Tuesday, February 18, 2014

One Step Closer to the MLS? St. Louis Soccer Club Owners Want USL Pro Team by 2015

Posted By on Tue, Feb 18, 2014 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge Sergio Aguero, one of the top players in the English Premier League, plays Bosnia-Herzegovina at Busch Stadium. - JON GITCHOFF
  • Jon Gitchoff
  • Sergio Aguero, one of the top players in the English Premier League, plays Bosnia-Herzegovina at Busch Stadium.

Two St. Louis soccer club owners are working together to bring a professional outdoor soccer team back to town with lofty hopes of attracting a Major League Soccer franchise.

Tony Glavin, owner and coach of the St. Louis Lions, and Andrew Haines, owner of the St. Louis Ambush indoor soccer team, say they're submitting an application and rounding up investments for a new professional United Soccer Leagues team in 2015.

"We felt the timing was right," Glavin tells Daily RFT. "This has always been my goal. I think the area has been crying out for something."

See also: If We're Such a Soccer Town, Why Doesn't St. Louis Have a Major League Soccer Team?

Glavin says three recent showcase matches played at Busch Stadium and the Edward Jones Dome reignited passions for a professional team in St. Louis, long known in sports circles as the birthplace of American soccer.

"St. Louis has a rich history in soccer," Glavin says. "We want to capture that and bring it back to the arena."

click to enlarge Bosnia fans light flares during the game against Argentina at Busch Stadium. - JON GITCHOFF
  • Jon Gitchoff
  • Bosnia fans light flares during the game against Argentina at Busch Stadium.

The match between Chelsea F.C. and Manchester City F.C. sold out Busch Stadium last year with a crowd of 48,000 fans, and when Real Madrid played Inter Milan months later, 54,000 people filled the Edward Jones Dome. Attendance was slightly lower at the friendly between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Argentina at over 30,000 fans, but but the fiery fervor of Bosnia's cheering section made it clear: St. Louis is seriously a soccer city.

See also: Despite Rumors, No Sign of U.S., Bosnia-Herzegovina Friendly Soccer Match in St. Louis

So why a USL professional team?

A few reasons. For starters, of the last six cities to get franchises with the MLS, five had USL pro teams, Glavin says.

If St. Louis wants to attract the major leagues, fans have to prove they'll support a team. Talk is cheap, Glavin says. Can a professional St. Louis team get butts in seats?

Find out why else St. Louis wants a USL professional team on the next page.

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