My questions about St. Louis

Ives comes right out and endorses St. Louis as one of the next recipients of an MLS expansion franchise. He cites all the usual reasons people give when hyping up St. Louis like its history, heritage, youth teams, etc.

My question remains, if the market really cared about pro soccer that much, why does it not have a team above the PDL level? Heck, in Hermann Stadium, they even have a stadium that seems ideal for a USL-1 or USL-2 team. And yet, they haven’t had one.

Look, lots of cities should have pro sports teams if you only went on history, heritage, etc. If that were the case, Springfield, MA would be a mortal lock for an NBA franchise and the NFL would still have teams in Canton, Ironton, and Massillon. But history isn’t enough.

Plus, it just doesn’t look like they want it enough. Where is the push to play USA games in St. Louis? (Just put up some expansion bleachers like they do in Cary for big events.) Where is the enthusiasm other than out of this one ownership group? Where are their Sons of Ben? The only constituency I see clamoring that hard is the media. And if John McCain proved one thing, it’s that appealing to “heritage” and having the media as your only discernible support base doesn’t tend to work that well.

Plus, look at what else the new team will have to compete with in the market… the Cardinals, only one of the most popular teams in the country and an absolute civic obsession. Can the soccer team gain a media foothold there, especially as that much vaunted soccer history (especially professionally) grows more and more distant?

Does this mean that STL can’t ever get an MLS team? Not at all. My tip to them would be to get a USL-1 team going there, show that the fan support and management competence is there, then go hard after the next set of expansion openings.

Where would I put the next two expansion teams? Portland and Miami.

Where do I see MLS putting the next two expansion teams? Atlanta and Miami.

Why do see them going there? MLS is making noises like they believe in the old NHL-esque “national footprint” argument. I pretty much don’t believe MLS has any future in the South other than in Miami, and even that is iffy. MLS wants badly to believe otherwise, but like the NHL has found out, that footprint can prove a Faustian bargain, whereby yes, you’ve filled region X with franchises, but those franchises aren’t supported, hemorrhage money, are unstable, and teeter on the edge of existence.

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8 thoughts on “My questions about St. Louis

  1. …why would you give up on MLS if they chose those cities? Why would you give up on MLS if they chose anywhere, really? People are way, way too emotionally invested in this round of expansion for some reason. I can understand fans in the actual cities involved being touchy doofi about it, but what baffles me is fans who already have MLS teams going nuts about it. What do I care if MLS expands to Atlanta or Atlantis? Just keep making money and keep the league going.

    St. Louis fans have a right to be touchy, since they missed the last round, and missing another round would be a big ouch. But anyone else…don’t blame MLS, blame the investors for not making a good enough bid.

  2. Has it been announced whether MLS will continue expanding past 2011?

    I haven’t heard that, and I would imagine that’s why folks are crazy about this – even those folks that in some way, have no direct reason to care because they have had their teams to root for for 13 seasons now and a new club, no matter where it is, isn’t going to challenge their loyalty.

    But if Seattle, Philadelphia, and then for argument’s sake, Portland and Miami are next, I could guess that folks are going to get touchy about it because those in Atlanta, Vancouver, St. Louis, etc. will be left to wonder when, if ever, they might make the “big time,” such that it is. As will folks who for some reason have a turbo belief that “City X” should be in the league for whatever reasons sound good to them.

    I think MLS is going to Miami, whether it’s the right thing or not. I hope Portland is the other, but I’m not going to start a riot, flipping over Volvos and throwing squirrels if Portland is shut out.

  3. And, MLS could put the 2011 expansion teams in Wheeling and Laredo, and I wouldn’t give up on the league.

  4. Why does St Louis need a USL 1 or 2 team?

    Hasn’t Toronto proven that an unsupported USL-1 team can still have a massively supported MLS team?

    USL isn’t the proving ground for MLS, we do not have promo/relegation, but that’s the topic for another time

  5. Toronto is an enormous, hugely ethnically-diverse market… to compare it to St. Louis in anything other than the uselessness of their respective hockey teams is laughable.

  6. And what does ethnically diverse have to do with anything? Do you think ethnically diverse crowds are filling up stadium in Salt Lake City or Columbus? When I was attending Burn games, there were white people and Mexicans. Was that diverse? No, and they were drawing 14-15k that years.

    Diversity doesn’t fill stadiums. USL teams have no meaning when discussing MLS attendance.

    However, if it’s important to you, if you think St Louis doesn’t have ethnic communities, although not as large as Toronto granted, you do not know jack about the city.

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