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Soccer fans pour into CityPark Stadium for pre-season match Wednesday night

The St. Louis City SC will play its first official match next year. Wednesday night provided a warmup for the team's development squad to break things in.

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis has long been a soccer town and now downtown will be a hotspot for soccer fans. 

St. Louis CITY SC previewed Major League Soccer’s newest stadium, CityPark, by hosting one of Europe’s top clubs, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, for an international friendly between CITY2 and Bayer 04, Wednesday night, just prior to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Wednesday night’s international friendly featured the STL City 2 team, the developmental squad for the St. Louis SC.

“An international friendly with a Champions League-caliber club is the perfect way to introduce our new world-class stadium and district to our fans, the greater soccer community and the world,” said St. Louis CITY SC President and CEO, Carolyn Kindle. “The Bayer 04 friendly will be the first opportunity for fans to see a match in our new 22,500-seat stadium and sample our best-in-class STLMade fan experience, which will reflect St. Louis’ diverse culinary and music scene, ahead of our inaugural 2023 season.”

The St. Louis City SC will play its first official match as a Major League Soccer expansion franchise next year. 

Wednesday night provided a warmup for the team's development squad to break things in. Fans made sure they were there to say they are ready for soccer.

"We’re here to see the opening friendly game for the St. Louis soccer team,” Mel Shedd, a soccer fan on a family outing from Chesterfield, said with excitement.

"I actually used to play on a soccer team,” 10-year-old Wyatt Shedd said.

In fact, he may be the reason his family is here.

"I never would've been paying attention to this whole soccer stuff and he just kind of opened my eyes and I’m like 'Alright...sure...let's do it,'" his father Elias Shedd said.

They are joining the droves of soccer fans who came to CityPark Stadium for the very first time. 5 On Your Side was there when the gates opened.

“It's going to be a huge opportunity for our business…for all small businesses that are coming out of the pandemic that all these restaurants have been through, and this is a huge opportunity for 100% local vendors in one stadium,” Danni Eickenhorst of Steve’s Hot Dogs said.

"I'm mostly proud that I feel like the St. Louis community is coming together. I think seeing all the local businesses, local artists,” soccer fan Jonathan Neal said.

There was even live music for soccer fans ahead of the big friendly. Also, before the match, fans got to see the St. Louis City SC's first official team jersey, also known as "kits."

Fans who pre-ordered them were able to grab theirs as Adidas was on hand to offer a free inaugural 2023 season patch to be stamped on the back of the kit.

All of the fun meant battling the frigid temperatures.

"I put on everything I own…It's so cold out. But it's going to be great,” Elias and Mel Shedd said.

A live musician told the crowd that he wasn't going to lie, this was the absolute coldest he ever performed in. But when it means being part of history, it made it all worth it.

"Go St. Louis,” Elias Shedd said.

In addition to food trucks that were on hand outside, there were 52 local vendors inside the stadium.

Wednesday night is offering a sneak peak of what's to come. 

Energy, excitement, and enthusiasm welcomes St. Louis SC as we prepare for 2023.

If there's something newsworthy happening where you live send us an email to tips@ksdk.com and our team of reporters will look into it.

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