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St. Louis officially gets MLS team, economic boom expected to follow

  

Major League Soccer (MLS) is ready to kick off the St. Louis region’s “renaissance” by bringing a professional soccer team to the city, officials announced Tuesday morning.

The announcement is the culmination of talks going back to St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay in 2006, MLS Commissioner Don Garber said during the conference.

“Any successful pro sports expansion bid needs strong partnership and commitments with local leaders,” said Garber. “And the support from St. Louis has always been really strong.”

The theme all speakers touched upon during the conference was the potential economic boost this would give both the city and state. The new stadium and team will be an important part of the $8 billion committed to the city’s redevelopment, according to Carolyn Kindle Betza, a leader of the St. Louis team’s ownership group.

“As we have stated from the beginning, we did not want to take resources away from the city,” said Betza. “The goal is to bring more tourists, more revenue, and potentially even creating more jobs.”

“The goal is to bring more tourists, more revenue, and potentially even creating more jobs.”

An estimated 370,000 fans from outside of St. Louis are projected to attend annually, resulting in the creation of about 175 jobs, $8,400,000 annually in total fan spending, and at least $1,334,000 in taxing bodies, according to an impact study conducted by the St. Louis Board of Alderman last year.

This potential boost in the economy was seen at the state level as well. A resolution was brought to a Missouri House committee in January urging MLS to give serious consideration to establishing a team in St. Louis. Republican Rep. Justin Hill, who championed the resolution, said the official announcement made him excited for both the region and the state.

“MLS will have a major impact on our ability to attract innovative businesses to the St. Louis area while supporting an already existing demand for professional soccer,” Hill told The Missouri Times Tuesday.

St. Louis has among the most knowledgeable and excited soccer fans, officials said during the announcement. According to Garber, that support is vital to both Missouri and the MLS organization.

“Major League Soccer and soccer fans throughout the United States and Canada are counting on all [Saint Louis] citizens to support this club through thick and thin,” Garber said.

The team will be the first female majority-led ownership group in the history of MLS and one of the only ones in all of professional sports, Betza said. It is the league’s 28th team.

Although the announcement is official, the city will have to wait until 2020 to see its first game.