ST. LOUIS – St. Louis has its MLS franchise in hand, but the next item on the club’s priority list may be just as challenging.
For Jim Kavanaugh and the rest of the ownership group, almost everything depends on the stadium.
“The next priority, at a high level, is to finalize the land and the specific design of the stadium,” Kavanaugh said at Tuesday’s formal announcement, which will make the city home to the league's 28th team in 2022.
The stadium, designed to accommodate up to 25,000 fans, will sit on the western edge of downtown. It will serve as the terminus of a sports corridor anchored in the east by Busch Stadium, the nest of the MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals, and Enterprise Center, home of the 2019 Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues.
“We have to get the stadium process moving as fast as we possibly can,” Kavanaugh said. “That’s really what’s going to drive everything to our projected season opener in 2022.”
The architectural stadium partners, Snow Kreilich Architects and St. Louis-based HOK, unveiled stadium renderings in April. The rectangular design surrounds a field 40 feet below street level. A translucent canopy will cover the seats. A mixed-use area of retail stores, restaurants and gathering spaces are planned adjacent to the stadium. The stadium will be financed overwhelmingly by private funds.
Another high-priority item, Kavanaugh acknowledged, is filling out the top spots in the team’s organization chart.
“Concurrently with the stadium, we’re going to build out our leadership team,” Kavanaugh said. “We are already talking to a number of people to do just that.”
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Some of the items more likely to concern fans – the team’s name and colors, for example – also occupy slots on St. Louis’ to-do list. The team’s investors have promised “to engage fans and supporters at several points” in the development of a name and colors. A media handout at Tuesday’s announcement noted that season-ticket reservations will follow the finalization of stadium details.
Significant for St. Louis fans is that the team will not sell public seat licenses (PSLs), a sore subject for local PSL owners when the NFL’s Rams relocated to Los Angeles in 2016 after being in St. Louis.
“The team name and colors and other such items are works in progress,” Kavanaugh said. “All of that we’ll be working on at the same time as the stadium and leadership team. But those last two things are the ones we are looking at the most now.”