St. Louis MLS Stadium Could Host Football, Boxing, Concerts & UFC As Well
“Soccer-Specific” Stadiums Around The U.S. Have Hosted Many Other Events
A 20,000-seat outdoor stadium proposed for downtown St. Louis could host a variety of events as well as serving as the home field for a St. Louis entry in Major League Soccer. Outdoor stadiums in cities across the country that were constructed with soccer and an MLS team in mind have proven they can successfully accommodate a variety of events.
The 20,000-seat multipurpose stadium is being proposed by a group of investors led by Paul Edgerly, Jim Kavanaugh and Dave Peacock and known as SC STL. Edgerly, the lead investor, was a Managing Director at Bain Capital from 1990 until he retired last year. Peacock is the former President of Anheuser-Busch and the current chairman of the St. Louis Sports Commission. Kavanugh co-founded World Wide Technology and currently serves at its CEO. He is also the CEO of Saint Louis FC of the United Soccer League (USL).
In the public/private partnership deal SC STL has proposed, the state of Missouri would invest $40 million in the project while the city of St. Louis would contribute $80 million. SC STL would cover the rest of the stadium’s estimated cost of $205 million, including any cost overruns. The City of St. Louis would then own the stadium and the MLS team would essentially pay to rent it for games. The team has said it would sign an intial 30-year lease. SC STL has also pledged to cover stadium maintenance costs for the full 30-year lease term.
A 20,000 seat outdoor stadium could bring a host of new events to downtown St. Louis. Events that are maybe too small now for Busch Stadium would have a home. After the jump, you’ll find some events that could possibly fill the stadium’s calendar. Some are based on actual events held at comparable stadiums around the country and some (NFL) may be just wishful thinking.
What Events Could Fill The MLS Stadium’s Schedule?
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings played in the NHL’s Centennial Classic on New Year’s Day in Toronto. The game was held at BMO Field in Toronto, home of MLS side Toronto FC and the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.
The Canadian government, the Ontario province and the city of Toronto all contributed to the construction of BMO Field. The city is also contributing to a $120-million expansion.
End of the 2nd period. Leafs are trailing 1-0 to the Red Wings on @Sportsnet at Exhibition Stadium. #TMLtalk #CentennialClassic pic.twitter.com/UE3ZRKRdyC
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) January 1, 2017
With the stadium being built premiarily for soccer, hosting matches outside of the expected 20 MLS contests would be a key function of the stadium. St. Louis could potentionally welcome the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams for more meaningful games. As it stands now, St. Louis had not been a legitimate candidate to host games because of field constraints at Busch Stadium. The USMNT did play a World Cup Qualifier here in November 2015 that proved a regulation soccer field could be shoe-horned into Busch. The USWNT played to a crowd of 35,817 for a friendly match here in April 2015.
Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, home of Sporting KC, played host to the NCAA Division II Football Championship earlier this month for the second straight year. Northwest Missouri State beat North Alabama in what SB Nation called the “snow bowl of the year.” While this year’s game wasn’t exactly played in ideal spectator conditions, last year’s game drew a record crowd of 16,181.
One-handed snow catch! pic.twitter.com/a8d4KE2XRx
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) December 17, 2016
High School Football
The Missouri State High School Activitives Assocation (MSHSAA) held the Class 6 and 8-man State Championship games this season in Columbia at Memorial Stadium on Faurot Field. Since 1996, the State Chamionship games were held at the Edward Jones Dome here in St. Louis. While playing in a climate-controlled environment is more comfortable for fans, it wasn’t ideal for the teams having to play games considering many teams played games outdoors on grass all season. Playing a high school football game in a 70,000-seat stadium isn’t ideal either unless clear eyes, full hearts and the state of Texas are all involved. Classes 1-5 played their games at the 16,600-seat Plaster Stadium in Springfield, Missouri.
Bare with me on this one. If you think hosting a boxing match at a 20,000 seat outdoor arena built for soccer is crazy, you aren’t alone. Al Bernstein of the Boxing Channel was sceptical too, but admitted in 2014 that Stubhub Center in Los Angeles, home of the Los Angeles Galaxy, has brought him around. The stadium has become one of the premiere boxing venues in teh country.
St. Louis has its fair share of concert venues, but there’s a void that this MLS stadium could fill. If an artist wants to play an outdoor show in the city, Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Maryland Heights is about their only bet. Sure, Busch Stadium has hosted a few concerts, but it isn’t open to regular shows. Luke Bryan played Riverport last summer on his St. Louis stop. In Colorado, he played Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, home of the Colorado Rapids. BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston has had acts such as Ed Sheeran, Kenny Chesney and Kendrick Lamar grace its stage. Columbus, Ohio will be the site of Rock on the Range in May with Metallica, Soundgarden, Korn, Papa Roach, and many others playing Mapfre Stadium, home of the Columbus Crew of MLS.
For some people, having this potential concert venue downtown may not be a big deal. For those of us that have been excited to see a concert announced in town only to realize you have to go “over the river” to see it, having a downtown venue like this would be awesome.
Believe it or not, after all of the turmoil over the Rams bolting for Los Angeles, I am bringing this up. The only reason I do bring it up is because it has been reported that the San Diego Chargers have seriously looked into temporarily playing at the aforementioned StubHub Center should they move to Los Angeles. With the way NFL attendance seems to be going, a 20,000-seat venue may work out a lot better for a team in the league 20 years from now.
Getting a UFC card in St. Louis would probably take a bit more than just a new downtown stadium considering St. Louis has yet to host on. However, I’m just saying there’s a chance. While the UFC doesn’t make a habit of doing it, they have held an event in an open-air stadium in the past. UFC 112 in 2010 was held in an open-air venue in Abu Dhabi.
These are just a few of the events that could populate the calendar for a St. Louis MLS stadium. Be sure to check back with RealLifeSTL over the coming weeks for more articles about the possibily of bringing the MLS to St. Louis.
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