One Step Closer to the MLS? St. Louis Soccer Club Owners Want USL Pro Team by 2015
|A lucky fan catches the ball at the friendly between Chelsea FC and Manchester City FC.|
To gauge whether St. Louisans would actually buy tickets for professional soccer, Glavin and Haines launched a simple new website asking fans to submit their names, contact info and their ticket choices, ranging from single game tickets to season passes.
But a USL pro team would be more than just a dry run for an MLS franchise. The leagues started working together last year in a player-development deal similar to Major League Baseball's farm system. A USL team in St. Louis would be automatically paired with a partner team in the MLS as the leagues work to strengthen competition and expand their fanbase.
"This area would like to see an MLS team," says Glavin. "If we do have a USL team, part of our initiative is to connect with an MLS team. If we're going to invest in a USL professional team, we want to build a foundation with the potential to go beyond USL."
St. Louis' first professional outdoor men's team in 30 years, A.C. St. Louis launched in the 2010 season with the North American Soccer League, another professional league in the American soccer pyramid. After one and only season with game attendance levels that never broke 6,000 people, the team closed in dire financial straits.
Glavin acknowledges but shakes off the comparison. With several local investors securely in place, Glavin hopes he'll avoid A.C. St. Louis' fate by capitalizing on the recent upswing in soccer's popularity here.
"The timing wasn't right," he says about A.C. St. Louis.
When it comes to a soccer team, the big question is always: Where will they play? Glavin doesn't have an answer yet, but he's keeping all options -- from using a university field to building a new pitch -- on the table.