St. Louis Becomes First Female Majority-Owned MLS Club
St. Louis has officially been named the 28th franchise in MLS, and it will be the "first female majority-owned club" in league history, with an ownership group led by Enterprise Holdings Foundation President Carolyn Kindle Betz, according to Julian Cardillo of PRO SOCCER USA. World Wide Technology CEO Jim Kavanaugh, EH Exec Chair Andy Taylor and "six female members of the Taylor family" make up the rest of the club's ownership group. Betz said, "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" (PROSOCCERUSA.com, 8/20). In St. Louis, Benjamin Hochman in a front-page piece writes it "can't be said enough" about what this "means to the history of women in sports." In a year in which the USWNT "made headlines for both its World Cup victory and its fight for pay equity and other social justice causes," this is a "symmetric symphony of empowerment and respect" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 8/21). Also in St. Louis, Ben Frederickson writes this is "just the latest, greatest chapter of the St. Louis soccer saga." The city's patience produced "one of the best expansion bids in MLS history, one that pushes the envelope by putting women in positions of power." The focus will "soon shift to what comes next -- finalized plans for stadium design, sponsorships, team branding and more" -- but yesterday was a "day to celebrate" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 8/21).
TAKING THE NEXT STEP: The POST-DISPATCH's Frederickson notes the MLS St. Louis ownership group has partnered with Snow Kreilich Architects co-Founder Julie Snow and architecture firm HOK to design a stadium that will "seat between 22,000 and 25,000 people." The stadium will be "primarily privately financed." The ownership group will also "pay for stadium maintenance, repair and upkeep" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 8/21). SOCCER AMERICA's Paul Kennedy wrote the ownership group will "pay for the construction of the stadium, but the project proposal includes plenty of breaks." Some of the incentives include: "Free use of the land, currently owned by the Missouri Department of Transportation; a sales tax exemption on stadium construction materials;" a 50% sales tax exemption on ticket taxes (with revenues from the other 50% going toward stadium upgrades); and a 3% "user-only sales tax on stadium goods going toward the stadium's operation and construction" (SOCCERAMERICA.com, 8/20).
RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME: MLS Commissioner Don Garber said, "You think about the most passionate soccer markets in North America, St. Louis has always been really high on that list. It's just taken us 25 years to finally put the right ownership group together, with the right stadium plan with the right support from the public to be able to get it to the finish line" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 8/20). Garber added, "St. Louis is a city with a rich soccer tradition, and it is a market we have considered since the league's inception." The AP's Dave Skretta noted St. Louis is a "hotbed for youth soccer." St. Louis Univ. has won 10 national titles in men's soccer, and the Herrman Trophy given to the "top college player in the country is awarded annually at the Missouri Athletic Club." The USWNT "drew more than 35,000 fans to exhibition games at Busch Stadium" leading up to the '15 and '19 Women's World Cups. Another 43,000 fans "packed" the ballpark to watch the USMNT beat St. Vincent and the Grenadines in a World Cup qualifier in '15 (AP, 8/20).