Now that NFL football is officially dead in St.Louis, the city that gave birth to soccer in America, can now focus on Bring a Major League Soccer franchise. The night the NFL announce the Rams were moving back to L.A., Merritt Paulson, owner of the Portland Timbers, tweeted MLS2STL and quickly became a popular hashtag on twitter. Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated and SI.com interviewed several MLS coaches, General Manager and asked one question: among the places that don’t have an MLS team, where would you like to see the MLS go and why? All of them unanimously picked St.Louis to be the city that deserves a team.
But despite the soccer history, since 1977 St.Louis, has lost 7 different Professional Soccer teams from the St.Louis Stars of the old North American Soccer League (NASL) and four Indoor Soccer teams. In 2009 Saint Louis Athletica a Professional Women’s Soccer team, that had notable Goal Keeper Hope Solo, folded after one season while A.C. St.Louis a 2nd division team under the United States Soccer Federation, that included both the United Soccer League and the newly formed North American Soccer League folded after the end of the 2010 season. Most of it was because St.Louis soccer franchises played in very unstable leagues like the NASL, Major Indoor Soccer League, National Professional Soccer League, Word Indoor Soccer League and the Women’s Professional Soccer. In the case of A.C. St.Louis, Saint Louis Athletica, Jeff Cooper who started both of these clubs was hardly nowhere to be found and the team folded under unmanageable financial strain.
So how can St.Louis get a Major League Soccer team?
1) Fan Support: One of the things that League Officials from Major League Soccer will be looking at is fan support. Saint Louis FC will begin its 2nd season under the United Soccer League which is a Minor League Soccer team that’s affiliated with the Chicago Fire. It is important for fans in St.Louis to come out in droves for the upcoming 2016 season and, show their support of the team. Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, Orlando and Montreal all got their start under the United Soccer League and were awarded a Major League Soccer team partly because of fan support.
2) Investors/Owners: Expansion fees for a Major League Soccer team cost $100 million dollars Dave Peacock, who was the driving force in trying to Keep the Rams in St.Louis with his stadium proposal, is rumor to have secured investors/owners for an MLS team. Jim Kavanaugh who currently is the Chairman of Saint Louis FC told KSDK sports reporter Frank Cusumano that in order for a Major League Soccer team to happen in St.Louis it needs to be in a similar in fashion in the way how the St.Louis Blues are run under Tom Stillman with 12 investors. Hopefully one of them is the Taylor Family who owns Enterprise Car Rentals in Clayton MO and who are worth 9.1 Billion dollars.
3) Stadium: Originally Dave Peacock along with Bob Blitz proposed to build a 1.1. billion dollar stadium at the North Riverfront to Keep the Rams in St.Louis. A Soccer Specific Stadiums cost between $80 million to 200 million. With the Rams leaving, the North Riverfront can still be revitalize without public financing for a new stadium.
4) Politicians: One of the reason why the Stadium proposal failed is that St.Louis City Leaders and County Leaders don’t often agree and don’t get alone with one another. Both City and County Leaders needs to put whatever differences they have in an effort to Bring Major League Soccer to St.Louis.
St.Louis has a case to for a Major League Soccer team if all of the following list that I wrote comes into fruition. Just because St.Louis has a strong history soccer an expansion franchise from Major League Soccer is not given. It is earned by supporting Saint Louis FC, attracting investors/owners, a stadium plan and politicians coming together. This is the only way to truly make St.Louis the soccer capital in America.