Friday, 20 September, 2019

MLS awards expansion franchise to St. Louis

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper wants to bring MLS to Charlotte Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper wants to bring MLS to Charlotte. Scott Cunningham Getty Images
Shannon Reynolds | 21 August, 2019, 08:26

When the team begins play as expansion side in 2022, it will be the first MLS franchise majority owned by women. Thanks to a willingness to fund stadium construction nearly entirely with private funds, and with a site located in the Downtown West district, St. Louis was back in the game. Garber showed himself pleased and excited with the announcement and welcomed the latest franchise with open arms.

The team will play in a planned $200-million-plus, 22,500-seat soccer stadium in the Downtown West district of St. Louis that the Taylors have said will be "overwhelmingly" privately financed. Kindle Betz is the granddaughter of rental auto magnate Jack Taylor and the president of the Enterprise Holdings Foundation.

While this decision has been rumoured for some time, it is still an exciting moment, both for the MLS community and that in St. Louis, as Carolyn Kindle Betz, who will lead the ownership group, was keen to portray. Besides Enterprise Holdings executive chairman Andy Taylor, and World Wide Technology CEO Jim Kavanaugh.

"I think it's going to do very well, not only just in metro St. Louis, but obviously in the suburbs and in Southern Illinois".

Local interest in soccer among fans in St. Louis, which has served as home to several pro teams and the storied St. Louis University soccer program over the last several decades, should provide a strong base for the MLS' latest experiment, according to Ryan.

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"Our MLS team and stadium will only add to St. Louis' renaissance now underway and will provide us with a great opportunity to bring together many different segments of the community, uniting people in their love for the game".

"It is with great pride that we welcome St. Louis to Major League Soccer", Garber said in a statement.

St. Louis has deep ties to soccer.

The stadium is part of a major development project that will include mixed-use retail and restaurants.

MLS has long desired to have a team in St. Louis, given the sport's long history in the Gateway City. "St. Louis is the birthplace of soccer in this country, and today's announcement was built on the shoulders of tens of thousands of players born and bred in St. Louis over the last 140 years". Former New England Revolution star-turned-ESPN personality Taylor Twellman, who grew up in St. Louis, emceed Tuesday's gala unveiling.

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