MLS: We’re Committed to SC STL if St. Louis Lands Expansion Team

MLS St. Louis Stadium rendering

MLS President Mark Abbott says that SC STL is the leading — and only — contender to land an expansion team should the soccer circuit expand to St. Louis, eliminating Foundry St. Louis‘s competing bid from consideration.

The statement from Abbott is the latest in a rapidly progressing situation that has seen SC STL laying in the weeds in recent months to recent developments that has seen the City of St. Louis obtaining an option on a 30-acre parcel that could be used for a MLS stadium and Foundry offering to pay part of the cost of the proposed $200-million downtown stadium. But as things unfold rapidly, Abbott quickly moved to clarify the league’s viewpoint on ownership groups. Not a surprise at all: MLS puts great emphasis on the pedigree of ownership groups when looking at expansion prospect, and the SC STL ownership group — led by investors with ties to the MLB St. Louis Cardinals, NHL St. Louis Blues, the minor league St. Louis FC and area businesses — certainly fit into that MLS evaluation process. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“We have worked with SC STL for over a year and we vet ownership groups very thoroughly,” Abbott said. “We have great confidence in their commitment and the capacity they have to fulfill their obligations under what’s required by the league.”

Former Anheuser-Busch president and SC STL investor Dave Peacock helped bring MLS Commissioner Don Garber to St. Louis in May 2015. Garber met with potential investors as well as Gov. Jay Nixon and toured possible stadium sites….

Kavanaugh, the founder of St. Louis FC, previously said if voters approve public funding in April, the city could have a soccer team playing in 2020 or 2021. Abbott would not comment on a time frame for league expansion, but said he hopes it can be announced soon.

Abbott said it’s still possible SC STL would have to pay an expansion fee up to $200 million. The league has yet to decide the fee for securing future teams, but Abbott previously said the amount could be that much.

While Abbott’s announcement provides some clarity to the ownership situation, it also provides some clarity to the stadium situation. SC STL and Foundry St. Louis had two different visions for a new stadium when it came to public participation, with SC STL seeking $80 million in taxpayer money for a city-owned 22,000-capacity facility. That will be a challenge, to be sure. And this doesn’t ensure St. Louis will actually land an MLS team during the next round of MLS expansion — but it certainly can’t hurt.

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