That adjusted date of arrival, announced by the league last month, is a year later than originally planned. While some may be disappointed to wait an extra year, it provides St. Louis’ fledgling organization with some welcome breathing room.
“I think for about 10 minutes we were sad, because almost a year ago we were saying 2022. But I think in partnership and collaboration with MLS headquarters, we really realized that we were going to have to make some adjustments,” majority owner Carolyn Kindle Betz told MLSsoccer.com this week, noting that the new timeline may have already opened some doors in terms of building partnerships.
“And truthfully, I think there's an even greater sense of urgency. We've had some of our corporate sponsors pick up the phone and call us [saying], we want to start this all over again now that we know that there's not a deadline.”
St. Louis City’s downtown stadium project and adjacent training complex, for which ground was broken in February, remain on course for completion in 2022. Kindle Betz said that construction crews have adapted well to additional COVID-19-imposed safety regulations and joked that “a lot of people in the city are driving down to see the massive hole in downtown” that will someday be home to their new club.
“Our stadium will have been open for a couple months, we will have held events [ahead of the inaugural MLS match],” she said. “I like to say we'll break it and see what we need to repair before. And so that first match experience, I think, just got elevated to a level that we don't even know, because we have time that we can do it right.”
With St. Louis a well-known youth soccer hotbed, the club also plan to spend extra time and consideration on that phase of their arrival.
“It's really going to give us that opportunity to continue to develop the brand,” said Kindle Betz, “really work on our academy system, make sure we recruit talent, but also put us in such a fantastic position for that first match.”
The next milestone is likely the hiring of a chief soccer officer.
“The only update I can give is that it’s coming soon,” said Kindle Betz a few hours ahead of Thursday’s brand unveiling. “We really wanted to make sure we got through today and had time to celebrate and reorganize thoughts. But I think the good news is we're back on the hiring side of things, our chief revenue officer is making some hires, our marketing team is going to make some hires. So I think that in itself is exciting, to bring in some new talent and really move this thing forward.
“On behalf of the ownership group and the entire team,” she added, “I just want to thank the fans, thank them for being patient, loyal and supportive, because without them I'm not sure we would have gotten as far as we have and we hope that they will continue to support us and we hope that we don't let them down.”