MLS awards expansion franchise to St. Louis for 2022 debut

The prospects of a Major League Soccer franchise ever calling St. Louis home appeared to have died two years ago when voters turned down the use of a business tax to finance a new downtown stadium.

Then a new potential ownership group came along.

Led by members of the founding family of car-rental giant Enterprise, the city began to work anew last fall on its pitch for a professional soccer team. On Tuesday, the league officially announced that St. Louis would become its 28th club when it begins play for the 2022 season.

“Our ownership group has come a long way since we first announced our bid last October at Mathews-Dickey Boys and Girls Club, and it’s an incredible feeling to now be able to say, ‘St. Louis is home to the first official majority female-led ownership group in MLS,’” said Carolyn Kindle Betz, granddaughter of Enterprise founder Jack Taylor and the president of Enterprise Holdings Foundation.

Six other female members of the Taylor family are part of the ownership group, along with businessmen Andy Taylor and Jim Kavanaugh, a soccer insider who was part of the first failed ownership team.

The soccer stadium, which is planned for Market Street just west of Union Station, will be the centerpiece of a major development project in the city’s Downtown West district. It will include mixed-used retail, restaurants and gathering spaces open year-round to the public, and is expected to continue a downtown revitalization effort that includes Busch Stadium — home of the St. Louis Cardinals — and the Enterprise Center, the home of the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues.

St. Louis has long been a hotbed for youth soccer. In 1950, five immigrants from “The Hill” neighborhood helped the U.S. upset England in the World Cup. Saint Louis University has won 10 national titles in men’s soccer, and the Hermann Trophy given to the top college player in the country is awarded annually at the Missouri Athletic Club.

The U.S. women’s national team drew more than 35,000 fans to exhibition games at Busch Stadium in preparation for the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, and 43,000 fans packed the stadium to watch the U.S. men beat St. Vincent and the Grenadines in a World Cup qualifier in 2015.

Toxic soil at Beckham stadium site: An environmental report poses a new problem for the proposed site of David Beckham’s MLS Soccer stadium in Miami: Tests show the soil is far more toxic than expected.

According to the Miami Herald, the analysis found arsenic contamination reaching more than twice the legal limit and hazardous debris in surface-level soil samples at the Melreese golf course. The 131-acre site is being considered for a sprawling $1 billion commercial and stadium complex that would be home ground for Beckham’s MLS team, Inter Miami.

Equal pay trial date set: A judge has set a May 5 trial date for the gender-discrimination lawsuit filed by the women’s national team against U.S. Soccer. District Judge R. Gary Klausner assigned the date at a hearing Monday in Los Angeles, which came less than a week after mediation between the two sides broke down.

The players sued U.S. Soccer in March, alleging institutionalized gender discrimination that includes inequitable compensation when compared with their counterparts on the men’s team.

Champions League: Last season semifinalist Ajax faces a fight to qualify for this season’s group stage after drawing at Cypriot team APOEL Nicosia 0-0 in the first leg of their playoff. The second-leg game is next week.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/MLS-awards-expansion-franchise-to-St-Louis-for-14365296.php.

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