Sports

Competing group offers to help fund St. Louis soccer stadium

ST. LOUIS — A competing group wants to join forces with SC STL in building a new $200 million downtown St. Louis soccer stadium in hopes of attracting an MLS franchise, offering to pay $80 million to eliminate the need for public financing.

SC STL unveiled a stadium plan Nov. 17 that calls for voters in April to consider funding up to $80 million of the project.

The group Foundry St. Louis has also been pushing for a Major League Soccer franchise, though MLS clearly favours the SC STL plan. Commissioner Dan Garber said in a statement earlier this month that SC STL is the "ideal ownership group that will provide St. Louis the best opportunity for a future expansion team."

Foundry St. Louis CEO Dan Cordes, in a letter to Dave Peacock of SC STL dated Nov. 23 and released Tuesday, offers to join forces while criticizing the public funding aspect of the SC STL proposal. Cordes wrote that his group's involvement eliminates the need for St. Louis taxpayers "to cover the gap through taxpayer-subsidized corporate welfare."

"MLS in St. Louis cannot and should not serve as an anchor dragging on city finances and services," Cordes wrote. "Rather, it should employ minority-owned consultants, vendors and contractors, create salaried and high-wage jobs, spur population growth and advance the conversation about racial equality and economic inclusion."

The letter does not elaborate on the source of Foundry St. Louis' funding, but spokeswoman Jen Crichton said money would come from investors in the group. She declined to name the investors but said they have a combined net worth of $2.5 billion. SC STL spokesman Jim Woodcock declined comment.

The MLS last year announced an expansion team in Minnesota, and plans another in Miami. League spokesman Dan Courtemanche said plans call for four additional teams, though a timetable for when they'd join has not been determined. Courtemanche said St. Louis is among eight markets that have publicly expressed interest.

The SC STL open-air stadium would have 20,000 seats with the ability to expand to 28,500. It would sit next to St. Louis Union Station on land currently owned by the Missouri Department of Transportation. The city has an option to buy the site, but the value is still being appraised.

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This story corrects spelling of Jen Crichton's first name.