MLS Proposal


Ethan Kalishman, News Editor

St. Louis has long had a unique history when it comes to professional sports. Although it remains home to a Major League Baseball team (the Cardinals), the city has lost two football franchises (the Cardinals and the Rams), failed to retain a professional basketball team (the Hawks) and has barely avoided losing its National Hockey League team (the Blues). Alan Trzecki, Burroughs’ head varsity soccer coach, recalled that St. Louis made three different bids to land Major League Soccer (MLS) teams – and they all failed. This year, the city is proving its resilience again, as the newest attempt to bring soccer to St. Louis recently was just recently announced by Carolyn Kindle Betz (’95), senior vice president and executive director of the Enterprise Holdings Foundation.

Leading the effort, Betz aims to build a franchise from the bottom up, and she attributes her motivation to propose a team to her love of St. Louis and its potential to host a third professional sport.

“An MLS team is a perfect fit,” Betz said. “[It] will build on St. Louis’ rich soccer tradition … [and] we see an MLS team as something that people of all backgrounds can rally around and come together to support.”

Betz said she also is pursuing a team in St. Louis because she values the passion that the metropolitan area brings to its citywide ventures. Betz explained that this premium on community has been directly derived from her education at Burroughs.

Photo courtesy of the #MLS4TheLou ownership group (Pictured in the middle with the soccer ball is Carolyn Kindle Betz)

“If Burroughs taught me anything, it’s to support others in our communities and we certainly see this MLS initiative as supporting our community,” she said.

What makes Betz’s proposal particularly feasible is that she and her partners are planning to pay privately for nearly all of the fees required in bringing an MLS team to St. Louis. This means that no additional taxes will be needed to build a stadium or pay the franchise fee, among other financial requirements. Furthermore, if the MLS grants the team to St. Louis, it would become the first majority-female ownership group in the league, something which three-year girls varsity soccer player Sophia Crowley (’20) praised.

“[This is] one of the most exciting parts of the proposal,” Crowley said. “Since there are so few professional teams owned by women, it would be a big deal to have one in St. Louis because they [the ownership group] would serve as role models for any women who are in a field dominated by men.”

In addition to being role models to other women, having an MLS team in St. Louis will develop new idols to whom young players can look up. Michael Turza (’21), member of the boys varsity soccer team, says that he would love to have the MLS team in St. Louis so he is able to find more inspiration to become a better player during season.

“The possibility to see big-time soccer at a local level would be great for someone like me to see and root for great players … [so] having another major professional sports team in this city is a must,” Turza said.

Trzecki agrees with Turza that a soccer team will provide new experiences and motivation for Burroughs and youth players to work harder and appreciate the game.

“Having a team in town [young players] can rally around and see play live is so much different than watching on TV,” Trzecki said. “They will appreciate the speed of play, the physical demand, and skill required to make a career in the game.”

However, there is still a long way to go before St. Louis can finally break ground on the new soccer stadium. While Betz and her partners have tremendous support from the region and Board of Alderman, there is still stiff competition from other cities – more notably, in attempts to gaining one of the few available expansion franchises.

“We need to continue rallying together to show the MLS that our city is ready to fully embrace and support a team,” Betz said.

Trzecki echoed his urgency: “We cannot let this opportunity pass us by once again.”