St. Louis makes new MLS expansion pitch with group majority-owned by women

Yes, St. Louis is back in the MLS expansion race. And yes, it looks like it could get the stadium it lacked a year ago.

In early 2017, St. Louis was all considered the top candidate for one of the two MLS expansion berths up for grabs.

But the effort fizzled out when city voters in cash-strapped St. Louis rejected by a vote of 53 percent to 47 percent a proposition that would have provided $60 million in public financing for a 22,000-seat downtown soccer stadium near Union Station.

What's different this time?

First of all, the ownership group.

Last year's SC STL effort was led by Boston-area businessman Paul Edgerley and a St. Louis group of business leaders.

The Taylor family behind Clayton-based Enterprise Holdings -- whose rental car brands include Enterprise, National and Alamo -- is behind the new effort, which, if successful, would make would St. Louis the first MLS team majority-owned by women. Carolyn Kindle Betz, a senior vice president at Enterprise and executive director of the company’s charitable foundation, leads the ownership group with six other female members of the Taylor family.

(Jim Kavanaugh, a part-owner of the USL's Saint Louis FC, is again involved in the ownership effort.)

Second, the stadium funding.

The stadium is located at the same downtown plot of land, currently owned by the Missouri Department of Transportation, but would be built with "overwhelming" private funding covering the $250 million cost.

The major break the group asks for relates to a 5 percent amusement tax charged for tickets to sporting events -- a break that only needs the approval of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen. It is also seeking revenues from a sales taxes on items at the stadium, a property tax break for the city agency that would own the stadium site and lease it out -- similar to other MLS stadium deals -- and state tax credits.

Both St. Louis mayor Lyda Krewson, elected the same year as the stadium funding measure was rejected in 2017, and Lewis Reed, president of the Board of Alderman, spoke at Tuesday's press conference.

“St. Louis is a soccer town,” Krewson said. “We play it. We watch it. Now let’s score us a franchise.”
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