Congratulations, St. Louis! According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the city has successfully thrown enough money around and greased the right wheels to win economic promotion to MLS!
A joint statement from the league and the ownership group is expected next week to formally announce the city’s purchase of a spot in the league. The new St. Louis franchise is tentatively set to begin play in 2022. It looks like St. Louis will follow a recent trend in MLS, adopting USL club Saint Louis FC’s identity rather than conjuring a new one from thin air. At least, that seems to be the consensus, given the presence of Jim Kavanaugh, currently Saint Louis FC’s CEO, in the bid.
Perhaps more importantly, St. Louis’s MLS team has what appears to be a pretty solid stadium deal that shouldn’t rob the city’s taxpayers blind in its construction. Compared to FC Cincinnati’s terrible stadium deal, the plans for St. Louis’s new venue are downright generous. After asking for $80 million and then $60 million from the city to build the downtown stadium—both of which were rejected, the first through political maneuvering and the latter in a public vote by a 53-47 margin—the ownership group came back with a deal that would require no public funding whatsoever. Additionally, the stadium would be owned by the city, and its maintenance costs would be covered by a tax on tickets and items sold within the stadium. Remember that the next time billionaires cry poor and try to guilt a city into giving them free money.
Of course, as we have seen time and time again, proposals are not reality, but it does seem like St. Louis will get the benefits of an MLS team without the financial drawbacks that have plagued other cities. If the stadium’s construction goes off as planned, the 22,500-seat venue could become a blueprint for how to join MLS without screwing over your city and your soon-to-be fanbase.
Either way, with St. Louis set to officially become the 28th MLS team once it begins play, MLS will now turn its eyes towards the remaining two expansion slots as part of its commitment to bloat all the way into a 30-team league. Sacramento has long been rumored to be a lock for one of them, but the last spot doesn’t have a clear frontrunner. Recent reports have put Las Vegas in the lead, which would be fitting. What could be a better symbol of MLS’s grasping excess than plopping a summertime soccer team right in the middle of the desert?