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One Step Closer to the MLS? St. Louis Soccer Club Owners Want USL Pro Team by 2015

Categories: Sports

stlsoccer.jpg
Jon Gitchoff
A lucky fan catches the ball at the friendly between Chelsea FC and Manchester City FC.
"People have got to talk with their feet," Glavin says, speaking like a lifelong footballer. "It's one thing to say they'll come, but we really need them to do that. We are behind when it comes to the support of the team."

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.

See also: How Yogi Berra Could Help Bring a Major League Soccer Team to St. Louis

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."

soccercrude.jpg
Jon Gitchoff
What they said.
But, wait. Haven't we been here before? Enter the ghost of St. Louis' professional soccer past: A.C. St. Louis.

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.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.


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62 comments
scho
scho

STL with an MLS team?  You would have a pair of season tickets sold right here!!!

JimmytheB
JimmytheB

MLS in St Louis? Won't happen until the likes of Stan Kroenke, Anheuser Busch, and Enterprise auto rental put up a stadium proposal with a strong and committed marketing campaign. A vocal and visible supporters group of grass roots fans would need to show up often at any opportunity to forward the effort. St. Louis, the Soccer Capital of the US. Don't make me (or any knowledgeable person) laugh. We can't live in the past. Where is the capital funding, the community commitment, and a the pool of talented players, coaches, and fans? MLS has 23 spots filled or soon to be filled in their plan for a 24 team league. Places like Sacramento, San Antonio, and others are months, even years ahead of us. Get moving or get off this claim of soccer tradition!

JimmytheB
JimmytheB

MLS in St. Louis? Won't happen until A-B (Brazilian owned), Stan Kroenke, and the owners of Enterprise Car rental put up BIG dollars to do a first class job of: a stadium proposal, appealing fanfare (marketing) to the local area, and the creation of a strong supporters group even before a team has been declared. The Sons of Ben in Philly showed how to do that. The fallout from the AC St. Louis disaster follows us in the project of creating all of those conditions. St. Louis, the Soccer Capital of the US? Don't make me laugh. We've been surpassed. Now we must rebuild general interest, quality soccer infrastructure, and young players who show talent and desire. 

mitch.boggeman
mitch.boggeman

all for a professional soccer team, but don't ever call STL a "soccer city" again................

Scooter Von Donaken
Scooter Von Donaken

I can see it, they fan base is there, the stadium is available. Surprised Kroenke hasn't been involved.

Bradley DeMunbrun
Bradley DeMunbrun

Some of the details have changed, but it's about to get real.

al_fannell
al_fannell

If I were both Tony Glavin and Andrew Haines I would consider building a soccer stadium either at the Union Station or the Bottle district. They should follow what the  Sacramento Republic FC of the USL Pro did by building an 8,000 stadium which cost only 3 million dollars without tax payers money and it will only take 2 months to build it before the their season starts in April.   http://www.sacbee.com/2014/02/19/6171535/tentative-deal-reached-to-build.html

JimmytheB
JimmytheB

Tony Glavin and Andrew Haines can affect the arrival of an MLS team in Saint Louis. They need to be smart by finding a rich patron, whether an individual or some group. They must invigorate the existing local supporters by growing their soccer loving numbers into a critical mass of fanatics. Most of all the must determine to base the team inside the city limits. The Sons of Ben in Philadelphia and the Timber Army in Portland proved that a small army of fans can really swing the balance in the mind of investors. Cultivate the press who now pay scant attention to any soccer news. The building of a team requires diligence on the part of the organizers. It is long overdue that our town has its own team. 

cwollamp
cwollamp

I think the support for professional soccer is here, but people aren't going to come out in large numbers unless you're fielding a competitive team in the top league.

cwollamp
cwollamp

I think the soccer fans are here but you're not going to get them to come out in large numbers for a minor league team. You'll get the ones that truly love the game to come out, but not your casual fans. I think that was pretty clear from what happened with AC.

Margaret Moore
Margaret Moore

St. Louis is ready for pro soccer - just look at the attendance at international soccer!

JimmytheB
JimmytheB

Sign a lease agreement with SLU to build a stadium at Grand and Chouteau, or Jefferson and Chouteau. Both sites have good freeway access. Good for SLU and a great CITY location for St. Louis fans. Talk with the Brazilians at Broadway and Arsenal. I've heard their country knows something about in soccer. In the meantime play the games at Hermann Stadium. The real question: will the St. Louis fan get totally energized and convert their alleged soccer loyalty into a rabid cohort of fanatics who spread enthusiasm. Just look at groups from Portland to Philadelphia. Get off your ass St. Louis. Seize the possible!!!!

Colin Feeney
Colin Feeney

It's gonna happen whether you like it or not. Of course, you can always try to hop on the bandwagon. Good luck with that.

Matt Madden
Matt Madden

...plus technically "America" includes South America. Soccer's pretty big in that region.

Jason Patrylo
Jason Patrylo

/\ not to mention the history of the sport in the region

Edward Hecker
Edward Hecker

All they need to do is wait for the Rams to leave.

Colin Feeney
Colin Feeney

Absolutely! The eventual goal: #MLSINSTL

The_Ted
The_Ted

I hope they play somewhere more central to the region not just the St. Charles area. The problem I have now with attending Lions games is the distance for me.  Some place central or even as some have mentioned, STL Soccer park would be ideal.  I'm excited either way but location will determine if I get season tickets or just make it to a few games. Can't wait till 2015! 


al_fannell
al_fannell

Finally and hopefully they'll play at St.Louis Soccer Park.

OhSoTired
OhSoTired

Lindsay, it's not "the MLS," dear. 

Jim Booker
Jim Booker

I would go to the games. If the owners would try to put the best team they could on the field. I love Baseball, Hockey, Football,Basketball and Soccer. I'm a season ticket owner of the Blues.

Shashi Hemchand
Shashi Hemchand

Yawn...boring! This is America soccer is a no go in this region

Maxwell Martin
Maxwell Martin

There's an open space just north of a Casino Queen on the east side. Eads bridge Metro Link stops right there. Look on your satellite map images - a pitch & stands should fit fine. It wouldn't cost the 100's of millions of $ that a "real" downtown stadium would, and could have an iconic downtown view.

Deb Woods
Deb Woods

No. But the 70,000 Bosnians here will. Put it in Wilmore Park and you will have a winner!

Dave Brown
Dave Brown

More exciting than the NFL where 80% of the time is spent standing around making plans. And if you're lucky, you get to watch the referee watch TV!!!

Dave Brown
Dave Brown

I have a bad feeling that they're gonna end up playing on a plastic field in some distant suburb.

Jason Patrylo
Jason Patrylo

Good thing Seattle Fans, Portland Fans, Vancouver Fans, Montreal Fans, and the soon to be Orlando fans didn''t think that way or they never would of never had an MLS team.

Jason Patrylo
Jason Patrylo

as appose to baseball where you watch a bunch of guys stand there scratching themselves for 4 hours

al_fannell
al_fannell

More popular than Baseball and Football.

The_Ted
The_Ted

Definitely more exciting than that yawn fest called baseball. Sitting in the sun watching out of shape "athletes" scratch their junk and spit tobacco while trying to decide if they are gonna swing or night...Valium for the masses.

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