The day St. Louis soccer fans have been waiting for is finally here.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced Tuesday afternoon the city will be awarded an expansion team and become the league’s 28th club when it begins play in 2022 in a new soccer stadium located in the Downtown West District of St. Louis.
Flanked by St. Louis mayor Lyda Krewson and leadership of the #MLS4TheLou ownership group, Garber welcomed the league’s newest team and expressed admiration for the city’s support for soccer, which dates back over a century.
“It is with great pride that we welcome St. Louis to Major League Soccer,” Garber said. “St. Louis is a city with a rich soccer tradition, and it is a market we have considered since the league’s inception. Our league becomes stronger today with the addition of the city’s deeply dedicated soccer fans, and the committed and innovative local ownership group led by Carolyn Kindle Betz, the Taylor family and Jim Kavanaugh.”
St. Louis is the first female majority-owned club in MLS history, according to MLS. Its ownership group is comprised of Enterprise Holding Foundation president Carolyn Kindle, Enterprise Holdings executive chairman Andy Taylor and six female members of the Taylor family, plus World Wide Technology CEO Jim Kavanaugh.
“Our ownership group has come a long way since we first announced our bid last October…and it’s an incredible feeling to now be able to say St. Louis is home to the first official majority female-led ownership group in MLS,” Kindle said. “Our MLS team and stadium will only add to St. Louis’ renaissance currently underway and will provide us with a great opportunity to bring together many different segments of the community, uniting people in their love for the game.”
The construction of the expansion side’s home stadium is part of a major development in the Downtown West district that also includes mixed-use retail, restaurants and gathering spaces open year-round to the public.
St. Louis’ arrival in MLS will be seen by many as a long time coming, as the city was one of the first places in America to embrace organized soccer. In 1907, the St. Louis Soccer League was the only functioning, organized league of its day in the United States and lasted until 1939.
The city has since hosted teams in the NASL, Major Indoor Soccer League, National Professional Soccer League and Women’s Professional Soccer League, while chatter about whether an MLS team could be viable dates back to the beginning of MLS.
The city’s USL team, Saint Louis FC, arrived in 2015 thanks to involvement from Kavanaugh and advanced to the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup this year.
A number of top current and former American players call St. Louis home as well, including Taylor Twellman, Brad Davis, Steve Ralston, Pat Noonan, Tim Ream, Will Bruin, Lori Chalupny, Becky Sauerbrunn.