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Battleline: Could Match Be Springboard for St. Louis Squad?

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Posted: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 8:30 am | Updated: 9:14 am, Wed May 29, 2013.

Why doesn’t St. Louis have a Major League Soccer team?

That seemed to be the burning question surrounding last Thursday’s friendly between Manchester City and Chelsea at Busch Stadium.

The two top English sides, who finished second and third in the Barclay’s Premier League this season, sold out in less than a half hour after tickets went on sale. An estimated 19,000 fans showed up there Thursday to watch Chelsea practice.

Whether it was seeing two of the world’s premier club teams play, seeing professional soccer in St. Louis or just the curiosity of seeing what the fuss was about was moot. The people came in droves and were treated to a 4-3 Manchester City comeback victory.

I would compare the match to the annual NFL games at Wembley Stadium in London. Those games usually bring a huge European crowd as they’re curious in seeing what all the hype of American football is about.

It’s nice that the two teams brought most of their top players. Many times on these tours, the teams bring a watered-down version of what they field during league play. You usually see a number of youth team players and reserves who are fighting to move up their team’s pecking order. In other words, it has all of the excitement of an NFL preseason game. But, for most of the game, Manchester City and Chelsea fielded their top players. These are players you see on a weekly basis if you watch the Premier League or European matches. A number of them starred in the World Cup.

Defensively, Chelsea looked a bit lost after first choice goalkeeper Peter Cech was subbed out for Jamal Blackman. The England Under-19 International struggled later in the game.

Those who couldn’t get tickets had the chance of watching the game on ESPN 2, where St. Louis native and former MLS standout Taylor Twellman lamented the fact there is no team in St. Louis. Twellman then discussed that St. Louis would be a perfect spot to place a franchise.

Twellman is far from the only St. Louis product to have played in the league since it’s foundation. Heck, we even have Franklin County ties to MLS. Borgia graduate Matt Pickens is a seasoned veteran in the league and has won a championship with the Colorado Rapids.

Former East Central College All-American Nickardo Blake was drafted by Toronto and is playing in the North American Soccer League’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

And MLS has recently announced it’s going to be adding a 20th team . . . in New York City.

Manchester City is partnering with the New York Yankees to start New York FC, a team which is set to start playing in 2015.

It’s not that St. Louis hasn’t had investors interested in starting an MLS team here. In fact, if any major league expanded here, it would be MLS.

You’re not going to see an NBA team in St. Louis in our lifetime. League leadership has made that perfectly plain. We rarely even get exhibition games here. Professional basketball teams have foundered in the Gateway City since the Hawks fled for Atlanta after the 1967-68 season.

So what would be the best bet for St. Louis adding an MLS team?

My thought is that it would have to be a partnership like the New York FC deal. And we’ve got the right one here right now.

Stan Kroenke, who owns the St. Louis Rams, also is the majority shareholder of Arsenal, which finished fourth in the Barclay’s Premier League, could forge that partnership.

Kroenke has a history with MLS and currently owns the Colorado Rapids. If Kroenke isn’t the person to step up and start a St. Louis team, he does know many others with big bucks who could do that.

It would have to be an expansion team. In MLS history, clubs haven’t really moved around. The original San Jose Earthquakes moved to Houston, but that’s been about it. Teams tend to fold rather than move.

At this point, the venue seems to be the biggest issue. Playing indoors at the Edward Jones Dome is not a possibility, nor is playing at Busch Stadium. That’s nice for an exhibition, but trying to host 81 baseball games during the summer, plus a professional soccer schedule would be a bit impossible.

And the league has outgrown venues such as the St. Louis Soccer Park, which lacks the stand capacity and parking to make it a viable option. Also, the Meramec River tends to annex that area every once in a while.

As I see it, there would be a few options to make St. Louis a potential home for a MLS team.

First, someone builds a soccer-only facility in the St. Louis area, preferably in one of the hotbed areas. This facility would be like the stadiums many of the clubs have built in recent years, such as FC Dallas, Sporting KC, etc. It would have a main match field and satellite fields for youth teams for practice and play.

This facility could host youth tournaments and be another way to expand tourism.

Second would be if the Rams decided to build an outdoor stadium and expand it to a full complex. The soccer team could play in the main stadium as there’s little runover between the MLS and NFL seasons.

Or, there could be a hybrid facility built which includes a football stadium and the soccer complex. That would be the most expensive option, but would answer a variety of problems.

Put a retractable roof on the football field and make it the best one in the league. Also, have it seat at least 70,000 so that the region could attract a Super Bowl or other huge events to enrich the area economy.

In that way, you keep the Rams in St. Louis past the end of their stadium lease downtown.

The old Chrysler plant location in Fenton would be perfect for any of the options. I know that’s been discussed many times. There’s plenty of room and they could add all the parking they need. It’s close to major roads (Interstates 44 and 270).

Such economic expansion in that area would help to bolster things there after Chrysler’s exit. That would create a lot of new jobs and promote hotel and restaurant growth around there.

I’m sure there are other locations which could be utilized. You know the city of St. Louis wants the team to stay there. But is there another location which would have the room for such a project? There would have to be some major clearing for that to work.

Soccer in St. Louis is viable and someone is going to recognize it.

I believe we’ll see an MLS team in St. Louis at some point and Thursday’s match at Busch Stadium probably will speed up the process.

Somebody’s got to take the lead though.


Area Scoreboard

Boys Basketball

Monday, Jan. 12

%St. Charles 85, Bayless 32

%Westminster 64, Washington 44

Fulton SA at Providence    7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 13

Pacific 48, Eureka 38

%Borgia 72, St. Clair 36

#South Callaway 68, North Callaway 29

#Hermann 28, Russellville 13

Crosspoint 59, Heritage Christian Academy 18

%Francis Howell Central 87, Union 79

#New Bloomfield 63, Montgomery Co 59

#Harrisburg 48, New Haven 39

Thursday, Jan. 15

#North Callaway 65, Montgomery County 58

#South Callaway 84, New Bloomfield 58

Bethel at Fulton SA    6:30 p.m.

#Russellville 36, New Haven 34

#Harrisburg 51, Hermann 44

Friday, Jan. 16

%Washington 71, Bayless 43

%Union 65, St. Clair 52

*Crosspoint at Community Christian    6:30 p.m.

%St. Charles 67, Westminster 50

Providence at Fulton SA    7 pm.

#Seventh-place game — New Haven vs. Montgomery Co.    7:30 p.m.

Consolation game — Russellville vs. North Callaway    7:30 p.m.

%Borgia 60, Francis Howell Central 53

Saturday, Jan. 17

%Seventh-place game — Bayless 58, St. Clair 43

#Third-place game — Hermann vs. New Bloomfield   3:30 p.m.

%Consolation game — Washington 66, Union 59

%Third-place game — Westminster 66, Francis Howell Central 62

#Championship game — Harrisburg vs. South Callaway    6:30 p.m.

%Championship game — St. Charles 65, Borgia 40

Sunday, Jan. 18

Pacific vs. Jefferson City (Mizzou)    5:30 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 19

Union 86, Warrenton 62

Tuesday, Jan. 20

Park Hills Central 72, St. Clair 55

Fulton SA at Liberty Christian    6:30 p.m.

Crosspoint at CAGSL    7:30 p.m.

Linn 59, New Haven 38

Thursday, Jan. 22

Union 86, Cuba 72

Fulton SA at Rivers of Life    6 p.m.

Borgia 70, O'Fallon Christian 35

*Crosspoint at Thomas Jefferson    7 p.m.

Pacific 69, Wichita Independent 46

Friday, Jan. 23

Cuba at St. Clair    4 p.m.

Borgia at Trinity    6:45 p.m.

*Washington at Ft. Zumwalt E    7 p.m.

*Fulton SA at Crosspoint    7 p.m.

Pacific vs. Riverton at Frontenac Tny (Kan.)    8:30 p.m.

New Haven at Chamois    6 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 24

Pacific vs. TBA, Frontenac Tny (Kan.)    TBA

Monday, Jan. 26

^Rock Bridge vs. Northwest    5:30 p.m.

^Lutheran South vs. Hillsboro    7 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 27

Jackson at Pacific    5:30 p.m.

^Borgia vs. Union    5:30 p.m.

~Warrenton vs. Chamois    6 p.m.

~Hermann vs. Owensville    6 p.m.

^Washington vs. St. Clair    7 p.m.

~Wright City vs. New Haven    7:30 p.m.

~Montgomery Co vs. St. James    7:30 p.m.

*Bethel at Crosspoint    7:45 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 28

Fulton SA at Thomas Jefferson    6:30 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 29

^Rock Bridge-Northwest loser vs. Lutheran South-Hillsboro loser    5:30 p.m.

~Warrenton-Chamois loser vs. Wright City-New Haven loser    6 p.m.

~Warrenton-Chamois winner vs. Wright City-New Haven winner    6 p.m.

^Borgia-Union loser vs. Washington-St. Clair loser    7 p.m.

~Hermann-Owensville loser vs. Montgomery Co-St. James loser    7:30 p.m.

~Hermann-Owensville winner vs. Montgomery Co-St. James winner    7:30 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 30

^Rock Bridge-Northwest winner vs. Lutheran South-Hillsboro winner    5:30 p.m.

^Borgia-Union winner vs. Washington-St. Clair winner    7 p.m.

*Providence at Crosspoint    7:30 p.m.

Eagle Ridge at Fulton SA    7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 31

^Seventh-place game    2:30 p.m.

~Seventh-place game    2:30 p.m.

^Consolation    4 p.m.

~Consolation    4 p.m.

^Third-place game    5:30 p.m.

~Third-place game    5:30 p.m.

^Championship    7 p.m.

~Championship    7 p.m.

%Washington Tournament

#South Callaway Tournament

^Union Tournament

~Hermann Tournament

Girls Basketball

Monday, Jan. 12

St. Clair 60, Lutheran South 49

Pacific 65, Lindbergh 40

@Washington 79, Patriettes 28

#Harrisburg 69,  Russellville 45

#New Bloomfield 54, Montgomery Co 29   

Fulton SA at Providence    6 p.m.

@Helias 47, Sullivan 42

#North Callaway 49 vs. New Haven 39 

#Hermann 44 vs. South Callaway 40

Tuesday, Jan. 13

Ursuline 63, Pacific 44

St. Clair 58, Ft. Zumwalt East 27

Heritage Classical at Crosspoint    5:30 p.m.

@St. Charles West 45, Union 38

@Borgia 57, Eureka 35

Wednesday, Jan. 14

#Russellville 43,  New Haven 24

#North Callaway 63, Harrisburg 57

# South Callaway 46, Montgomery Co 28

#New Bloomfield 58, Hermann 50

Thursday, Jan. 15

Bethel at Fulton SA    5 p.m.

St. Clair 54, Northwest 38

@Sullivan 64, Patriettes 32

@Union 56, Eureka 26

Friday, Jan. 16

@Helias 38, Washington 35

Providence at Fulton SA    5:30 p.m.

#Seventh-place game — New Haven 52, Montgomery County 40

#Consolation — Russellville vs.  South Callaway  6 p.m.

@Borgia 47, St. Charles West 37

Saturday, Jan. 17

@Seventh-place game — Eureka 69, Patriettes 39

#Third-place game — Hermann vs. Harrisburg   2 p.m.

@Consolation game — Sullivan 45, Union 38

@Third-place game — Washington 55, St. Charles West 37

#Championship — New Bloomfield vs. North Callaway    5 p.m.

@Championship — Borgia 37, Helias 36

Monday, Jan. 19

*Owensville 78,  St. Clair 68

Warrenton 51, Union 44

New Haven 44, Montgomery Cnty 40 

*Duchesne at Borgia    6:45 p.m.-rescheduled for Friday, Jan. 23

Tuesday, Jan. 20

Fulton SA at Liberty Christian    5 p.m.

Pacific 63, Parkway West 43

New Haven 35, Wellsville 26

Crosspoint at CAGSL    6 p.m.

Borgia 56, O'Fallon Christian 26

Wednesday, Jan. 21

Pacific 55, Eureka 40

Thursday, Jan. 22

*Washington 56, Ft. Zumwalt East 30

*Crosspoint at Thomas Jefferson    5:30 p.m.

Silex 45, New Haven 44

Borgia 67, Trinity 22

Friday, Jan. 23

*Fulton SA at Crosspoint    5:30 p.m.

*Duchesne at Borgia    6:45 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 26

^Holt vs. Pacific    4 p.m.

^Union vs. Warrenton    5:30 p.m.

~Owensville vs. Montgomery Co    6 p.m.

Cardinal Ritter at Borgia    6:45 p.m.

^St. Clair vs. Lutheran South    7 p.m.

~Hermann vs. Wright City    7:30 p.m.

^Washington vs. Wentzville Liberty    8:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 27

Fulton SA at Barat    4:30 p.m.

~New Haven vs. Montgomery Co    6 p.m.

*Bethel at Crosspoint    6:15 p.m.

~Hermann vs. Wright City    7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 28

^Holt-Pacific loser vs. Union-Warrenton loser    4 p.m.

Fulton SA at Thomas Jefferson    5 p.m.

^Washington-Wentzville Liberty loser vs. St. Clair-Lutheran South loser    5:30 p.m.

~Owensville vs. New Haven    6 p.m.

^Holt-Pacific winner vs. Union-Warrenton winner    7 p.m.

~Hermann vs. Chamois    7:30 p.m.

^Washington-Wentzville Liberty winner vs. St. Clair-Lutheran South winner    8:30 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 29

*Borgia at Notre Dame    6:45 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 30

^Seventh-place game    4 p.m.

~Consolation    5 p.m.

^Consolation    5:30 p.m.

*Providence at Crosspoint    6 p.m.

Eagle Ridge at Fulton SA    6 p.m.

~Third-place game    6:30 p.m.

^Third-place game    7 p.m.

~Championship    8 p.m.

^Championship    8:30 p.m.

@Union Tournament

#South Callaway Tournament

^Washington Tournament

~Hermann Tournament


Tuesday, Jan. 20

*Ft. Zumwalt North 39, Washington 36

*Union 41, St. James 24

*Union 49, Sullivan 24

Warrenton 48, Union 30

Thursday, Jan. 22

Priory/Windsor at Pacific    5 p.m.

Borgia at Festus    5 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 23

Union, Pacific at MICDS Tny    TBA

Saturday, Jan. 24

Union, Pacific at MICDS Tny    TBA

St. Clair at Ft. Zumwalt South Tny    TBA

Tuesday, Jan. 27

*Pacific at St. Clair    6 p.m.

Borgia at Helias Tri-Meet    6 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 28

Borgia at Lutheran St. Charles    5 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 29

Union at Farmington/Summit    5 p.m.

*Pacific at St. James/Owensville    5:30 p.m.

Washington at Seckman    6 p.m.

St. Clair at De Soto    TBA

Friday, Jan. 30

St. Clair at Potosi/Festus    5 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 31

Pacific at Hazelwood East Tny    9 a.m.

Girls Swimming

Tuesday, Jan. 20

Timberland 140, Washington 96, Ft. Zumwalt East 87

Thursday, Jan. 22

Oakville 120, Washington 115, University City 9, Mehlville 6

Saturday, Jan. 24

Washington vs. Borgia    noon

Tuesday, Jan. 27

Washington at St. Charles West    3:30 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 29

Washington at Affton/Lutheran South    4:15 p.m.

Borgia at St. Dominic    8:30 p.m.

*Conference Games