St. Louis MLS Stadium Plan Has Expanded, Team Owners To Buy 30 Acres | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis MLS Stadium Plan Has Expanded, Team Owners To Buy 30 Acres

Oct 31, 2019

A Major League Soccer stadium is coming to the western edge of downtown St. Louis — and it’s going to be bigger than originally thought. 

The ownership group of St. Louis’ MLS team released plans Thursday for a nearly 30-acre campus, including a 22,500-seat stadium north of Market Street and team offices and practice facilities to the south. 

MLS Commissioner Don Garber awarded St. Louis an expansion team in August. The team, which has not been named yet, will begin play in March 2022. 

The cost of the expanded project is likely to surpass the $200 million estimate announced this summer. Jim Kavanaugh, a member of the team’s ownership group, said in August that the stadium costs and the league’s $200 million expansion fee would be paid for by the group. 

The group also has agreed to purchase and own the land for the new development, which will generate some amount of property tax revenue for the city. 

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Much of the land is currently occupied by Missouri Department of Transportation ramps connecting I-64/40 with the Downtown West neighborhood. That interchange will be reworked to improve access to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency western headquarters, which will break ground next month. 

The stadium will host 17-20 regular season MLS games annually and three exhibition games. The venue may also host concerts, high school and collegiate sporting events, soccer camps and family events. 

A design rendering shows the planned MLS stadium to the left and the team offices and practice facilities south of Market Street.
Credit MLS4theLou

Updated stadium plan details:

  • Stadium location: Between 20th and 22nd streets with Market Street on the southern edge and Olive Street as its north border. The main entry will be less than 250 feet from Union Station. 
  • Capacity: 22,500, with the ability to expand to 25,000. 
  • Seating: All seats will be within 120 feet of the field — the closest seats will be just 15 feet from the touchline. 
  • Stadium design: The pitch will sit 40 feet below street level. That below-ground design, combined with a canopy covering most seats, will create a loud environment in the stadium. 
  • Training facilities: Team offices and training facilities will be located south of Market Street between 21st and 22nd streets.
  • Retail: Mixed-use retail, restaurants and gathering spaces built into the design of the stadium will be open and accessible to visitors beyond the days the venue will host home games.

Funding details:

  • Ownership: The group, led by the Taylor family of St. Louis-based rental car giant Enterprise Holdings, has agreed to purchase and own the land and stadium. The group “has no intention of requesting citywide tax revenues or tax increment financing” for the project, according to the plans released by the ownership group Thursday. 
  • Land deal: Much of the land for the development is currently owned by MoDOT. That land will be assessed as if it had been taxable in the prior year, and the ownership group will pay property tax on that value for 25 years. The group has been quietly making deals with private landowners on the north side of the stadium footprint, according to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch scoop earlier this week
  • Requests to the city: As part of the updated project plan, the ownership group will request city cooperation to approve 1) special sales tax districts covering patrons buying things at the stadium, 2) exemptions from the city amusement tax, “comparable with the Blues and Cardinals,” 3) property tax abatements and construction-related sales tax exemptions “as previously discussed” and 4) other tax exemptions “typically offered to any businesses looking to build in downtown St. Louis,” according to the release.

More photos:
Design renderings show the proposed MLS stadium on the left along Market Street and the Gateway Arch in the distance.
Credit MLS4theLou
A stadium rendering shows Gate A at ground level.
Credit MLS4theLou

A stadium rendering shows the ground level at Market Street.
Credit MLS4theLou
A rendering shows what the stadium's south bar is expected to look like on game day.
Credit MLS4theLou
A rendering shows the stadium's south bar when used in a reception setting.
Credit MLS4theLou
A rendering shows how the stadium's south bar could be used to host esports events.
Credit MLS4theLou
Design drawings show the proposed MLS stadium between 20th and 22nd streets with Market Street on the southern edge and Olive Street as its north border.
Credit MLS4theLou
Design drawings show the proposed MLS stadium between 20th and 22nd streets with Market Street on the southern edge and Olive Street as its north border.
Credit MLS4theLou

Design drawings show the proposed MLS stadium between 20th and 22nd streets with Market Street on the southern edge and Olive Street as its north border.
Credit MLS4theLou

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated when St. Louis' MLS team will begin playing. The team is expected to play its first MLS game in March 2022.

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