I refrained from the flurry of #MLS2STL activity that sprang up following the formal announcement of the Ram’s move to LA. I’m not disposed to participating in those ‘excitable’ events and there wasn’t anything new being discussed that hadn’t already been part of the conversation in recent years, except possibly for the ‘news’ that a number of Major League Soccer coaches considered St. Louis their top choice for future expansion. Something that is 5-10 years out if it were to come to fruition.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) January 20, 2016
But then SpaceSTL chimed in.
St. Louis has an incredible opportunity to build a physical manifestation of its position as America’s greatest sports city. With the significant investment in Union Station by Lodging Hospitality Management (LHM), and the continued success of both the Scottrade Center and Busch Stadium, we envision an MLS stadium as the bookend to Clark Avenue, the “Greatest sports street in America”.
Our self-initiated stadium development study consists of the stadium, tower, retail/residential infill, and tower on the gateway mall. We always start with the notion that individual buildings should do their part to improve the city, in whatever capacity possible.
As the image above shows, one of several that can be seen in much higher resolution on SpaceSTL.com’s website, the opportunity is there to create on a smaller scale the same result that Kroenke is targeting in LA – a mixed use environment anchored by a sports stadium. SpaceSTL.com has advanced the discussion and opportunity by showing how a stadium could be constructed downtown by an organization already committed to rebuilding an iconic location.
Gaining a Major League Soccer franchise requires a stadium and an ownership group (LAFC has 22 owners) What might an ownership group look like in St. Louis?
The starting point is in place – Lodging Hospitality Management (LHM) is the landlord for the new World Wide Technology HQ’s building at Westport Plaza. They are also tied to Saint Louis FC as a sponsor/partner. The two organizations already have the necessary working relationship to anchor such an effort.
However, Saint Louis FC has emphasized from the beginning their intentions did NOT include pursuing a Major League Soccer franchise but to merely bring professional soccer at the Division 3 level back to St. Louis. Given their need to ask for donations to restore Soccer Park following the recent flooding, it would seem likely that they are not prepared to be part of an MLS ownership group although once in place, a partnership similar to what they have with the Chicago Fire would be very simple. Especially since it seems the current relationship is a one year contractual relationship, having been recently renewed per STLFC.
We’ve agreed to extend our relationship with Chicago. Formal announcement coming soon – excited about the new staff! https://t.co/yKtkZkIBWi
— Saint Louis FC (@SaintLouisFC) January 7, 2016
So while that leaves us in a similar situation to the past – we need an ownership group and urban stadium – I congratulate SpaceSTL.com for their contribution to moving the discussion forward and look forward to hearing from LHM on their take related to these suggestions. A commitment to pursue these plans further would be the necessary first step in this “chicken and egg” conversation that would offer substantive steps towards assembling an ownership group. Maybe a fan-owned team like the Green Bay Packers?