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St. Louis group submits Major League Soccer bid

A rendering of the proposed St. Louis soccer stadium.
A rendering of the proposed St. Louis soccer stadium.

St. Louis is officially in the mix for a Major League Soccer franchise.

Whether professional soccer actually comes to the Gateway City is by no means a certainty.

An ownership group known as SC STL announced on Tuesday afternoon that they had submitted an expansion application to MLS Commissioner Don Garber and MLS President and Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott.  SC STL lead owner and chairman Paul Edgerley also spoke to league officials after the application was submitted.

“It is a privilege to represent St. Louis in the effort to bring Major League Soccer to the city,” Edgerley said in a statement. “Formally filing the application for an MLS expansion team is an important milestone.  We’ve spent a lot of time with MLS officials and feel that St. Louis is very well positioned to be awarded a club. There is still a long way to go, but thanks to the recent progress made possible through collaboration with city officials, we are very close to bringing Major League Soccer and a multi-purpose stadium to the downtown area.”

There’s ample reason Edgerley mentioned that there was "a long way to go" before the MLS comes to St. Louis.

For one thing, the construction of a new stadium is contingent on St. Louis providing public funding. Getting that done will requiring a court order placing two separate ballot items up for a vote in April; convincing St. Louis voters to approve both measures; and getting the state transportation commission to commit to providing land and site work for the project.

And if all of those aforementioned things occur, there’s still no guarantee that the MLS will grant one of four expansion slots to St. Louis.  Ownership groups representing Detroit, Phoenix, Raleigh-Durham, San Antonio, Tampa-St. Petersburg and San Diego also submitted applications Tuesday, which was the deadline to do so.

Still, the ownership group is banking on St. Louis’ strong local connection to soccer. And they’re also hoping that there’s enthusiasm for a professional sports team to fill the void left by the departure of the now-Los Angeles Rams.

“We have an incredible soccer history, soccer infrastructure and fan following that deserves Major League Soccer,” said Jim Kavanaugh, who serves as vice chairman of SC STL and CEO of World Wide World Wide Technology, in a statement. “With the Rams leaving our community, St. Louis deserves an ownership group committed to the growth and development of St. Louis.  To that end, we will do all we can to make sure St. Louis is announced later this year as a member of the Expansion Class of 2020.”

Garber said that MLS plans to award two out of the four expansion slots before the end of the year. The expansion fee is $150 million, which the SC STL owners committed to pay.

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.