A group of investors said they’ll lift the burden off taxpayers when it comes to building a Major League Soccer stadium in downtown St. Louis.
Foundry St. Louis is one of two groups trying to bring an MLS team to St. Louis. The other group, SC STL, is already working with MLS. Now, Foundry wants in, and hope an $80 million investment will make that happen.
In the past two months, the investment groups have unveiled separate plans to build soccer stadiums in St. Louis. The first, by Foundry Saint Louis, was proposed to be built in Midtown. The other group, SC STL, wants to build a new 20,000-seat stadium near Union Station downtown, and has a verbal agreement with MLS to bring a team to St. Louis.
Now, it appears Foundry wants to join forces with SC STL to be part of the Union Station proposal.
Foundry St. Louis sent a letter to David Peacock of SC STL stating it would pay the $80 million the group was going to ask taxpayers to cover for the new stadium.
"It's no secret that Foundry St. Louis has compiled an ownership group passionate about bringing an MLS expansion team to the city. We feel it is in the taxpayers' best interest for us to contribute those resources to SC St. Louis, essentially guaranteeing an MLS team and stadium that is privately funded to create a win-win situation for both the league and St. Louis community," Dan Cordes, CEO of Foundry St. Louis said in a statement to Five on Your Side.
In a letter just released to the public, Cordes said his group would cover 40 percent of the construction costs of this stadium, which would be located near Union Station.
SC STL proposed that amount would be funded by taxpayers. A stadium tax could be on the ballot this April. Foundry is hoping to reach a deal with SC STL before then.
Foundry St. Louis Executive Vice President Ross Clites said, “That way, it’ll negate any need for an April vote. In theory, that would take away the opportunity for Major League Soccer to say no.”
In a statement, SC STL Spokesperson Jim Woodcock stated his group “was always, from the start, unaffiliated with any other effort.” Additionally, SC STL Vice-Chariman Jim Kavanaugh said he is unsure what Foundry's intentions are with the offer.
I'm hopeful they're sincere about wanting to bring an MLS team to St. Louis," she said, "and they're intent is not to distract, but support what we are doing."
Still, Clites says Foundry’s $80 million offer won’t expire.
“If that April vote goes no, then they’re prepared – they being Major League Soccer – are prepared to move on," Clites said. "They have other suitors across the country, so we feel like we’re not going to be the road block; we’re going to be the last best hope for this group because if they don’t raise that 80 million dollar gap on their own, they’re looking at a very prominent no vote in April.”
In exchange, Clites said his group wants a say in the building of the stadium, and branding of the team.
“This was our bold strategy to propel ourselves back into the discussion,” he said.
Clites says the money will come from a key group of about 8 investors, together worth more than $2 billion.
SC STL's original plan was to have city taxpayers vote in April on a proposal to cover half of the new stadium's estimated $160 million price tag.
Kavanaugh thinks the MLS will clarify their intentions in the near future.
"They've[Foundry] talked about their engagement with the MLS, which I don't think it's exactly what they're articulating," Kavanaugh said. "I think the MLS is going to come out and communicate specifically the partnership we[SC STL] have with them and they're going to be focused on one organization, and that's us."
MLS declined a request for comment.