Major League Soccer (MLS) has awarded its 28th franchise to the city of St. Louis, with the team set to kick-off in a new stadium in 2022.
The owners of the St. Louis club include Enterprise Holdings Foundation president Carolyn Kindle Betz and six other female members of the Taylor family, which owns Enterprise Rent-A-Car, making it the first female majority-owned club in MLS history, and one of few in professional sports.
“Our ownership group has come a long way since we first announced our bid last October at Mathews-Dickey Boys and Girls Club, and it’s an incredible feeling to now be able to say, St. Louis is home to the first official majority female-led ownership group in MLS,” said Betz.
“Our MLS team and stadium will only add to St. Louis’ renaissance currently underway and will provide us with a great opportunity to bring together many different segments of the community, uniting people in their love for the game.”
St. Louis’ club and its new downtown soccer stadium are central elements of a major development project in the Downtown West district of the city. In addition to the stadium, the development will include mixed-use retail, restaurants and gathering spaces open year-round to the public.
Yesterday’s (Tuesday’s) announcement comes after a bid from a previous ownership group was scuppered back in 2017, when a city referendum voted against channelling $60m (£49.4m/€54.1m) in new tax proceeds towards the construction of a stadium.
In April, MLS4TheLou revealed its 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 reckoned to be at the forefront for the 28th and 29th franchises. 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.
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.
With the addition of the MLS team in St. Louis, 18 clubs have joined the North American league since 2005. Commenting on St. Louis’ addition, MLS commissioner Don Garber said: “St. Louis is a city with a rich soccer tradition, and it is a market we have considered since the league’s inception.
“Our league becomes stronger today with the addition of the city’s deeply dedicated soccer fans, and the committed and innovative local ownership group led by Carolyn Kindle Betz, the Taylor family, and Jim Kavanaugh.”