Enterprise's Founding Family Looks To Bring MLS To St. Louis
The founding family of St. Louis-based car rental company Enterprise is "making a bid for one of the last two planned MLS expansion team slots," according to a front-page piece by Jacob Barker of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Members of the Taylor family are forming the group, which would "make the team majority-owned by women, the first in the league and one of few ownership groups controlled by women in all of professional sports." The Taylors said that a roughly $250M, 20,000-seat stadium "dedicated to the soccer franchise would be 'overwhelmingly' privately financed." Public help would likely come from "dedicated sales taxes on concessions and other merchandise sold to patrons, a property tax break from a city agency owning the stadium site and leasing it to the group, state tax credits and a break on the city’s 5 percent ticket tax." The Taylors are teaming with the family of Missouri-based World Wide Technology CEO Jim Kavanaugh, a former pro soccer player who was part of last year’s "failed bid" for an MLS team and stadium. Kavanaugh also is part-owner of USL club St. Louis FC, which would "serve as a development club if St. Louis lures an MLS team." Because the families are "not seeking any commitment of citywide resources, a public vote like the one that doomed the financing package for the last effort" in April '17 "won’t be necessary." St. Louis aldermen would "need to pass legislation approving the deal." Similar to the last MLS proposal, the new effort is "eyeing the same land." Enterprise Exec Chair Andy Taylor said that a timeline is "still in flux but that he hopes the league could make a decision within months" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/10).
BRINGING IT BACK TO LIFE: In St. Louis, Jeff Gordon notes the MLS stadium effort was "dead until Andy Taylor approached Kavanaugh to discuss it." Kavanaugh said, "I didn’t know if he was serious. So we met. I filled him in on what needed to be done to really make this work. We continued to talk and the more we talked, the more we collectively got excited about what this could mean for St. Louis." Taylor: "The MLS opportunity really isn’t just about the sport. It’s about redevelopment, and being part of the resurgence that is happening in St. Louis." Gordon writes that if the project "clears all political hurdles, this potential ownership group will have a compelling case to get one of the two MLS expansion teams up for grabs" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/10).
MUCH MORE PROMISING: In St. Louis, Benjamin Hochman writes, "You thought the Taylors made a splash on the local sports scene with naming rights of the Enterprise Center? This is next-level." St. Louis "deserves MLS" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/10). A ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH editorial states that the new proposal has "all the ingredients for success and almost none of the drawbacks" of last year's "failed professional soccer venture." The most "attractive aspect of this new proposal is the absence of requests for citywide tax revenues or tax-increment financing." St. Louis has "tremendous potential to support professional soccer, and there’s every reason to believe the sport would win a wide following here." This new venture "takes those concerns off taxpayers’ minds and places them where they should be -- in the hands of the private investors backing it" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/10).
TWITTER REAX: La Vida Baseball Senior Editor Jose de Jesus Ortiz: "This is should be a no-brainer for MLS and St. Louis, and a much better deal for St. Louisans." St. Louis-based KMOX-AM's Tom Ackerman: "You could have a Cardinals, Blues and MLS game happening within blocks of each other downtown ... on the same street (Clark). St. Louis will not run out of beer. Promise." Downtown STL President & CEO Missy Kelley: "This will be great for the entire region and especially for Downtown St. Louis." World Wide Technology VP/Digital Matt Sebek: "Just can’t say enough about the Taylor family and @jimpkavanaugh. Long way to go, but this doesn’t happen without perseverance and love for St. Louis, plain and simple."