We end 2018 with a countdown of the 10 biggest stories of the year on Soccer Stadium Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #6: St. Louis’s MLS hopes are revived by a new bid.
When a measure for public funding toward the cost of a new stadium was voted down by residents in April 2017, it appeared that St. Louis’s MLS expansion hopes were effectively over. In fact, the city seemed to drop off the expansion radar completely until this year, when a new bid led by members of Enterprise Holding’s Taylor family and World Wide Technology CEO Jim Kavanaugh emerged with a different stadium funding model.
The stadium plan that voters rejected in 2017 called for $60 million in public funding toward the construction of a new stadium on land west of Union Station in downtown St. Louis. The same site would be used in the Taylor-Kavanaugh proposal, but the group is prepared to pay $250 million in cash for the stadium’s construction. However, it is seeking a series of tax incentives as part of the overall funding model and calling for public ownership of the facility.
Thus far, there appears to be support among elected city leaders, as the St. Louis Board of Aldermen voted at the end of November to begin the process of awarding tax incentives for the project. By making that decision, officials awarded preliminary approval for the tax incentives, but the city will not completely commit an incentive package until the potential ownership group lands a team.
Going forward, St. Louis has a few intriguing advantages. The leaders of the new bid have found political support for their plan thus far, and St. Louis has a void in its sports scene–created by the move of the NFL’s Rams to Los Angeles in 2016–that could be filled by MLS.
League officials have also spoken highly of the market in the past, though a few unknowns remain. MLS has not announced a timeline for the next round of expansion and, with plans for a new Austin club and stadium moving forward, it remains to be seen whether the league will go beyond 28 teams. (Austin would be team #27 or #28, leaving just one spot if the league stops expansion at 28.)
St. Louis, and all other MLS expansion contenders for that matter, will have to wait and see how the process unfolds and how their bids compare to the rest of the field. This year, however, has brought new hopes for MLS expansion in St. Louis, with a new ownership and modified funding plan making it an intriguing option going into 2019.
Rendering by HOK reflects stadium proposal from previous bid.
Here’s our Top Ten of 2018 to date: