New Ownership Group Announces Bid for Major League Soccer in St. Louis

The proposal is heavily privately financed, with no request for citywide tax revenues or tax increment financing.

October 09, 2018 - 10:49 am

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - A new, St. Louis-based ownership group on Tuesday announced plans to bring a Major League Soccer club to St. Louis, reviving a public push for soccer in the city that fell short last year.

The ownership group is led by Carolyn Kindle Betz, who is Senior VP of Enterprise Holdings and Executive Director of the Enterprise Holdings Foundation, and six other female members of the Taylor family.

"A new St. Louis MLS team would be the first female majority owned club in the league’s history and one of the few in all professional sports," according to a news release.

Andy Taylor, Executive Chairman of Enterprise Holdings, and Jim Kavanaugh, CEO of World Wide Technology, complete the ownership group.

The preferred site for an open-air soccer stadium sits adjacent to Union Station in downtown St. Louis. The release says the stadium also would be available for concerts, high school and collegiate tournaments, soccer camps and family shows.

Kavanaugh says the "architecture" of the new stadium has not yet been completed, and this will not be the same stadium that was first proposed in 2016. 

The proposal is heavily privately financed, with no request for citywide tax revenues or tax increment financing, according to the release.

Both city and state officials are involved in the discussions, "which could include incentives such as abatement of the city amusement tax or “user taxes” that allows for the collection of some tax revenue from only those who attend events."

"It is correct that if you go to the game that you might pay an additional three cents on your $1 hot dog," says St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson. "But I think only those folks buying those hot dogs or a T-shirt will be paying that."

Related: St. Louis County in Discussions to Help Pay for a Downtown Soccer Stadium

“We envision an MLS team as yet another way to increase the energy and momentum to an already wonderful city that means so much to us,” says Andy Taylor in the release. “The addition of a third major league team speaks to our desirability as a place to work, live and play. St. Louis is a major league city that deserves the many benefits that come with an MLS club.”

Related: New Hope For MLS Expanding to St. Louis

A news conference was Tuesday afternoon at the Mathews-Dickey Boys and Girls Club in St. Louis. Watch the full announcement here: 

The group is using the slogan #MLS4THELOU.

The push for pro soccer in St. Louis began in 2016, led by an ownership group with local business leaders Dave Peacock and Jim Kavanaugh, and Boston-area businessman Paul Edgerley.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber stated St. Louis would likely be accepted into the league if a new stadium was agreed to be built. The St. Louis group, called SC STL, offered to pay $95 million of the propsed 22,000-seat stadium. They also offered to cover maintenance and operations costs for 30 years, and pay the $150 million MLS expansion franchise fee.

A proposition on the 2017 April ballot asked for $60 million in public funding. It failed by about 3,300 votes in the highest turnout for an April St. Louis election in decades. 

Major League Soccer will grow to a total of 26 teams when Cincinnati, Nashville and Miami begin play in the coming years. MLS has formally stated its goal of adding another two expansions in the future, with a number of cities in the running, including St. Louis, Phoenix, Detroit, Charlotte, Las Vegas and San Diego.