As our divorce with the NFL is near complete and all we get for our $15-million in spending efforts keeping an NFL team, along with gathering hundreds of millions in potential funds to build a publically funded stadium, is a middle finger and a thanks for playing along notice from the Rams and the NFL.
But don’t despair readers, for now that we’ve divorced the NFL we get to date again with leagues who want to be with us. To get with a league that is willing to be invested in our lives and cities. Hey I know a league that is a perfect for St. Louis! Major League Soccer (MLS).
It’s great! It’s growing, and is popular, and it’s interested in you! And it’d be a perfect match! St. Louis is known as the original soccer capital of America. It even has a proud lineage of producing both soccer and World Cup talent.
Okay look in all seriousness our city got _ _ _ _ _ _ by the NFL. However this isn’t the end for us. So we lost something we loved, but it didn’t love us back. Let’s get serious about now shifting focus on renewing a love in what has been a St. Louis past time of soccer again.
The stadium task force did a marvelous job of organizing a game plan and should not be looked at as failures, but rather our cities champions. So we didn’t win the fight, it was a rigged fight, but we gave it one heck of a fight. Plus, clearly it’s evident the ability to fund a stadium is possible in St. Louis. So let’s scale it down for a MLS sized stadium.
The MLS has even said it believes an expansion team in St. Louis could easily happen. In 2013 and reaffirmed in 2015 when MLS Commissioner Don Gaber visited during the NFL stadium fight he mentioned his openness to the MLS coming to St. Louis. At the time he hinted at if the stadium was built it’d be a near done deal the MLS would come here. Now let’s focus on that and take this rigged loss into a major win.
Note that in years past there have been efforts to put the MLS here with some of those teams eventually landing is cities like Vancouver and Salt Lake.
Also there is a person in all of this that can help fund this endeavor, Jack Taylor. St. Louis native Jack Taylor is the owner of Enterprise and National Car Rental (which was the sponsor of the now dead stadium). He is worth over $9-billion and has already shown in this process that his companies are willing to invest in a stadium here in St. Louis. Though it is unfair to demand such an investment out of the Taylor family, I would like to know if they would have any interest in ownership of a team and stadium.
Now for some numbers:
The average pure MLS stadium (pure meaning not joint with a football or baseball stadium) seats between 18,000 – 30,000. Most teams will have about 18- home games a season. So let’s say that the MLS comes here, that means that potentially around 400,000 fans per season. In contrast our NFL attendance has been about the same over the past few years.
Also tickets would be much cheaper giving a greater participation to lower income citizens since the average ticket for a supporter section (really dedicated fans like the American Outlaws) sits between $10- $26 per person (though prices are higher for single game tickets).
Now let’s talk cost of this stadium.
The cost of a soccer park varies from the low end of $50-million (Columbus) to $300-million (New York City). But a comparable stadium done recently would put the price probable around cost around the $100-million to $150-million. Given that National Car Rental put up a $158-million / 20-years naming rights deal perhaps now there can be a move to get a deal like that done for an MLS expansion.
I know it sucks to lose a team, but let’s be honest. Is it better to be at the mercy of a league with no loyalty to the fans but be relevant on Sunday afternoons a few months a year? OR, call me crazy, do an equally favorable yet cheaper deal with the MLS that has said numerous times they want to be here… It may suck to be dumped for no reason, but at least now we as a city can move on and enjoy a better union with a different league.