Editorial (November 18, 2016) – For the first time since Saint Louis FC began play in USL in 2015, there is a clear path to MLS expansion. An ownership group known as SC STL has sweeping plans for an MLS expansion bid.
#MLS2STL: SC STL Ownership Group Plans Stadium, Saint Louis FC Expansion To MLS
They have reportedly acquired USL side Saint Louis FC, their famed youth academy affiliate St. Louis Scott Gallagher, and World Wide Technology Soccer Park. Club founder Jim Kavanaugh will stay on as vice chairman of the group’s executive committee. The group also has plans to build a $200 million 20,000 seat soccer specific stadium just a mile from down town St. Louis.
The group plans to meet with MLS officials next month. They will need to get approval for the stadium project and funding (public money, reading between the lines) from the public. That initiative will be voted on in April 2017. There are also many infrastructural requirements that the group will need to plan for in the Union Station area.
Joining Forces With Saint Louis FC:
We’ve seen other MLS Expansion cities have trouble with this. A lower division team exists. An ownership group comes in with a lot of money, wants an MLS team, and chooses to do it independent of the existing team. Atlanta United FC is partially responsible for the death of the Atlanta Silverbacks. There’s a potential conflict between Dan Gilbert‘s ownership group and Detroit City FC. At one point, the Minnesota Vikings were opposing Minnesota United FC for the Twin Cities getting an expansion team.
Jim Kavanaugh and the ownership at Saint Louis FC have done a great job building a USL team from the ground up. They’ve got a great training facility. They joined forces with Scott Gallagher, one of the best independent academies in the Midwest (possibly the country). The club just hired Preki for Pete’s sake. The USL team was headed in the right direction.
Kavanaugh et. al. have always been clear that they were not MLS or bust like some other USL expansion teams. They want to be a solid stable franchise. If other investors came along, and they could work out a healthy deal, they’d pursue MLS. It’s clear now they’ve found that.
This partnership will bridge the grass roots movement of Saint Louis FC and the St. Louligans to SC STL as they move forward into MLS.
MLS2STL Is Not A Done Deal Yet:
Several hurdles still remain for this group. It’s unclear as of now how much public funding they are looking for or will need. There’s no details on what exactly the public will be voting for in April. The lack of support financially from the public helped kill the riverfront stadium that would have kept the St. Louis Rams in town. A $200 million stadium is still much cheaper than a $900 million stadium.
That said, the public still has to approve it. And transportation, water-and-sewer, etc. will need to be constructed. This announcement is a gigantic step in the right direction, but it’s not done yet. That said, if SC STL pulls this off, this will be the best expansion bid MLS has seen from a #USLRising generation team. Yes, better than Sacramento Republic FC‘s bid.
How To Build An MLS Powerhouse:
Hey, SC STL, start investing in the academy. With the right resource allocation, Saint Louis FC could have an academy system that rivals the best in MLS. The club already signed a few Youth Player contracts to the USL team last season. They’ve also acquired a PDL side to be their affiliate. If SC STL starts focusing on the academy NOW, they’ll be MLS ready by the time the first team takes the field. If not sooner.
Secondly, if and when an entrance year is decided, take a good hard look at contracts of players and coaching staff. Let’s say the club enters MLS in 2020. By the end of 2018, if Preki is killing it, lock him down with a new contract that will make him their first head coach as an MLS team. Do the same thing with players that are in great form.
With a year or so to go until expansion happens, start pursuing potential Designated Players. St. Louis has a noticeable Bosnian population. Perhaps there’s a Bosnian international who would want to come play for the club and live in Little Bosnia. Also look at St. Louis natives who are playing in MLS who might want to come play closer to home. Those might be ideal targets for a potential Expansion Draft.