St. Louis ownership group releases proposed MLS stadium renderings

This is what the new Sacramento Republic FC stadium will look like at downtown railyard

Sacramento Republic FC released on April 3, 2019, new renderings for the club’s proposed Major League Soccer stadium in the downtown railyard.
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Sacramento Republic FC released on April 3, 2019, new renderings for the club’s proposed Major League Soccer stadium in the downtown railyard.

The Major League Soccer Board of Governors didn’t formally award St. Louis an expansion franchise, but they might as well have.

The league announced it would expand to 30 teams instead of the expected 29, meaning it can accommodate formal proposals by both St. Louis and Sacramento, who were believed to be the two finalists for the next round of MLS expansion.

Saturday, the MLS4TheLou ownership group unveiled updated plans for a new soccer stadium that would seat between 22,500 and 25,500 fans.

The expansion team’s ownership group consists primarily of members of the Taylor family, which owns Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and World Wide Technology CEO Jim Kavanaugh.

Their proposed stadium would be built on 21 acres due west of Union Station, creating a cluster of downtown sports and entertainment venues.

“It has been an amazing 36 hours for our effort to bring an MLS team to St. Louis,” Carolyn Kindle Betz, president of Enterprise Holdings Foundation, said in a release. “With Major League Soccer’s announcement that the league will expand to 30 teams, combined with being able to share our initial stadium design plan, we are inching closer to making this a reality for St. Louis.”

Renderings from HOK, which designed Busch Stadium and Ballpark Village, show a square, partially-covered stadium. A modern, angular canopy above the grandstands would be made from a translucent Tetra Fluoro Ethylene material that both protects fans from the sun and elements, but allows light to pass through to keep the grass field and eliminate shadows. Openings on two sides will provide views of downtown. The field will be about 40 feet below street level, according to the release.

A “Downtown West District” would be included, with restaurants, retail and green space.

“Over the last six months, we’ve visited numerous MLS stadiums to review designs and learn best practices in order to be as thoughtful as possible to our proposed stadium here in St. Louis,” said Betz. “While they’re still a work-in-progress, we’re excited to finally give fans a glimpse at our proposed stadium.”

The cost of construction would come primarily from private sources with tax incentives already approved by the St. Louis Board of Aldermen. A 1 percent sales tax that accompanied expansion of the St. Louis Port Authority also was to assist in the finance, but a vote by the aldermen has been delayed.

Thursday, as the XFL introduced football coach Jonathan Hayes as the leader of St. Louis’ new franchise, it indicated it could look to the soccer stadium as a potential home, instead of the Dome at America’s Center.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber did not publicly identify St. Louis and Sacramento as the two cities that will receive expansion franchises, they were the only ownership groups invited to make formal proposals. That would include final stadium plans, commitments of corporate support, composition of ownership groups, details about funding, as well as plans for player development, fan engagement and community programs.

The league is currently at 24 teams, with FC Cincinnati joining this season. Miami and Nashville, Tennessee, are teed up to start next year and Austin, Texas, will come aboard in 2021.

Garber said he hopes to have an announcement by the MLS All-Star Game in late July.

It has not been determined when the new teams will join the league. MLS has set an expansion fee of $200 million for the league’s 28th and 29th teams. A fee has not been set for the 30th franchise.