Don Garber Visits St. Louis Amidst MLS Expansion Push

MLS St. Louis Stadium rendering

During a visit to city on Monday, commissioner Don Garber had some complimentary words about St. Louis and its ongoing MLS expansion push. 

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 proposal 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.

With MLS still planning to grow beyond 27 teams (24 competing this season, plus three to launch in the coming years), Garber visited the city on Monday to meet with leaders of the bid as well as members of the region’s business community. St. Louis’s bid has been in need of major corporate support, which Garber noted, but the commissioner nonetheless came away with favorable words about what he saw during his visit to the city. More from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Commissioner Don Garber lunched with more than two dozen chief executives and business owners from some of the largest companies in St. Louis, and called the show of support for a local franchise “fantastic and remarkable.”

“I think it’s fair to say that it was among the largest or, certainly, the most prominent group of ‘C-level’ leaders in any visit that I’ve had,” Garber told the Post-Dispatch, speaking of the chief executives.

Still, he said, proposed owners Jim Kavanaugh, chief executive of World Wide Technology, and Enterprise Holdings’ Taylor family must nail down corporate sponsorships, and quickly, to prove to the league’s other 27 owners that the St. Louis market can support a team.

“It would really help their bid if they had stadium naming rights and a jersey sponsor in place,” Garber said. “So there is a specific level of financial corporate support.”

St. Louis has certainly become a more intriguing candidate in light of the revived bid, which has given the city renewed hopes after the previous bid’s request for a public funding contribution toward a new stadium was rejected by voters in April 2017. However, there are still plenty of questions about how the MLS expansion process is going to unfold from here, and a few competing bids are strong as well. That includes Sacramento, which announced in January that it had landed Ron Burkle as a much-needed lead investor.

Rendering by HOK reflects stadium proposal from previous bid. 

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