Report: St. Louis owners considering starting potential USL Pro club in 2015

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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.

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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.

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40 Responses to Report: St. Louis owners considering starting potential USL Pro club in 2015

  1. CeezNYRB says:

    Here we go!

  2. JP says:

    This is mildly good news, and I would support a USL club with occasional attendance. But neither of these guys has the financial ability to be an MLS owner. Until someone with deep enough pockets expresses interest, any talk of an MLS team here in St. Louis is a pipe dream.

    • Aaron in SF says:

      Agreed. Those with interest in bringing MLS to STL have never been able to drum up enough interest in financial backers that have the wherewithal to cough up enough to make a difference. Stadium is also an issue, as I believe previous ideas have always pushed stadiums out into the burbs which would be a shame given the potential with downtown revitalization.

      If only they could get Jack Dorsey on board, maybe they could make it happen.

    • TimRStL says:

      No they don’t have the deep pockets. But neither did Orland City until they proved themselves and attracted bigger investors. That’s the goal here too.

      • bbstl says:

        This is exactly right. If MLS comes to St. Louis, I would expect it to be an ownership group as opposed to a single owner. Unless, of course, Kroenke wants to buy a team and tear down Union Station for a stadium location (which would be fine by me, btw.)

        • Aaron in SF says:

          Kroenke already owns the Rapids already doesn’t he? Doubt he’s an option. The Union Station spot is ideal though if they can fit a stadium in being right on the Metro.

          • Rory Miller says:

            Kroenke could have a second team if he wanted. In fact, it looks like he is claiming that if he has to move the Rams to LA then he will start an MLS team there. I think it’s a bluff for stadium reasons and in the end he will keep the Rams in St. Louis and throw in another MLS team in the new stadium.

            People keep acting as if the league is against multi-team owners, which AEG clearly shows is not the case. This isn’t the days of four or five owners anymore so the league will not oppose Kroenke adding a second team.

            • Aaron in SF says:

              Negative. Garber put a stop to any talk about that today. To get away from a Mickey Mouse league reputation, you have to do away with things like owning multiple teams in a league.

      • beto says:

        +1, prove yourself StL and investors will come. I like this better than MN or Atlanta (and some other current MLS teams). Glad they are going this route thru usl.

  3. Jee says:

    Copy and paste, then you have an article.

  4. isaf says:

    should be 1 of the 24 clubs by 2020.

    makes no sense that ST. LOUIS doesn’t have a MLS club

    • Mike in Missouri says:

      As soon as they have a deep pocketed owner and a stadium, they’ll have it. The blame doesn’t lie with MLS.

    • bryan says:

      it makes perfect sense. they don’t have an ownership group at the moment. how are you going to have an MLS team without an ownership group ready to pay a $70-$100M franchise fee plus stadium construction?

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      AC St. Louis, ahem.

      But you were making some sort of hyperbolic argument and I interrupted.

      I think you can look at Dallas and see cities where the soccer fan base is there but whether it’s snobbery or what, they can’t get very excited about a domestic pro team in their own town.

      • Luis says:

        there’s plenty of fans in the USA, problem is too many are more interested in Europe aka the top 2-3 teams in the top 4-5 leagues and/or more interested in complaining about how NASL is superior and pro/rel. etc

  5. WUSTL says:

    they could easily play at Wash U.’s stadium or SLU’s stadium. Both are the right size for an minor league team.

  6. bryan says:

    great news. USL Pro is by far more interesting to me than NASL at this point. looking forward to seeing how this plays out.

    • Brian says:

      you seriously think USL is more interesting than NASL? you should pay more attention to some of the NASL teams especially Indy Eleven, they are going to sell out every game this year and have over 7,000 season tickets. You won’t see those numbers in USL anywhere except Orlando. Hell a lot of MLS teams don’t even have that many season ticket holders. Hopefully all 3 levels of pro soccer in this country continue to grow and be successful.

      • bryan says:

        yes, i seriously do. why? ebcause of the relationship they are building with every MLS team. that draws my interest more than NASL.

        Indy Eleven is a fun story, and certainly helps, but that is one team. Jacksonville is interesting given they are new, but outside of that, i couldn’t care less. Sacramento Republic interests me more than any NASL team, as does LAG II. as a DC United fan, i also pay attention to Richmond Kickers.

        it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that fans of MLS will take a deep interest in USL Pro.

  7. Jack Burton says:

    This is hopefully the first step to a brighter future in St. Louis. The best way to attract the deep pockets is to show them will support soccer in the city. The bigger the crowds, the more investors will take notice. Anyone interested in supporting should check out the St. Louligans (http://stlouligans.com) and join us for some matches this summer. St. Louis Lions, FC Bordo, and Fire and Ice seasons will be starting soon.

  8. NASL to el paso tx says:

    The factor is that st.louis doesn’t need nasl or uslpro but mls. Their fans don’t have to wait, they want mls now and if miami can get one, why not st.louis.
    St.louis is tired of waiting, so given.them uslpro is a slap.on the face.

  9. Jee says:

    >if miami can get one, why not st.louis.
    Because Miami got deep pocket investors that want to dump tons of money, duh.

  10. TheRyan says:

    There was a time when I would’ve said that STL deserves an MLS team and anything less would be a real letdown. After years of waiting for an investor to step forward it is now clear that this is the path to a MLS team and you had better believe that the people of St. Louis are going to step up and do what it takes to return top tier soccer to the city in which it belongs as much as anywhere else in the USA.

  11. Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

    I don’t know. I am not as convinced. On the surface, I have always thought, St. Louis is a soccer town…and it is. But maybe it is just a soccer playing town.

    Seattle was a coveted lay-up when they started MLS. Why ? Because they already knew in the early 80s, Seattle was drawing 25k.
    St. Louis ? I don’t believe they ever have drawn big for soccer.

    Bringing Real Madrid type team in once a year is a completely different gig. The casual Euro watchers are completely different base than the real fans of MLS. Much harder to draw the second type of fan year after year, compared to the first type for one game here and there.

    • Rory Miller says:

      Actually by 1982 Seattle’s attendance had plummeted to 12,000 a game, the next year 8,000 a game and then they were out of business.
      The NASL attendance absolutely died once Pele and the Cosmo’s wore off.

  12. Mike says:

    Fans in Kansas City and Chicago should be standing with their brothers in St. Louis giving a resounding “YES” to this question. St. Louis is desperate for professional soccer. MLS has much to gain with a franchise in this city. It’s a shame that the lack of proper ownership is holding both the city and league back from something they both would benefit from.

  13. Stephen Rutherford says:

    Wish we could have a stadium in Laclede’s Landing between the Lumiere and the river. just enough space for a 20,000 seat stadium like FC Groningen’s in the Netherland’s (link to en.wikipedia.org). A stadium somewhere in midtown near the new Ikea would be awesome, but not sure if they could find the space with a field going North to South. Definitely hope it’s near a Metrolink Station! just dreamin’….

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