Jim Kavanaugh Confident in St. Louis MLS Expansion Push

St. Louis MLS stadium rendering

As one of the leaders of a bid to bring an MLS expansion club to St. Louis, Jim Kavanaugh is expressing confidence in the effort.

Kavanaugh, the CEO of World Wide Technology, is one of the key people behind St. Louis’s MLS bid, along with Carolyn Kindle Betz and other members of Enterprise Holding’s Taylor family. The group’s pitch is centered around a proposal for a new downtown soccer-specific stadium at a site west of Union Station, renderings for which were just recently released.

The group’s effort has made St. Louis one of the strongest contenders for an MLS expansion slot, but there are still plenty of areas that need to be addressed for the bid to be successful. Among those are funding for the stadium project, as well as corporate support–particularly in the form of a stadium naming-rights partnership and jersey sponsorship.

While acknowledging that the group has plenty of work remaining, Kavanaugh sounded confident during a recent interview, even saying that he did not “see any major impediments that will blow this up.” More from St. Louis Public Radio:

“I don’t see any major impediments that will blow this up. We still have details to work through that we need to make sure that we do the right amount of due diligence going through this, and we need to do it quickly,” he said.

Kavanaugh added that the group will present a formal plan to the MLS expansion committee within the next four to six weeks, including key details that finalize the land deal and corporate sponsorships for the stadium as well as the team’s jerseys. While he said he could not release the name of potential sponsors, he added that the group held a lunch with just under 30 CEOs when MLS Commissioner Don Garber visited St. Louis last month….

At one point, a key part of the plan included an expansion of the city’s Port Authority District, which would have allowed for a 1% sales tax on particular development projects. But earlier this month, the Board of Aldermen did not consider the measure.

“On one hand, it almost seemed like that potentially could really derail everything that we’re doing, and that’s not the case,” he said. “You know, I think that would have been a nice thing if they were able to do that, and I think there’s a chance maybe they still figure that out.” 

Resolving the aforementioned issues relating to stadium funding and corporate backing are vital to the city’s expansion hopes, and backers of the MLS bid will surely want to pin them down sooner rather than later. The current St. Louis MLS push has put together a solid case so far, however, and league officials have spoken highly of the market in recent years. This effort has also revived St. Louis’s MLS hopes, which seemingly stalled in April 2017, when city voters rejected a proposed public funding contribution to a stadium plan that was included in a previous bid.

Rendering courtesy HOK and Snow Kreilich Architects.

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