St. Louis MLS stadium

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St. Louis MLS stadium
St. Louis MLS stadium.jpg
A rendering of the proposed MLS stadium in St. Louis
LocationDowntown West, St. Louis, Missouri
Coordinates38°37′52″N 90°12′39″W / 38.631052°N 90.210921°W / 38.631052; -90.210921Coordinates: 38°37′52″N 90°12′39″W / 38.631052°N 90.210921°W / 38.631052; -90.210921
Public transitTram interchange Metrolink: Union Station
OwnerSt. Louis Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority
OperatorSt. Louis MLS team
TypeSoccer-specific stadium
Capacity22,500
SurfaceGrass
Construction
Broke groundFebruary 2020
Opened2022 (expected)
Construction cost$250 million
ArchitectHOK
Tenants
St. Louis MLS team (MLS) (2022–)
Website
https://mls4thelou.com/

The St. Louis MLS stadium is a proposed 22,500 seat soccer-specific stadium to be built in St. Louis, Missouri for the yet-to-be-named Major League Soccer expansion franchise in St. Louis. This stadium will be built next to Union Station in the city's Downtown West neighborhood.[1] The stadium is scheduled to be completed by the start of the 2022 MLS season.

History[edit]

Original proposal[edit]

In February 2016, MLS began the search for a downtown site that could house a soccer-specific stadium. One of the locations surveyed had previously been intended for a stadium for the St. Louis Rams before the football team moved back to Los Angeles.[2]

On February 17, an exploratory group of local businessmen calling itself "MLS2STL" formed with the goal of bringing an MLS franchise to St. Louis. Among its members were St. Louis Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III, UniGroup President Jim Powers, St. Louis Blues CEO Chris Zimmerman, Saint Louis FC owner Jim Kavanaugh and Dave Peacock, former President of Anheuser-Busch who had recently co-chaired the unsuccessful NFL stadium task force.[3]

On November 18, the group, now called "SC STL", unveiled a proposal for a $200 million stadium, to be built on 30 acres (12 ha) of land owned by the Missouri Department of Transportation. The land was the site of off ramps from Interstate 40 that were the remnants of a 3.3-mile-long North-South Distributor Highway that was never built.[4] The proposal included a request for $80 million in public money, not counting potential additional land purchases.[5][6] At the same time, the full prospective ownership group was also unveiled, led by Paul Edgerley, the former Managing Director of Bain Capital in Boston, and including Peacock, Powers, and Kavanaugh from the original exploratory group.[7][8]

Opposition and failed public funding vote[edit]

On December 19, Missouri governor-elect Eric Greitens came out against any public funding for the project, calling it "nothing more than welfare for millionaires."[9][10] Edgerley said that without public funding, it would be "hard to get" an expansion franchise in St. Louis.[11] A competing prospective ownership group, Foundry St. Louis, offered to pay the $80 million public portion if they were allowed to join SC STL's bid for MLS expansion.[12] SC STL later asked for $40 million in state funds, but Greitens reiterated his opposition to any public contribution from the state, either tax credits or direct subsidy.[13]

The project was endangered in January 2017 when Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia withdrew the proposal to put the $80 million public contribution to a vote.[14] Ingrassia said that SC STL was "asking for way more than I feel like we could support here in the city."[15]

By the end of January, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen revised the stadium bill, this time with a public contribution reduced to $60 million.[16][17] It was passed on February 3, after the 10-week statutory cutoff before the public vote, requiring a judge's approval to be placed on the ballot. That approval came on February 9, when St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Michael Mullen issued a ruling allowing the city election board to add two funding measures to the city ballot.[18][19]

With the city contribution on its way to the voters, SC STL formally applied for an MLS franchise on January 31, 2017.[20]

The stadium proposal was brought to a public vote on the April 4, 2017 general municipal ballot, where it was defeated 53% to 47%.[21] This defeat was seen as being potentially fatal to SC STL's efforts to bring MLS to St. Louis.[22] However, there were reports indicating that St. Louis' bid for an MLS franchise was still active. [23]

Revived proposal and construction[edit]

On October 9, 2018, the group "MLS 4 The Lou" announced a new proposal to build a soccer-specific stadium on the same land next to Union Station.[24] The new ownership group was led by the Taylor family, founders of St. Louis based Enterprise Holdings, and Jim Kavanaugh, CEO of St. Louis based World Wide Technology and USL Championship side Saint Louis FC owner. The Taylor family members forming the group would make the team majority-owned by women, the first in the league and one of few ownership groups majority-controlled by women in all of professional sports.[25] Given Kavanaugh's stake in both the MLS bid and Saint Louis FC, it is likely that the new MLS team will inherit the Saint Louis FC identity, similar to other recent MLS expansions.

Unlike previous proposals, the ownership group did not ask for any public funding for the stadium. The stadium would be privately funded and owned by the City of St. Louis, with upkeep funded by a tax on tickets and items sold at the stadium. The group is in negotiations for a break on the city’s 5-percent “amusement” or ticket tax charged for sporting events, an arrangement similar to deals given to the city’s other professional sports franchises.[26]

The proposal had had widespread support from public officials, including Missouri Governor Mike Parson, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, and former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger.[27] The bid met all of criteria put forth by MLS, including a solid financial backing, local government support, a strong soccer fan base, and a downtown Soccer-specific stadium with access to public transit.[28]

On April 18, 2019, the MLS Board of Governors approved a proposal to expand to 30 teams.[29] This was followed shortly by the release of new stadium renderings.[30] On August 20, 2019, MLS announced it had approved St. Louis as the league's 28th franchise with the team expected to join in the 2022 season.[31] Construction on the stadium site began in February 2020 with the closure of the exit 39 and 38B ramps that crossed the site.[32]

Design[edit]

The new stadium will feature a grass pitch 40 feet (12 m) below street-level, surrounded by two tiers of seating totaling 22,500 seats (with the ability to add an additional 2,500), topped with a clear plastic awning to keep out weather while keeping in crowd noise and avoiding disrupting shadows on the pitch.[33] The stadium appears to be designed with maximizing crowd noise in mind. Every seat will be within 120 feet (37 m) of the pitch, the closest of any stadium in Major League Soccer.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "MLS receives 12 applications by expansion submission deadline". si.com. Sports Illustrated. January 31, 2017.
  2. ^ Hunn, David. "Major League Soccer to begin search for downtown St. Louis stadium site immediately". stltoday.com. St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  3. ^ Hunn, David. "Local business leaders form Major League Soccer exploration group". stltoday.com. St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  4. ^ O'Malley, Beth. "Those soon-to-close Highway 40 ramps are remnants of a never-built north-south highway". STLtoday.com. Retrieved March 6, 2020.
  5. ^ Faulk, Mike. "MLS group reveals plan for $200 million stadium downtown". stltoday.com. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  6. ^ Clancy, Sam. "MLS reaches verbal agreement to bring expansion team to St. Louis". KDSK. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  7. ^ Straus, Brian. "Prospective St. Louis MLS expansion team names ownership group". si.com. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  8. ^ "MLS OWNERSHIP EXECUTIVES BACKGROUIND (sic)". St. Louis FC. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  9. ^ "Missouri's governor-elect: St. Louis MLS stadium plan is 'welfare for millionaires'". Planet Futbol. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  10. ^ Coreschi, Colton. "Missouri Governor-elect opposes public funding for St. Louis MLS stadium". SBI. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  11. ^ Ortiz, Jose de Jesus. "Ortiz: Would $80 million derail MLS expansion in St. Louis?". stltoday.com. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  12. ^ "Second St. Louis group criticizes public financing of MLS stadium". espnfc.com. ESPN. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  13. ^ Faulk, Mike. "Greitens: 'I have completely ruled out state funding for stadiums'". stltoday.com. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  14. ^ "St. Louis bid to join MLS in doubt as stadium funding plan is dropped". ESPN FC. ESPN. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  15. ^ Faulk, Mike; Addo, Koran. "St. Louis soccer stadium funding bill is dead". stltoday.com. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  16. ^ Faulk, Mike. "New life emerges for St. Louis soccer stadium". stltoday.com. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  17. ^ "Aldermen fine-tune new soccer stadium funding plan; vote down Scottrade renovations". fox2now.com. Fox 2 St. Louis. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  18. ^ Rosenbaum, Jason. "Judge paves way for St. Louis soccer stadium, MetroLink initiatives on April ballot". St. Louis Public Radio. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  19. ^ Faulk, Mike. "Judge puts St. Louis soccer stadium, MetroLink expansion tax on ballot". stltoday.com. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  20. ^ "St. Louis Ownership Group Applies for MLS Franchise". St. Louis FC. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  21. ^ "Measure for public funding for MLS stadium defeated in St. Louis". si.com. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  22. ^ "Stadium Measure's Defeat Likely Ends St. Louis' MLS Chances". The New York Times. Associated Press. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  23. ^ "St. Louis' bid for an MLS franchise still active". St. Louis Post Dispatch. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  24. ^ "MLS4THELOU". mls4thelou.com. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  25. ^ Barker, Jacob. "Soccer gets another shot in St. Louis as family that owns Enterprise launches bid for MLS team". stltoday.com. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  26. ^ Hunn, David. "Tax breaks for St. Louis soccer stadium up for board vote this week". stltoday.com. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  27. ^ Barker, Jacob. "Soccer gets another shot in St. Louis as family that owns Enterprise launches bid for MLS team". stltoday.com. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  28. ^ Rodriguez, Alicia. "MLS Commissioner Don Garber visits expansion candidate St. Louis". MLS Soccer. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  29. ^ MLSsoccer Staff (April 18, 2019). "MLS announces plans to expand to 30 teams".
  30. ^ Hunn, David. "St. Louis soccer stadium shapes up as a sleek square, first renderings show". stltoday.com. Retrieved April 22, 2019.
  31. ^ "MLS Adds St. Louis as League's 28th Team". The New York Times. August 20, 2019. Retrieved August 20, 2019.
  32. ^ reports, From staff. "Five Highway 40 (I-64) ramps to close permanently on Feb. 3 for new soccer stadium". STLtoday.com. Retrieved March 6, 2020.
  33. ^ Rosano, Nick (April 20, 2019). "St. Louis MLS expansion bid releases proposed stadium renderings".