According to a February 17 press release, a group of St. Louis business and sports leaders — the MLS2STL Group – has been constructed to explore and advance the city’s candidacy to be granted a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber responded to the formation of the MLS2STL Group with the following statement:
“We know St. Louis is a tremendous soccer market and are pleased to see many prominent business and sports leaders becoming involved in the efforts to bring a Major League Soccer team to the downtown area,” Garber said. “We look forward to working with the group to further evaluate St. Louis and see if it is ready for an MLS expansion team.”
The MLS2STL Group is comprised of the following members:
-Bill DeWitt III (President, St. Louis Cardinals)
-Rob Ebert (Partner at Bryan Cave)
-Jim Kavanaugh (Co-Founder and CEO of World Wide Technology)
-Vicky Lynch (Consultant for Lynch Sports and Events)
-Bob O’ Loughlin (President of Lodgning Hospitality Management)
-Dave Peacock (Chairman of the Board of Directors for the St. Louis Sports Commission)
-Jim Powers (President of UniGroup)
-Jim Woodcock (Senior VP, Partner and Global Sports Co-Lead for FleishmanHillard)
-Chris Zimmerman (President/CEO of St. Louis Blues, Scotttrade Center and Peabody Opera House)
Recently, MLS announced intentions to expand the league to eventually expand to 28 teams. The professional soccer organization anticipates having 24 franchises by 2020. Currently, the league is comprised of 20 clubs.
The MLS2STL Group is expected to work close with the St. Louis Sports Commission in an effort to conduct baseline market assessments for a potential franchise owner or owners. In addition, they plan to explore possible stadium sites, funding options and the region’s ability to host an MLS expansion team.