Soccer supporters in the region need to wait a bit longer before finding out if the top professional league in the country will award an expansion team to St. Louis.
Major League Soccer officials say an announcement is not expected around this week’s All-Star Game in Orlando. In April, the league stated that it was looking to make a final decision on the next two expansion franchises before the contest on July 31.
That seemed to change after the prospective ownership group in St. Louis met with the MLS expansion committee in New York a couple of weeks ago. MLS4TheLou put out a statement saying the league “has not released any information” on when an announcement might take place.
#MLS4THELOU made our formal presentation to the @MLS expansion Committee today! The strength of the ownership group, led by @BetzKindle and their deep ties to the #STL community were discussed. #MLS has not released any info on when expansion teams will be announced. pic.twitter.com/xUrNfYGW2F
— MLS4TheLou (@MLS4theLou) July 15, 2019
That position was backed up late last week by MLS Executive Vice President of Communications Dan Courtemanche.
“Major League Soccer does not plan to have any expansion news coming out of the July 31st MLS Board of Governors’ meeting,” he wrote in an email. “While expansion has been on every MLS Board of Governors' meeting for more than a decade, any announcement of a new expansion team will take place in the market where the new club is based.”
Major League Soccer, which currently has 27 teams across the U.S. and Canada, plans to expand to at least 30 teams. St. Louis and Sacramento are believed to be among the front-runners for the next two spots.
The continued wait is not dampening the spirits of many soccer fans in the region, including Phill Grooms.
Grooms said an MLS team and following through on the stadium plan would be a huge boost for the city.
“As a fan of soccer in St. Louis, as a fan of the city of St. Louis especially, a stadium in downtown right next to Union Station – I’m really excited for St. Louis to see that.”
He also said securing a top-flight team would benefit youth academies and other soccer teams in the region, while adding to St. Louis’ rich soccer heritage.
“We used to have some of the best teams in the country back in the early 1900s, and then in the ‘50s we had some of the better players,” Grooms said. “We’ve been out of the top tier of soccer for so long that we have to go reach down into the roots that we do have.”
Even with excitement over the potential awarding of an expansion franchise, St. Louis soccer fans will have to continue to be patient.
The league is not saying when it will make a formal expansion announcement.
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