Report: St. Louis MLS Expansion Bid to be Approved

St. Louis MLS stadium rendering

MLS will announce approval of a St. Louis MLS expansion bid next week, according to a report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

St. Louis’s bid is backed by a group led by members of Enterprise Holding’s Taylor family, including Carolyn Kindle Betz, and Worldwide Technology CEO Jim Kavanaugh. Plans call for a new $250 million stadium west of Union Station in downtown St. Louis (rendering above), with all previous indications being that it will be primarily financed through private funds.

According to the Post-Dispatch, MLS is set to announce that it is awarding an expansion club to St. Louis. The paper cited multiple anonymous sources, reporting that an event in St. Louis has been planned for next Tuesday. More from the Post-Dispatch:

Sources spoke on condition of anonymity, as the St. Louis ownership group and MLS have not publicized the announcement.

Plans have been made for an event Tuesday in St. Louis.

MLS leaders declined comment Wednesday.

The ownership group released a statement: “Major League Soccer is responsible for the timing of any announcements around League expansion, but we remain confident St. Louis has made a strong case for a team.”

Some details, including the final stadium financing plan, remain unknown at this time. Final approval of the bid would represent a significant victory for St. Louis, a market that MLS officials have eyed for years and that has had a void in its major sports scene since the NFL’s Rams relocated to Los Angeles after the 2015 season.

In recent months, St. Louis has been seen as a leading expansion contender alongside Sacramentowhose chances were seemingly boosted earlier this year with the addition of Ron Burkle as lead investor, along with additional local approvals for its downtown stadium plan. Discussions between the Sacramento group and MLS continue, though some details still apparently need to be settled. More from the Sacramento Bee:

“We are in daily discussions with Major League Soccer as we finalize the agreement to bring an expansion club to Sacramento,” Sacramento Republic said in an email statement. “We are deeply appreciative of the ongoing efforts of Commissioner Garber, his MLS colleagues and owners, the Republic FC investor group and Mayor Darrell Steinberg, as we work in unison to get the deal done for our city and our incredibly patient fan base.”

Team president Ben Gumpert declined further comment.

St. Louis has been targeting a 2022 launch, and at this rate would be MLS’s 28th team. There are 24 clubs competing in the 2019 season, with Nashville and Miami set to join in 2020, followed by Austin in 2021. MLS has confirmed that it plans to grow to 30 teams in the future, though an intriguing field of contenders could prompt discussions about a 32-team league.

Rendering courtesy HOK and Snow Kreilich Architects.

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August Publications