There is a constant drive to expand the sport of soccer in the United States. Major League Soccer’s is also committed to providing the growing number of local soccer fans with clubs and stadiums. Thus the announcement was made this week that the town of St. Louis has been added as the 28th club in the league.
A Long and Winding Road to Success
During 2017, St. Louis had a bid to be included in MLS, but what it meant at that stage was a $60 million expense, paid out of tax revenue to be able to build a stadium. Using a referendum, the voters denied the payment. This was terrible news for the investment group which was at that stage in the process of getting a soccer club in St. Louis, Paul Edgerley. They ended up giving up on efforts, and the bid went cold.
Recently Carolyn Kindle Betz in her capacity as president of Enterprise Holdings Foundation started working with Jim Kavanaugh, the new CEO of World Wide Technology, to make this dream a reality. Kavanaugh is no newbie to the process since he was already involved during 2017 when he was still at Paul Edgerley. St. Louis is a town with a high soccer culture and getting their stadium would make sense. Therefore Betz and Kavanaugh as well as Andy Taylor, the executive chairman at the Enterprise Group, worked over many weeks with the rest of the Taylor family as owners of the club and the MLS, to achieve success. The main difference between now and 2017 is that the group has secure the majority of the funds needed for the construction of the stadium, from private funding.
The Future of St. Louis
The stadium is set to be built in Downtown St. Louis and the club will be based at this soccer-specific stadium. The stadium will also bring along some residential development with a new real estate development to be built surrounding the stadium. Even though the club of St.Louis will only join the MLS ranks in 2022, they are immediately set to work on a name, logo and team colours.
Regularly women are making a more and more impressive mark on the front of international professional sports. This is such a moment. The club of St. Louis’s ownership belongs to Betz, Kavanaugh and the Taylor family. Six women are in the Taylor family, and including Betz, this is the first club to join MLS which is predominantly female-owned.
The Change in the US Soccer Scene
Over time the increase in MLS expansion fee has risen dramatically. From when New York City FC joined MLS in 2013 for a $90 million payment, it now is estimated at $240 million. This is due to the increasing popularity of the sport in the US. Crowds are growing, and sponsorships are getting more profitable. It is indeed an era in US soccer history where it has become a lucrative investment to own a club.