St. Louis’ chances of landing a Major League Soccer expansion franchise have suffered a major setback after voters in the US city rejected a proposal to fund the building of a new stadium.
Citizens voted on two propositions. One related to funding a public transportation expansion with an increase in sales tax, and another sought to allocate $60m (£48m/€56.3m) towards the stadium project.
Both measures needed to be passed for the stadium project to move forward, but the second proposition was rejected by voters, with 53 per cent voting against the proposal, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper. Proposition 1 passed.
St. Louis had been considered one of the favourites to land an MLS franchise, and the league’s commissioner Don Garber visited St. Louis last week to endorse the SC STL group’s plans to form a franchise in the city.
Following last night’s vote, MLS issued the following statement: “For many years we have believed that St. Louis would be a tremendous market for a Major League Soccer team, but the lack of a positive stadium vote is clearly a significant setback for the city’s expansion opportunity and a loss for the community.
“We deeply appreciate the efforts of Paul Edgerley, Jim Kavanaugh and their partners to bring Major League Soccer to St. Louis. They were focused on creating a plan that benefited the community at no cost to St. Louis City residents while bringing the fastest growing professional league in North America to the region.”
MLS plans on adding two new teams by the 2020 season, with an announcement expected to be made later this year.
The league currently comprises 22 teams after Minnesota United and Atlanta United joined the competition for the 2017 season. Los Angeles FC will make its debut next year, while talks between MLS and a David Beckham-backed Miami team have been ongoing for some time.