Two prominent figures on the St. Louis soccer scene want to bring a professional outdoor team back to the city, The Riverfront Times reported on Tuesday, and a place in MLS is their ultimate goal.
Tony Glavin, who owns and coaches the St. Louis Lions PDL team, and Andrew Haines, owner of the St. Louis Ambush indoor team, told RFT that they have begun the process of founding a USL PRO club with an eye towards a 2015 debut.
The duo launched a new website to gauge local interest by requesting contact info and ticketing preferences from would-be fans, and they make no secret of their long-term goal: following in the footsteps of the five former USL clubs who have moved up to MLS.
"We felt the timing was right," Glavin said. "This has always been my goal. I think the area has been crying out for something … St. Louis has a rich history in soccer. We want to capture that.
"This area would like to see an MLS team," he added. "If we do have a USL team, part of our initiative is to connect with an MLS team. If we're going to invest in a USL professional team, we want to build a foundation with the potential to go beyond USL."
Known as the cradle of American soccer, St. Louis has been a hotbed of the sport for decades. A large chunk of the underdog 1950 US World Cup team hailed from the city, as well as a long list of past and present MLS standouts including Steve Ralston, Taylor Twellman, Brad Davis and Will Bruin.
The city has also given a warm welcome to international exhibitions, with matches featuring Chelsea, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Inter Milan drawing bumper crowds last year. The area's large Bosnian-American community has also turned out in numbers to support visits from their mother country's national team.
But St. Louis' last two professional outdoor teams met grim fates. AC St. Louis joined the second division in 2010 (which was a combined league operated by U.S. Soccer that year called the USSF Division 2 Professional League) with plans to compete in NASL the following season, but was shut down because of severe financial problems.
The same ownership group operated Saint Louis Athletica, a member of the now-defunct Women's Professional Soccer league that folded in midseason in 2010 for similar reasons.
"The timing wasn't right," said Glavin of AC St. Louis, which drew only modest crowds during its short existence.
Glavin and Haines have yet to decide on a home venue for their new undertaking, and have not ruled out the possibility of constructing their own facility.