Another step forward in the MLS to STL movement has been made. Nine local business leaders from the St. Louis area have announced that they will begin exploring potential stadium sites. This comes to some as no surprise to some with the departure of the NFL, and a large desire from the MLS to finally get into the soccer hotbed of St. Louis.
While designs have come forward from various companies and citizens. There had yet to be a group of local business leaders to step forward openly about exploring stadium site options. Now finally there is a serious group with the pocket books to make the concepts of a brand new major sports venue and sports franchise.
Now let’s be clear, this is not an official ownership group saying they are building anything yet. However, it would be assumed that most if not all on this list would have some share of the investment and ownership. Listed here are is the names of the members of this new MLS exploratory group:
Bill Dewitt Jr: Owner – St. Louis Cardinals
Rob Ebert: Partner at Bryan Cave
Jim Kavanaugh: CO-Founder & CEO of World Wide Technology, also owner of Saint Louis FC
Vicky Lynch: Consultant at Lynch Sports and Events
Bob O’Louhin: President of Lodging Hospitality Management
Dave Peacock: Former president of Anheuser Busch, Board Director of St. Louis Sports Commission
Jim Powers: President of UniGroup
Jim Woodcock: Senior VP and partner at FleishmanHillard
Chris Zimmerman: President and CEO of Scotttrade Center, Peabody Opera House, and St. Louis Blues
According to Jim Woodcock their work would not require any public money during this exploratory phase and will be 100% privately funded.
It would be interesting if this group aims to all become part owners, who would be this new MLS team president. Dewitt has the deepest pocket of the local sports owners and has shown an ability to grow a “small market” team to a prominent standing nationally. In his tenure the value of the Cardinals has gone up from the $150-million he paid originally, to now (according to Forbes) is worth $1.4 Billion.
Jim Kavanaugh who has ownership of Saint Louis FC would know the most about the workings of the MLS and USL, which would be key to growing a competitive team quickly. So he would have to be in the running for team president or at minimum in charge of soccer operations.
It should be noted that ownership is not just about bringing players in. It is a massive part of it obviously, but an owner/CEO/President/ etc. has to keep making profit, and keep fans happy. There is no doubt many of the members currently in this group have experience managing money successfully. If there is a singular owner, and not a partnership of equals, there may be an opening for someone like Dave Peacock. He has after all demonstrated he has the ability to work with local leaders and had a successful run as president of AB.
Now where will this all go from here? It is yet again a positive step in what is a long process to bring a MLS franchise to the original soccer capital on America.