Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion franchise St. Louis City SC has announced that its new stadium, CityPark, will make its full debut next month by staging a friendly match between City2 and a team representing German Bundesliga club Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
The match will take place on November 16, prior to the start of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. City2 is City SC’s reserve team and is currently competing in the MLS Next Pro League ahead of the franchise’s full debut in MLS next year.
A ‘soft opening’ for CityPark had been scheduled for September 18, but ultimately had to be postponed due to an internal power distribution issue at the stadium caused by unrelated construction in the local area.
“An international friendly with a (UEFA) Champions League-calibre club is the perfect way to introduce our new world-class stadium and district to our fans, the greater soccer community and the world,” said St. Louis City SC president and CEO, Carolyn Kindle.
“The Bayer 04 friendly will be the first opportunity for fans to see a match in our new 22,500-seat stadium and sample our best-in-class STLMade fan experience, which will reflect St. Louis’ diverse culinary and music scene, ahead of our inaugural 2023 season.”
Leverkusen’s parent company, pharmaceutical company Bayer Corporation, has a strong presence in St. Louis. Bayer 04 Leverkusen CEO, Fernando Carro, said: “The history of the sport in St. Louis runs deep and the passion St. Louis City SC have already built up for the inaugural season with their fans and broader community is amazing to see.
“We look forward to being part of that energy and enthusiasm with this kick-off match at the new stadium and our second trip to North America in just six months as we continue to build the Bayer 04 brand in key markets around the world.”
Earlier this week, City SC announced that its new home will no longer be called Centene Stadium, adding it is now seeking out a new naming rights partner. City SC in February unveiled healthcare company Centene as the naming-rights sponsor of its 22,500-seat stadium.
The 15-year agreement officially named the venue as Centene Stadium. The St. Louis-headquartered company also became a founding partner and the official managed healthcare provider of City SC. However, the club announced on Tuesday that the stadium will be going by a new name moving forward – CityPark.
CityPark, and its surrounding stadium district, is the largest urban professional sports campus in the U.S. and the only one with a stadium, team headquarters, and practice facility all within the same footprint.
Drawn up by St. Louis-based HOK, CityPark features an “open and welcoming architectural design” and includes a variety of amenities intended for us not just by soccer fans, including public art installations, pet-friendly spaces, bike and pedestrian pathways, greenspace and pop-up shops and restaurants.