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Albert Pujols joining St. Louis MLS expansion ownership group


The St. Louis MLS expansion bid is set to receive a boost that could be the first step to putting the midwestern City over the top in its quest for an MLS franchise.

St. Louis Cardinals star and recently-named National League MVP Albert Pujols is set to join the St. Louis MLS expansion bid, a high-ranking official in the St. Louis expansion group, St. Louis Soccer United, told SBI on Tuesday.

St. Louis is hoping to be one of two expansion cities added in 2011 and is one of seven finalists for the expansion slots. The addition of Pujols is a major coup and, for my money, makes St. Louis a front-runner for an expansion slot. With a stadium deal already in place in the St. Louis suburb of Collinsville, the addition of Pujols bolsters what had been considered the lone weakness in the St. Louis bid, which is a strong and diverse ownership group. In fact, sources within the group have told SBI that Pujols is one of three new investors set to be revealed in the coming weeks.

What do you think of the news? Does this make St. Louis the flat-out front-runner? Think Pujols joining the group won’t make much of a difference?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. It is funny to here comments people make about St. Louis such as what goes on downtown or crime. If you new anything about St. Louis, you would know that it has a more vibrant downtown than most Major US Metro CBD’s, this is something that come from a lot of planning and redevelopment of buildings that had been left vacant. The downtown population has grown exponentially.

    With this said, there isn’t any room for a downtown stadium, and it would be very expensive to find or create a property large enough for the development planned by St. Louis Soccer United somewhere on the Missouri side of the river.

    I didn’t like the Collinsville plan originally, but it is a great plan. The development would be great for the metro-east.

    I don’t see how people can say that having Pujols on board isn’t beneficial or that it is only PR. Soccer is a big deal in St. Louis, but the question is will that soccer base support professional soccer. Having a St. Louis icon in Albert Pujols on board is only going to fire up the possible St. Louis fan base.

    MLS is not the NFL or MLB so saying that Pujols net worth thrown into the ownership team isn’t substantial is rediculous. He’s not partnering up with Jerry Jones, its with Jeff Cooper, et al.

    I am not going to compare STL’s bid to the others, but I believe as do most St. Louisans that MLS would be a huge success in St. Louis.

  2. The Metrolink does not currently run to the proposed SSS site. However, the site supposedly is in line for a future Metrolink expansion (I wouldn’t bet on an expansion though, considering Metro’s budget problems). Still, between driving the 10 minutes, taking a shuttle from a bar in the city, catching an express bus, or for the more hardcore, chugging a Mountain Dew, swimming across the Mississippi without contracting life-threatening disease, and taking a nice 7 mile jog, there are a plethora of ways to get there.

    Also, one reason for Collinsville could be Cooper’s familiarity with the area / local reputation, as his firm is well established in the metro east. Don’t forget the price of a farm field vs. city real estate.

  3. BlueWhiteLion,

    I really do think that MLS needs to get back somewhere in the Southeast, and there really isn’t a city that makes more sense than Miami, my entire concern is with the bid.

    1. It doesn’t seem as well thought out or organized as the other bids. For example, look at Miami’s Web site and compare it to St. Louis.

    2. There is no plan for a SSS. I know you can point to Seattle, but that should be an exception, not reverting back to the standard. All we’ve heard from the other owner is how rich he is. If Houston is offering to pay like $80M for their stadium, this guy should be able to fund his entirely for $100M. If not, the fans can buy into the club like in Seattle.

    It’s just a shame that MLS could be forced to go soft on this rule. From what I know, the stadium has a turf field, it might have lines, and there are plans for expansion of the stadium soon after it’s built. The SSS is SO important to the atmosphere and credibility of this league.

    3. I just don’t like the idea of branding a club in Florida after one in Spain. Barcelona is huge in Barcelona, not in Miami.

    4. Most of all, I just feel like this bid is being made in the interests of Barca, not MLS. It came out the other day that Barca is trying to even avoid paying taxes on the team. It’s ridiculous.

  4. Chroes (sorry, can’t do an umlaut): While I am for the Barca bid in Miami (within parameters), I do agree that ANY bid, even “mighty Barca” (and I don’t like Barca) needs to be well thought out, and a SSS in Miami–some plans/money/policy IN STONE needs to be a part of a Miami bid.

    Having said that, while you raise good circumstantial points (differences between Spain/Miami Hispanics, etc), you leave out important points. The Fusion team was experiencing attendance growth year by year. Team wise they also had success (semifinals their final years). There were other good factors. This all despite being played in Lockhart, far away. While there may be factors with Horowitz (the owner) that I don’t know about, basically, it was HIS decision to fold. But had he had the money and staying power as other owners, I believe the Fusion would still be around and growing strong.

    Miami is NOT a bad sports town, but it has been a city of rapid growth, transient culture, and save for the Dolphins, has not had any teams with rich history. So they are not as committed to the local teams as a NYer might be. But when the team is having success, the people turn out. WIth time, I think the allegiance grows. But then teams like the Marlins have made fans cynical by decimating the teams after each WS win. That kind of “fire sale” (even if well thought out froma business point of view) just pisses people off and makes it hard to establish good will and allegiance.

    Barca is a great idea (I confess I am hazy about their direct financial involvment) because an established team with world wide presence wants to (apparently) invest in this league. they have many resources from money, to players, to expertise. It does not matter if there are Barca fans in MIami. I am not a fan, but I would go, because of soccer, and that I am smart enough to see that a quality organization is backing this team. (again, not sure how they are backing them, maybe I am overselling them).

    Miami politics have made stadium deals near impossible, and that is to their shame. The bay front would be awesome, but they are committed to condos. However it looks like at long last the Marlins are getting a stadium and a soccer team could build one on the same plot of ground in little havana. This is to the credit of the politicians (who have finally been working hard and cooperatively) and the mayor, whom I understand is a huge soccer fan.

    Chivas might have lessons teach us about how not to do something, but they are not a direct correlation. Nor are they a failure yet. Fact is, they ARE a second team, and fact is, they are NOT the Mexican branded team. So their allegiance will have to be built over the long haul, and with success on thefield, that will help

  5. Tkebh979–thanks for your insight. I have never lived there, but I interned there for a year, and lived in central IL for nearly a decade. St. Louis is one of my favorite cities for some reason. I knew about the university soccer culture–even did a day camp with Ty Keough once . . . but I didn’t know how deeply it went culturally. I wish them well.

    As for thinning out our teams, there has got to be a way around that. In the short term, perhaps with a salary cap increase, we can add more central and south americans (etc), and in the long run, with pay better than 25K for players, there have GOT to be more players out there that can and would play if they could make a living. Think of all the ethnic enclaves.

    Actually, I taught at a school filled with Ethiopians for a couple years. Some of the best players I have ever seen were these guys. A lot of them from the Alexandria (DC) area. I’ll bet there are scores of untapped talent in this great country.

  6. Rich,

    The logic is that the Fusion died because they were playing in Ft. Lauderdale where there wasn’t as much of a soccer population. The new proposal is supposed to be in the heart of the immigrant areas of Miami, which is the reason Miami is supposed to be a strong bid.

    When you look at a map of where MLS teams are, there’s a pretty glaring hole in the Southeast. My problem with the current Miami bid is that it isn’t nearly as thought out as the bids from Montreal, Portland, St. Louis and Vancouver. Those four cities have been preparing for this for a long time, whereas this Miami bid only came to the public in the weeks before expansion applications were due. The Miami bid has no plans for a true soccer specific stadium, only the notion that a team with Barcelona’s namesake will attract the latino population to support the team.

    In my opinion, that logic is completely bogus.

    1. Barcelona is in Spain. From my understanding, the target audience in Miami is from Latin America. They speak the same language, but it’s not the same thing.

    2. Chivas USA tried the same thing, and are now struggling to draw fans in the second biggest market.

    3. Identifying an MLS team with a bigger team is incredibly polarizing, and unless there are already thousands of Barca fans in Miami, that name doesn’t guarantee anything. Real Madrid has quite a few fans of their own, you know..

    4. MLS should be working to expand it’s own unique names and leagues. People around the world are intrigued by the U.S., and MLS should be pushing teams like D.C. United on a more global presence.

    -I was at the Olympics in Beijing this summer and one of my coworkers was an Indian man who wore a David Beckham jersey. That’s what the league should be looking for, not an incomplete bid in a tested-and-failed city from a polarizing giant.

  7. Question. If everyone is so sure that the Miami team is the obvious choice w/ the best chance at succeeding, then perhaps someone explain what happened to El Pibe Valderrama’s Fusion??

  8. docsoccer,

    St. Louis’ downtown is a lot less active than most. There’s Washington Avenue and the Landing, but SLU isn’t really downtown. There isn’t nearly the condo population in downtown St. Louis that there is in other places either. Also, the presence of a good metro system is just as important to the successful downtown stadiums (Toronto, D.C.), and public transit in St. Louis is as bad as any other midwest city.

    My point is just that putting a team in downtown St. Louis or 10 minutes outside of it won’t make that much of a difference. If anything it just makes it a lot cheaper for the fans.

  9. As for the talk about splitting up into conferences to the point where Beckham doesn’t play in NY every year… never gonna happen. The league can’t afford to have some locations where its biggest stars don’t travel annually.

    As for Pujols, and coming from a native St. Louisan, it’s great to see him come on board, but I kinda agree with many here and feel like it’s window dressing, like Steve Nash in Vancouver. I love to see it, but without the millions in backing that Joe Roth/Paul Allen types can provide, it pains me to say I doubt STL joins the league this round. I really hope I’m wrong there.

    And finally, as for Collinsville, I grew up in the next town over from Collinsville, and it’s literally 10 minutes from downtown STL by interstate. It’s incredibly easy to get to from anywhere in the STL metro area (still one of the nation’s largest), and the team WILL be well supported, NOT Kansas City 2. I’d take the Wiz in STL… and give these 2 teams to Montreal and Vancouver.

  10. This, and correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the extent of FC Barca’s involvement that of a marketing capacity only? Meaning, they aren’t offering any direct financial backing? I get the impression it’s more of an Arsenal+Rapids sort of situation…

  11. I love how people continue to pencil in three teams, when the league is only expanding by two. Simply love it. Especially when they say Miami is coming in 2010.

  12. What are you talking about the nightlife isnt in downtown are you crazy? SOulard Washington Avenue has more bars than any palce in the area Harry’s West Pepper Lounge, all the SLu bars are downtown. You must not get out much. Washington Avenue is the place to be dawg. Homie

  13. YES!!!!!!! Were getting at team thank god. And to people who say he has no expierience running a business he has a very successful restaruant in st. Louis. Plus he is the best player in baseball that might help… alot. Oh yeah saint louis is going to do to the mls what im going to do with the girl I meet at Helen Ftizgeralds tonight use them then lose them.

  14. Cripes, what does Portland have to do?!

    I guess celebrity figure heads are all the rage now. Who can PDX get?

    Clyde Drexler? Bill Walton? Courtney Love?

    Do enough people know Gus Van Sant?

    I’ve got it: Matt Groening!

    Get on it, Merritt.

  15. while his name is famous, this is really just about the money. the problem in the past with MLS in st. louis was the ownership group not being wealthy enough. this helps to remedy that problem.

    also, i do not see the teams in KC and chicago hurting st. louis’ fanbase. KC is a four hour drive away and chicago is about a five hour drive. thats like saying a team in washington DC could hurt the new york fanbase.

  16. i really have a sour taste regarding barcas bid. really, how are they aware of what is best in terms of american soccer at this point?

  17. Also, I’m not from St. Louis, but I went to college at Mizzou, and there is absolutely no way that St. Louis fans have been diluted by Kansas City and Chicago. KC is four hours away and Chicago is five, and even if a few St. Louis natives adopted the Fire (St. Louis fans wouldn’t adopt the Wizards) I’m sure the allegiances would go to STLUnited as soon as they got a team.

  18. Al17,

    St. Louis is on the river. Like Tkebh979 said, Collinsville isn’t far at all from downtown St. Louis, and the Illinois factor is essentially irrelevant based on the geography.

    It should also be noted that St. Louis isn’t the nicest city in the world. I’m pretty sure the crime rate there is among the top two or three in the nation annually, and there really isn’t a lot to attract you to Downtown except Cardinals games, Ram’s games and the arch. Most of the nightlife etc., is outside of the downtown area.

    From the start I thought it should be Montreal and St. Louis. Unfortunately Barcelona is going to complicate things. Montreal is by far the most complete bid: good stadium, already a following and strong ownership.

    If St. Louis gets a team, I would imagine the fanbase will look like RSL. It’s not the biggest city out there, but there are a lot of sports fans (Cardinal’s fans are often regarded as the best fans in baseball) and just as important, a huge youth following there. There’s a lot of MLS players from St. Louis right now, such as Taylor Twellman, and Brian McBride went to college there.

    It’s important that MLS eventually gets to Florida, but the only thing Barcelona has right now is a lot of money. It’s basically like they just saw that MLS was expanding and threw money at the situation. They really don’t have any organization (their website is terrible) and for a bid so based around money, they have a terrible stadium plan with no long-term solution.

    I hope MLS can see this for what it is and makes Barcelona work a lot harder to get a team. St. Louis, Portland, Vancouver and Montreal have all put in their dues and have legitimate plans for teams. If Portland doesn’t get a team because their stadium is shared with a baseball team, I would hope a worse bid in Miami doesn’t get to play on a turf football field.

    So, I think it will be Montreal and either St. Louis or Miami. Portland and Vancouver both have their benefits but they each have too many cons as well. I would just hate to see Barcelona get a team just because they have money, and I have no idea why people think they’d have any more pull than Chivas.

  19. SombraAla-

    If it’s StL, then why not announce at the MLS Superdraft (being held in StL)?

    If it’s NOT StL, then I would imagine an announcement anywhere but the Superdraft would make the most sense.

  20. PS-

    I think you want increase regional play and I like the idea on NY playing say Seatle once every two years. Makes it more special.



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