St. Louis MLS stadium
A rendering of the proposed MLS stadium in St. Louis
|Location||Downtown West, St. Louis, Missouri|
|Public transit||Metrolink: Union Station|
|Owner||St. Louis Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority|
|Operator||St. Louis MLS team|
|Broke ground||January 2020 (planned)|
|Construction cost||$250 million|
|St. Louis MLS team (MLS) (2022–)|
The St. Louis MLS stadium is a proposed 22,500 seat soccer-specific stadium to be built in St. Louis, Missouri for the yet-to-be-named Major League Soccer expansion franchise in St. Louis. This stadium will be built next to Union Station in the city's Downtown West neighborhood. The stadium is scheduled to be completed by the start of the 2022 MLS season.
In February 2016, MLS began the search for a downtown site that could house a soccer-specific stadium. One of the locations surveyed had previously been intended for a stadium for the St. Louis Rams before the football team moved back to Los Angeles.
On February 17, an exploratory group of local businessmen calling itself "MLS2STL" formed with the goal of bringing an MLS franchise to St. Louis. Among its members were St. Louis Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III, UniGroup President Jim Powers, St. Louis Blues CEO Chris Zimmerman, Saint Louis FC owner Jim Kavanaugh and Dave Peacock, former President of Anheuser-Busch who had recently co-chaired the unsuccessful NFL stadium task force.
On November 18, the group, now called "SC STL", unveiled a proposal for a $200 million stadium, to be built on 30 acres (12 ha) of land owned by the Missouri Department of Transportation. The proposal included a request for $80 million in public money, not counting potential additional land purchases. At the same time, the full prospective ownership group was also unveiled, led by Paul Edgerley, the former Managing Director of Bain Capital in Boston, and including Peacock, Powers, and Kavanaugh from the original exploratory group.
On December 19, Missouri governor-elect Eric Greitens came out against any public funding for the project, calling it "nothing more than welfare for millionaires." Edgerley said that without public funding, it would be "hard to get" an expansion franchise in St. Louis. A competing prospective ownership group, Foundry St. Louis, offered to pay the $80 million public portion if they were allowed to join SC STL's bid for MLS expansion. SC STL later asked for $40 million in state funds, but Greitens reiterated his opposition to any public contribution from the state, either tax credits or direct subsidy.
The project was endangered in January 2017 when Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia withdrew the proposal to put the $80 million public contribution to a vote. Ingrassia said that SC STL was "asking for way more than I feel like we could support here in the city."
Public funding vote
By the end of January, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen revised the stadium bill, this time with a public contribution reduced to $60 million. It was passed on February 3, after the 10-week statutory cutoff before the public vote, requiring a judge's approval to be placed on the ballot. That approval came on February 9, when St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Michael Mullen issued a ruling allowing the city election board to add two funding measures to the city ballot.
With the city contribution on its way to the voters, SC STL formally applied for an MLS franchise on January 31, 2017.
The stadium proposal was brought to a public vote on the April 4, 2017 general municipal ballot, where it was defeated 53% to 47%. This defeat was seen as being potentially fatal to SC STL's efforts to bring MLS to St. Louis. However, there were reports indicating that St. Louis' bid for an MLS franchise was still active. 
On October 9, 2018, the group "MLS 4 The Lou" announced a new proposal to build a soccer-specific stadium on the same land next to Union Station. The new ownership group was led by the Taylor family, founders of St. Louis based Enterprise Holdings, and Jim Kavanaugh, CEO of St. Louis based World Wide Technology and USL Championship side Saint Louis FC owner. The Taylor family members forming the group would make the team majority-owned by women, the first in the league and one of few ownership groups majority-controlled by women in all of professional sports. Given Kavanaugh's stake in both the MLS bid and Saint Louis FC, it is likely that the new MLS team will inherit the Saint Louis FC identity, similar to other recent MLS expansions.
Unlike previous proposals, the ownership group did not ask for any public funding for the stadium. The stadium would be privately funded and owned by the City of St. Louis, with upkeep funded by a tax on tickets and items sold at the stadium. The group is in negotiations for a break on the city’s 5-percent “amusement” or ticket tax charged for sporting events, an arrangement similar to deals given to the city’s other professional sports franchises.
Construction of the stadium is pending the award of an MLS franchise. On January 15, 2019, MLS announced Austin FC as the 27th franchise in the league, to begin play in 2021. This followed speculation that the St. Louis bid would be awarded a franchise at the December 2018 meeting of the MLS Board of Governors. The league had previously stated it planned on expanding to 28 teams in the next few years, and the St. Louis bid appeared to be the front runner for the last bid. The bid met all of criteria put forth by MLS, including a solid financial backing, local government support, a strong soccer fan base, and a downtown Soccer-specific stadium with access to public transit.
On April 18, 2019, the MLS Board of Governors approved a proposal to expand to 30 teams. This was followed shortly by the release of new stadium renderings. The new stadium will feature a grass pitch 40 feet (12 m) below street-level, surrounded by two tiers of seating totaling 22,500 seats (with the ability to add an additional 2,500), topped with a clear plastic awning to keep out weather while keeping in crowd noise and avoiding disrupting shadows on the pitch. The stadium appears to be designed with maximizing crowd noise in mind. Every seat will be within 120 feet (37 m) of the pitch, the closest of any stadium in Major League Soccer.
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