Major League Soccer looks past St. Louis for expansion
St. Louis is no longer being considered as an option for the current round of Major League Soccer expansion. League Commissioner Don Garber announced Wednesday that Sacramento, Detroit, Nashville, and Cincinnati are the only cities still in contention to land the two new franchises. The revelation did not surprise some St. Louis soccer supporters.
Local analyst Bill McDermott said the lack of a stadium proposal hurt the region's chances of landing a team. The St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame member said even with a rich heritage in the sport, a top-flight professional franchise is a necessity to stay relevant in the national soccer conversation.
"The only way you capitalize on your existing name equity and name awareness and the pedigree you've had before as a soccer city in the current era — in the modern era — is to have a soccer-specific stadium and be a member of MLS," according to McDermott.
He also said the lack of a soccer-specific stadium means the city is missing out on chances to be the site of more national team matches, and possible future World Cup contests.
St. Louis voters rejected a stadium funding proposal in April, effectively killing the chances of securing an expansion franchise and future possibilities do not look good, McDermott said.
"All I have right now, unfortunately, is false hope."
Another St. Louis area soccer observer was more optimistic about the city's chances in future rounds of MLS expansion.
"I don't think it's dead," STL Soccer Report founder Phil Grooms said.
"There's definitely a possibility of something happening in the next phase," he said, but stressed that's a take from a longtime observer and not based on "insider information."
Nailing down a stadium funding plan is essential, according to Grooms, who pointed to the money other interested cities have pumped into their expansion proposals.
"They're trying to wow MLS."
Follow Wayne on Twitter: @WayneRadio