Top Stories

Monday Morning Centerback: Time for MLS to add St. Louis

St. Louis Logo 

With the New Year upon is, it is time to start thinking about which two lucky cities will be granted MLS expansion franchises. While the FC Barcelona-backed Miami bid has received plenty of attention in recent weeks, it isn't the bid that makes the most sense.

The bid that remains the best of the bunch is the St. Louis expansion bid. Boasting a much stronger bid than the one that barely lost out to Philadelphia in the last round of expansion, St. Louis just makes too much sense to not be one of the two cities chosen by MLS later this month.

Jeff Cooper, the head of the St. Louis expansion bid, feels the same way and he believes the city's bid has all the necessary components to make a St. Louis expansion franchise a rousing success.

"First of all, if you look across at all the bid, you have a lot of great cities and great bids, and my hope is that every city that bids gets a team eventually so MLS is a true national coast-to-coast league," Cooper told SBI. "That being said, our bid is certainly as good or better than any other bid when you look at the scope of the project."

What is so special about the St. Louis bid? Where do you want to start?

The St. Louis includes a stadium deal that has already received approval for public funding, a city with unmatched soccer history and tradition, a city with one of the strongest youth soccer systems in the country and a diverse ownership group stronger than the one MLS had reservations about in the last round of expansion.

So how could MLS realistically pass on St. Louis yet again?

The muscle behind the Miami bid has pushed it to the front of the expansion line, leaving most to believe that the battle remains for the other slot, which would pit St. Louis against the likes of Portland and Vancouver.

The biggest, and perhaps only weakness in the city's losing bid last year was an ownership group that wasn't considered to have a strong enough financial foundation. The new bid is expected to include a handful of new investors, with St. Louis Cardinals  star Albert Pujols the first of the new investors to be revealed publicly.

Will that be enough to overcome the clout of high-profile investors like Marcelo Claure in Miami or Jeff Mallett in Vancouver? Cooper doesn't believe it needs to.

"The truth is in MLS you don’t need billionaires to operate these franchises," Cooper said. "You’re limited as to what you can spend on your payroll and on your club. I think our group is substantial enough to handle MLS financials. We’re certainly stout enough to put the project together that we’ve put together."

The St. Louis group has also been able to secure public funding for a stadium, something several long-standing MLS teams have been unable to do, and none of the other current expansion candidates are as close to getting done.

The securing of the stadium funding for the 18,500-seat stadium in the St. Louis suburb of Collinsville alone should make St. Louis a strong contender to be one of the two cities chosen for a 2011 franchise. When you consider the entire St. Louis bid, it should be an easy decision to make. As exciting as Miami's bid may be, and as strong the fan support in Portland might be, neither of those bids should be standing ahead of St. Louis when it comes to selecting the 2011 expansion cities.

St. Louis has the best bid and should be awarded the MLS team it has been waiting so many years for. The league has run out of excuses for keeping that from happening.


  1. Cam, I doubt I was factually wrong about anything. Terrible attendance figures are historical in Miami. It’s illegal to sell beer on colleges in America, my USL attendance numbers were spot on with the latest information available. The only piece of speculation I put into that was the thinking of Barca and Claure who, I believe, somehow magically think they’re smarter than everyone else who has tried something in Miami and had the same result. So basically you’re saying I’m wrong, crossing your arms, pursing your lips, and not backing it up with any facts. Good try kid…

    Besides…Miami: it’s a retirement community for New Yorkers.

  2. I think St. Louis is pretty much a lock to get one of the two teams. They have all the pieces in place. Good luck to them.

    In defense of Miami, a lot of people see college football stadium and the Fusion’s “failure” and say no. Fact is, FIU Stadium is MLS sized, designed by Rossetti(HDC, Red Bull Arena, etc.) and the ownership already have a lease deal signed which gives the MLS team total revenue control for MLS events, plus a share of naming rights and revenues from friendlies. and the rent is a mere $750,000, which covers all 5 years of the deal. Also there will be no football lines, as FIU plays 5-6 games max at the stadium, and it is in the lease deal that all lines will be washed away for every MLS match. Yes it’s FieldTurf, but it’s not the end of the world.

    And anyone who cites the Fusion as a reason against Miami is misinformed. They were t totally mishandle franchise on the part of ownership and the league, and located 30 miles away from the core of the fan base in Ft. Lauderdale. San Jose got back in without a SSS, so why not Miami? Also on the SSS issue, both Laporta and Oliver of FC Barcleona have stated their goal is to build a new SSS before the lease is up at FIU.

  3. Funny Cam…I just went with the easy market info on Wikipedia from RabbitEars because the FCC’s website is a train wreck.

    I’d reference you to a previous post I made but I really like writing this out. These are the simple facts about Miami. The problem with Miami is not the size of the market. It’s that the market doesn’t care.

    They don’t care about the Marlins. They had empty seats during the freaking Pennant.

    Nobody shows up for the Dolphins unless they’re winning and even then that’s a question.

    Nobody cared about the Heat until Shaq arrived. Now that he’s gone the team is winning again and attendance is down by 2,500 a game.

    Miami already had a MLS franchise that failed. The USL franchise in Miami is the worst attended franchise in USL-1 at 1701 per game on the latest attendance numbers I could find.

    Stack that on top of the team wanting to play in a college football stadium where they can’t sell beer (yes the profit margins on beer are huge…gigantic because the beer costs .33 cents to pour and they charge $8.00 for a pint) or charge for parking. The teams entire revenue stream will be based on apparel sales and attendance.

    The only reason this bid hasn’t been laughed out of the league office is because Barca and Claure are involved. If you think their bravado about thinking their bid was a done deal isn’t grating on people then your kidding yourself. These are foreigners that visit Miami and like it on vacation and think they can magically turn it into some sort of sports mecca because they understand something everyone else doesn’t. MLS already went through a franchise in the area and knows the problems the area has.

    The only thing Miami would be able to do is ship Thierry Henry over in his old age to get a few games in with decent attendance until the population of Miami gets bored with him and goes back inside to hang out in their air conditioning.

  4. Miami? The one that’d be a marketing arm of a foreign club, playing in a college football stadium where they don’t get any beer money or parking money, in a market that struggled to draw people for MLS just seven short years ago? Sounds great!

  5. How many times does it have to be said that a larger population does not equal a better location for an expansion team. There are many other factors that have already been discussed that are important in the viability of an MLS franchise.


Leave a Comment