Battleline: Could Match Be Springboard for St. Louis Squad? - The Missourian: Sports

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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.

/sports

Area Scoreboard

62nd Annual Borgia Pepsi Thanksgiving Tournament

Blue Division

Pool 1

McCluer North

Normandy

Carnahan

Pool 2

Cardinal Ritter

Pacific

Rockwood Summit

Gold Division

Pool 1

CBC

Soldan

Washington

Pool 2

Borgia

North Tech

Union

Monday, Nov. 24

CBC 77, Washington 52

Tuesday, Nov. 25

Cardinal Ritter vs. Rockwood Summit, PPD

Washington 63, Soldan 62

Borgia 83, Union 50

Wednesday, Nov. 26

Carnahan 71, Normandy 46

Pacific 64, Rockwood Summit 22

North Tech 67, Union 37

Thursday, Nov. 27

McCluer North 95 Carnahan 68

CBC 82, Soldan 55

Borgia 50, North Tech 45

Friday, Nov. 28

McCluer North 93, Normandy 39

Pacific 70, Cardinal Ritter 57

Saturday, Nov. 29

Blue Consolation — Rockwood Summit 47, Normandy 38

Gold Consolation — Soldan 78, Union 59

Gold Third Place — North Tech 63, Washington 57

Blue Third Place — Cardinal Ritter 71, Carnahan 46

Blue Championship — McCluer North 64, Pacific 58 (OT)

Gold Championship — CBC 67, Borgia 66

Boys Basketball

Monday, Dec. 8

Lutheran S 64, St. Clair 48

Borgia 61, Carnahan 51

Tuesday, Dec. 9

Lafayette 44, Washington 35

Friday, Dec. 12

Potosi 72, St. Clair 45

*Washington 69, Ft. Zumwalt North 65

Montgomery Co 62, New Haven 61

*St. Mary’s at Borgia    6:45 p.m.

Bourbon 75, Union 74

Glendale 63, Pacific 46

Saturday, Dec. 13

New Haven 46, Barat 40

Nixa 56, Pacific 46

Tuesday, Dec. 16

*Pacific 70, New Haven 35

*Hermann 67, St. Clair 49

*Ft. Zumwalt South 61, Washington 50

*Union 81, St. James 74

Friday, Dec. 19

*Owensville at St. Clair    4 p.m.

Washington vs. Parkway Central, GAC/Suburban Shootout, St. Charles Family Arena, 5:30 p.m.

*St. James at New Haven    6 p.m.

*Pacific at Union    7 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 20

Sullivan Shootout

Owensville vs. Rockwood Summit, 11:30 a.m.

St. Clair vs. Lindbergh, 1 p.m.

Jefferson City vs. Jackson, 2:30 p.m.

Washington vs. Lutheran South, 4 p.m.

Borgia vs. Poplar Bluff, 5:30 p.m.

Sullivan vs. Affton, 7 p.m.

Girls Basketball

Saturday, Dec. 6

Cor Jesu 63, Borgia 60

New Haven 46, Moberly 39

Monday, Dec. 8

Pacific 73, Rolla 40

St. Clair 68, Dixon 37

Washington 54, New Haven 15

Tuesday, Dec. 9

*Borgia 59, Rosati-Kain 38

Union 53, Northwest 44

Thursday, Dec. 11

*Borgia 60, Notre Dame 53

Union 81, Bourbon 53

Friday, Dec. 12

New Haven 45, Principia 30

*Washington 59, Ft. Zumwalt North 32

Saturday, Dec. 13

West Plains 76, Pacific 37

Monday, Dec. 15

*Pacific 46, New Haven 28

*St. Clair 59, Hermann 50

*St. James 64, Union 37

Sullivan Tournament

Cuba 48, Principia 27

Borgia 68, Patriettes 29

Sullivan 56, Pattonville 43

Owensville 78, Farmington 54

Wednesday, Dec. 17

Sullivan Tournament

Farmington 61, Pattonville 39

Sullivan 68, Owensville 64

Principia 55, St. Louis Patriettes 42

Borgia 56, Cuba 38

Thursday, Dec. 18

*St. James 72, New Haven 21

*Union 49, Pacific 48

Friday, Dec. 19

Washington at Francis Howell    7 p.m.

Sullivan Tournament

Seventh Place — Pattonville vs. St. Louis Patriettes, 4 p.m.

Consolation — Farmington vs. Principia, 5:30 p.m.

Third Place — Owensville vs. Cuba, 7 p.m.

Championship — Borgia vs. Sullivan, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 20

Union at Waynesville    5 p.m.

Wrestling

Monday, Dec. 8

Maplewood 48, Borgia 30

Brentwood 47, Borgia 36

Winfield 48, St. Clair 36

St. Clair 42, St. James 40

Tuesday, Dec. 9

Pacific 55, North County 10

Jackson 63, Washington 12

Farmington 63, Washington 6

Wednesday, Dec. 10

Borgia 36, Lutheran St. Charles 34

Winfield 54, Borgia 30

Thursday, Dec. 11

Union 72, Ft. Zumwalt East 9

Union 52, Principia 30

Union 54, Winfield 27

Saturday, Dec. 13

Union Tournament    9 a.m.

Borgia at McCluer S-Berkeley Tny    9 a.m.

Pacific at Farmington Tny    9 a.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 16

Owensville 61, St. Clair 16

Union 48, Owensville 27

Union 65, St. Clair 18

Friday, Dec. 19

Washington at Raytown S Tny    TBA

Union at Cape Central Tny    TBA

Pacific at Ft. Zumwalt E Tny    TBA

Saturday, Dec. 20

Washington at Raytown S Tny    TBA

Union at Cape Central Tny    TBA

Pacific at Ft. Zumwalt E Tny    TBA

Girls Swimming

Monday, Dec. 8

Washington at Eureka    4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 9

Washington at Nerinx Hall    4 p.m.

LSC/OFC 134, Borgia 101, St. Dominic 83

Monday, Dec. 15

Borgia at Notre Dame (Forest Park)    4 p.m.

Kennedy 88, Washington 84

Wednesday, Dec. 17

Lindbergh 128, Washington 48

*Conference Games

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