St. Louis MLS Expansion Bid Looks for Corporate Support

St. Louis MLS stadium rendering

Acting on the advice of league officials, backers of a St. Louis MLS expansion bid will be working to bolster support from the business community. 

The current St. Louis MLS expansion pitch, led by members of Enterprise Holding’s Taylor family and World Wide Technology CEO Jim Kavanaugh, has gradually gained momentum over the last several months. It features a facility concept that calls for the construction of a soccer-specific stadium west of Union Station in downtown St. Louis, with that plan receiving preliminary approval for tax incentives in December.

Having deep-pocketed investors and an intriguing stadium plan has helped raised St. Louis’s profile in the MLS expansion race, but the group has more work to do as it pursues a club. After a meeting with MLS officials last Thursday, Kavanaugh and Enterprise Holdings Foundation president Carolyn Kindle Betz stressed that corporate support in the form of major partnerships is one of the areas that the group must bolster going forward. That could include partnerships for areas such as stadium naming rights and jersey sponsorship. More from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

As of today, the St. Louis bid lacks key sponsorship commitments for the stadium and the front of the team uniform, a marquee spot in soccer.

“There are things we need to do,” Kavanaugh said. “And we need to move things forward in what we consider is a reasonably expeditious way. We want to bring Commissioner Garber and his team in, and walk through and really address that we can demonstrate that the city, the sponsors, the businesses are really behind this, and see this being something that’s very important to the city of St. Louis, that it fits well and creates a level of synergy with all of the other economic activity that is taking place downtown….

And before you ask, this sponsorship challenge is not as simple as Enterprise or World Wide Technology slapping their names upon a stadium and shirts.

“One of the things Commissioner Garber was saying was, to have other partners on board is a better, healthier way to go,” Kindle Betz said. “Having different corporations that are willing to make a multi-year commitment to this project, what better way to say, ‘We believe in St. Louis. We believe in the growth. We believe in the sport.’ From a corporation’s point of view, there should also be a civic pride piece.”

The group has helped revive St. Louis’s MLS hopes, which seemed to all but evaporate after the previous bid’s request for a public funding contribution toward a new stadium was rejected by voters in April 2017. However, corporate support is one area in its bid that must be addressed, especially as other contenders in the mix–including Sacramento, which recently landed Ron Burkle as a lead investor–work to bolster their own cases.

Rendering by HOK reflects stadium proposal from previous bid. 

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August Publications