The group seeking to bring a Major League Soccer expansion franchise to St. Louis has revealed plans for a stadium that could hold up to 25,500 fans, as MLS outlined its strategy to expand to 30 teams in the coming years, with the Missouri city and Sacramento at the forefront for the 28th and 29th franchises.

The announcement from the MLS4TheLou ownership group on Saturday came after the League’s statement on Thursday. With a seating capacity of approximately 22,500 to 25,500, the proposed open-air stadium has been designed through a partnership between Snow Kreilich Architects and HOK.

Designed as a multi-purpose venue, the stadium will be centrally located in St. Louis Downtown West. It will sit within a resurgent corridor downtown that will ultimately connect The Gateway Arch to Forest Park, two of the city’s most iconic civic spaces.

The pitch will sit 40-feet below street level creating what is aimed to be a unique urban footprint with a below-ground-level playing field for a one-of-a-kind MLS fan experience. Increasing the rake of the bowl brings all fans closer to the action. Every seat will be within 120 feet of the pitch, while the closest seats sit just 20 feet from the touchline.

The stadium design will be open to the north and east, creating a strong visual connection to the surrounding Downtown West District and surrounding neighbourhood. The stadium will feature a translucent ETFE canopy which will provide covering for fans and allow for well-lit spaces. Light will be able to pass through the canopy and directly onto the field, helping game day visibility and grass growth.

The roof form will seek to serve as an iconic landmark as visitors approach downtown St. Louis from the west. MLS4TheLou is primarily led by members of the Taylor family, which owns Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and World Wide Technology CEO Jim Kavanaugh.

Carolyn Kindle Betz, president of Enterprise Holdings Foundation, said in a statement: “With Major League Soccer’s announcement that the league will expand to 30 teams, combined with being able to share our initial stadium design plan, we are inching closer to making this a reality for St. Louis.

“Over the last six months, we’ve visited numerous MLS stadiums to review designs and learn best practices in order to be as thoughtful as possible to our proposed stadium here in St. Louis. While they’re still a work-in-progress, we’re excited to finally give fans a glimpse at our proposed stadium.”

MLS detailed the vision for its next round of expansion on Thursday, with commissioner Don Garber confirming that the expansion fee for each of the next two teams – 28 and 29 – will be $200m (£154.4m/€178.4m).

Although the board didn’t select any markets, it authorised the commissioner’s office to advance discussions with St. Louis and Sacramento. Ownership groups representing the two markets are expected to make formal presentations to the MLS leadership and the league’s expansion committee during the second quarter of 2019 with a decision expected in the coming months.

Earlier this month, Sacramento Republic released revised plans for a new stadium that it hopes will secure the club MLS status. Garber on Thursday hinted that Sacramento is ahead of St. Louis with its planning, but added: “St. Louis has a terrific ownership group and a long history of supporting the beautiful game.

“During our visit to St. Louis last month, we came away very impressed with the corporate community’s support for a potential expansion team, and we believe the downtown site is the ideal location for a soccer stadium.

“We know there is still important work that needs to be completed to secure the stadium site before an expansion team could be awarded to St. Louis, and our expansion committee looks forward to meeting with the ownership group.”

Images: MLS4TheLou/HOK