels in St. Louis for 35 years. Former New England Revolution star-turned-ESPN personality Taylor Twellman, who grew up in St. Louis, emceed Tuesday's gala unveiling.

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