Though the city’s MLS hopes have taken a major setback, Saint Louis FC believes it has a viable future going forward.
Earlier this year, St. Louis officially submitted its MLS expansion bid and proposed a new downtown stadium that would have been partially funded by a $60 million public contribution. The proposal for public funds was put up for referendum in April, only to be rejected by city voters.
That leaves numerous questions going forward about whether St. Louis can become an MLS market. The city does, however, continue to support Saint Louis FC, its USL club.
Currently playing at World Wide Technology Soccer Park’s Toyota Stadium in suburban Fenton, MO, St. Louis FC has played in the USL since 2015. Fan support for the team has been steady over the years, and the organization did factor into MLS plans. Had the expansion proposal moved forward, Saint Louis FC and St. Louis Scott Gallagher youth league would have been brought into one organization, something that appealed to MLS officials.
Though the rejection of the MLS bid scraps that plan, Saint Louis FC still believes it has a bright future. General manager Jeremy Alumbaugh says that the club is still poised to not only provide a quality product, but to help grow the city’s soccer scene. More from St. Louis Public Radio:
Alumbaugh doesn’t think St. Louis has any hope of getting an MLS team to the city now, but that’s not going to disrupt plans for Saint Louis FC going forward.
“From the get-go, we’ve said we didn’t start St. Louis FC to bring MLS here,” Alumbaugh said. “That was never our driver. Our driver was to bring something back to St. Louis that was gone for so many years: high-level professional men’s soccer in a quality soccer stadium.”
Alumbaugh said he’d have to wait for the dust to settle over the stadium vote to know exactly what the future may hold for Saint Louis FC.
“But our task and mission has been to provide something for this growing millennial city of St. Louis, for the soccer strong city of St. Louis and to have something for young players to aspire to do,” Alumbaugh said. “That’s something we’ll continue to do regardless if we are an MLS club or not.”
While the referendum’s outcome was certainly not the result MLS backers were hoping for, Saint Louis FC still seems to be in a position to add to the city’s soccer scene.
Image courtesy Orlando City SC via uslsoccer.com.