Getting a Major League Soccer team could help NFL stadium bid

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – As NFL owners meet in San Francisco, there was big news on the stadium front back home in St. Louis, Tuesday.

It came from the Major League Soccer (MLS) commissioner, Don Garber.

Soccer fans blew their horns and roared at the sight of Garber at Ball Park Village.

Garber said he’d met with Governor Nixon and Mayor Slay.  He was impressed by their commitment to building a new stadium.

A question hung in the air above the crowd there for a “meet and greet” Q&A session:  what did it all mean for the Rams future in St.  Louis?

“What’s good for the city (of St. Louis) is good for Fenton,” said Rams fan and season ticket holder, Frank Valk of Fenton.  “It’s good for Jeff City.  It’s good for Kansas City.  It’s more about St. Louis.  I’m a Rams fan, but I’m a bigger fan of St. Louis.”

As a smattering of LA Rams supporters clamored at the NFL owners meetings in San Francisco,

St. Louis Rams fans heard about another step forward in the stadium effort here:

Garber said repeatedly during his visit the biggest hurdle to St. Louis having an MLS was the lack of a stadium; the new proposal could change everything.

“We know there are 3 things that matter:  a strong passionate soccer city – this certainly is; a stadium plan – I think there’s an interesting one being developed;  and I think there will be no shortage in people that would be interested in owning a team,” Garber said.

He said the downtown location was also critical to landing a future MLS team in St. Louis.

History offers a lesson.  The Seattle Seahawks moved to Los Angeles during on off-season the 90’s with the 20 year dome stadium in Seattle considered outdated.

The team moved back to Seattle after fans learned a new stadium would also bring an MLS team; soccer fans were the deciding factor in 1 % margin of victory in the vote to build that stadium.

An MLS team playing in St. Louis’s new stadium could be a major factor here.

“Yes absolutely,” said Frank Viverito of the St. Louis Sports Commission. “It’s absolutely a win for the region and that’s the kind of synergy that moves projects forward.”

“That’s great.  I hope it happens,” said Rams fan and season ticket holder, Vickie Beineke of Fenton. “It would be good for football and for soccer and for St. Louis – everything!”

Garber said the league's expansion to 24 teams was set and had already bypassed St. Louis.

St. Louis was in the mix beyond the 2018 season, he said.