Photo by Bill Barrett/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
St. Louis is often mentioned by soccer fans across the country as a city they would like to see win an MLS expansion franchise, but a lack of owners willing to invest in a club has prevented that from happening.
That might soon change, however.
Two St. Louis soccer club owners are working hand in hand in an attempt to bring a professional team back to the city, according to a report from the Riverfront Times. The owners, St. Louis Lions’ Tony Glavin and St. Louis Ambush’s Andrew Haines, are reportedly submitting an application and gathering investments for a new USL Pro club which could begin play in 2015 and eventually pave the way for entry into MLS.
Glavin and Haines are considering starting a USL Pro club to further gauge interest from soccer fans in St. Louis, a city that many observers consider the birthplace of American soccer. They are also cognizant of the fact that five of the last six cities to win MLS expansion franchises have had USL Pro teams.
“We felt the timing was right,” said Glavin. “This has always been my goal. I think the area has been crying out for something.”
Glavin added that recent matches played at Busch Stadium (pictured above) and the Edward Jones Dome have brought back a hunger for professional soccer in St. Louis. Glavin, however, wants local fans to prove that they can support a team before trying to move up to MLS.
“People have got to talk with their feet,” said Glavin, who is unsure where the USL Pro club could play. “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.”
Glavin also said that part of the thinking behind starting a USL Pro side is that it can enter an affiliate partnership with an MLS club before making the jump to the top tier of American and Canadian soccer.
“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.”
St. Louis has been without a professional soccer team since 2011. A.C. St. Louis played in NASL during the 2010 season, but shut down in January 2011 due to financial reasons.
The club never broke attendance levels of 6,000 people.
What do you think of the idea of bringing a USL Pro club to St. Louis? Think it will be well supported? Wish the owners would just try and land an MLS club from the jump?
Share your thoughts below.