St. Louis ownership group announces sweeping plans for MLS expansion bid

St. Louis downtown stadium rendering - aerial view - November 17, 2016

A Missouri-based ownership group announced on Thursday a sweeping plan to pursue an MLS expansion team for St. Louis – and a new downtown, soccer-specific stadium for the club to call home.

Known as SC STL, the group will fund much of the construction of the stadium project, which is estimated to cost just under $200 million. SC STL will also fund the entire MLS expansion fee as established by the league as well as the acquisition of the Saint Louis FC USL team, the famed St. Louis Scott Gallagher youth club and World Wide Technology Soccer Park to create a holistic soccer organization and build a developmental pipeline of homegrown soccer talent from the youth to professional ranks.

SC STL is led by chairman and lead owner Paul Edgerley, formerly of Bain Capital and currently a partner with VantEdge Partners. The group's executive committee includes vice chairmen Jim Kavanaugh, the CEO of World Wide Technology and the founder of USL side Saint Louis FC, and Edgerley's VantEdge colleague Terry Matlack. Also serving on the executive committee is Dave Peacock, a former president of Anheuser-Busch.

Other investors include: 

  • Bob O’Loughlin, Chairman and CEO of Lodging Hospitality Management in St. Louis
  • John Sherman, Vice Chairman of the Cleveland Indians and former CEO of Inergy LP
  • David Gross-Loh, a Managing Director at Bain Capital
  • Robert Hermann Jr., whose family is the namesake of college soccer’s Hermann Trophy and whose family name is affixed to the Saint Louis University’s on-campus soccer stadium
  • Jim Powers, President and CEO of UniGroup (United Van Lines)
  • Steve Maritz, Chairman and CEO of Maritz Corporation
  • Thomas Roberts, Managing Director, Summit Partners

“With its rich soccer heritage, St. Louis has always been a market of great interest to Major League Soccer and SC STL is the ideal ownership group that will provide St. Louis the best opportunity for a future expansion team,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement.

“We have had very productive meetings with lead investor Paul Edgerley and his partners and will continue to do so as they work to bring an expansion team to St. Louis. Their downtown site is the ideal location for a new stadium and we look forward to helping them make it a reality.”

According to the release, MLS officials are targeting a visit to St. Louis in December 2016 to meet with ownership, local officials, soccer fans and visit the stadium site. Commissioner Garber previously visited the city in May 2015.

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A view inside the proposed SC STL stadium from the west upper deck. Photo via HOK

The proposed stadium, which would feature views of downtown St. Louis, would be located just west of St. Louis Union Station, about a mile from the Gateway Arch and Busch Stadium. The site encompasses over 24 acres of property currently controlled by the Missouri Department of Transportation that will be converted from the current highway entrance and exit ramps to usable land when new interchanges are introduced in several years to accommodate the relocation of the National Geospatial Agency.

SC STL holds an exclusive option to purchase the property, which is accessible via the city's Metro Link train system, through an agreement with the Land Clearance and Redevelopment Authority of St Louis.

Preliminary plans for the stadium, designed by St. Louis-based HOK, call for a capacity of approximately 20,000 seats with the ability to expand to 28,500 seats.

“Having played soccer here in high school, college and professionally, I know the passion and loyalty of the St. Louis soccer fan and what having an MLS team would mean to St. Louis, one of the great soccer cities in the United States if not the world,” Kavanaugh said in the club statement. “The opportunity to bring an MLS team to St. Louis, in a manner that will energize and re-imagine our downtown core, is a privilege for me as well as my partners.”

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Another aerial view rendering of the proposed SC STL stadium. This view to the West illustrates the front of the facility at Market and Union Station. Photo via HOK

SC STL, which replaces the former MLS2STL exploratory committee, has come together over nearly eight months during which meetings were held with MLS executives and team owners, local and regional officials, St. Louis business leaders and national sports industry experts.

The prospective St. Louis ownership group revealed they have had discussions with Missouri state officials for assistance with site development and infrastructure, primarily using traditional economic development tools available through the state. The group is also working with the city of St. Louis on securing funding contingent on a public vote in April 2017.

SC STL stated they will continue working with local authorities on plan details and gaining fan input on aspects of the project.

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The downtown St. Louis site plan featuring the proposed SC STL stadium. Photo via HOK