There are heavy hitters expressing interest in investing in a new St. Louis MLS team, including local business and sports-industry leaders — and maybe former St. Louis Ram Chris Long.
The group, which calls itself MLS2STL, includes sports-industry leaders Bill DeWitt III, president of the St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Blues CEO Chris Zimmerman. On the business side, the group features World Wide Technology CEO Jim Kavanaugh, UniGroup President Jim Powers, former NFL task force co-chairman Dave Peacock, local hotelier Bob O’Loughlin, FleishmanHillard Senior Vice President Jim Woodcock and Vicky Lynch of Lynch Sports and Events.
Now, not every one of these folks will be an investor in any potential St. Louis MLS team or stadium but they’re interested enough to fund a market feasibility study, as well as research into stadium and financing options. There is already a leading candidate: the St. Louis north riverfront site selected by the NFL task force charged with keeping the Rams in town. The reasons why the site would work for a billion-dollar NFL stadium — size, accessibility, potential of adjacent development — are also key pluses for any new stadium for a St. Louis MLS team.
For their part, MLS officials seem enthusiastic about the effort, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
[MLS Commissioner Don] Garber blessed the effort on Wednesday, saying in a statement that he was “pleased to see many prominent business and sports leaders becoming involved in the efforts to bring a Major League Soccer team to the downtown area.”
We look forward to working with the group to further evaluate St. Louis and see if it is ready for an MLS expansion team,” Garber continued.
Garber said earlier this month that MLS would spearhead the stadium search and funding efforts. On Thursday, Woodcock called the relationship between the group and MLS “collaborative.”
And that group may be growing. Former Ram Chris Long, release by the the team offseason, says he’s interested as well. Long is a soccer fan, and he sees opportunities. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
But when it comes to a potential MLS expansion franchise in St. Louis, the former Rams defensive end no longer sounds like he’s joking.
“I gotta explore it,” Long told the Post-Dispatch Monday. “I think it’d be pretty cool. I think St. Louis has got a good soccer fan base; a good market for that.
“I don’t want to impose. (They) can reach out to me. I’m definitely looking for ways to stay involved there.”
Rendering dates from a previous effort to bring MLS to St. Louis; it does not reflect any current plans.