Local group formed to attract MLS expansion franchise to St. Louis

MLS statement on George Floyd

ST. LOUIS (AP) Dave Peacock, the former Anheuser-Busch executive who led the failed effort to keep the Rams in St. Louis, is part of a group trying to attract an MLS expansion franchise to the city.

The NFL task force had proposed a $1 billion riverfront stadium that would also be suitable for soccer. The new task force, which also includes Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III, is being called the MLS2STL Group.

The MLS board of governors has said it supports expansion to 28 clubs, with a 24-team league by 2020. Atlanta, Los Angeles and Minnesota will join the next three years and Miami, backed by David Beckham, is the likely 24th team.

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Dan Courtemanche, MLS executive vice president of communications, said the league is evaluating future expansion plans and anticipated announcing a process and timeline “in the coming months.”

MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a statement that St. Louis was a “tremendous soccer market” and that he anticipated working with the group to “further evaluate St. Louis.”

Garber visited St. Louis last May and said then that the city would be a top contender in expansion if stadium plans are fulfilled.

The league will be seeking committed local ownership, a comprehensive stadium plan where the ownership controls the venue, markets attractive to sponsors and TV partners and with a history of strong fan support for soccer matches and other sporting events.

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Several soccer exhibitions over the last few years have all been strong draws in St. Louis.

Jim Woodcock, senior vice president and partner at FleishmanHillard public relations, also is a holdover from the NFL group.

Other members include Jim Kavanaugh, an investor/owner of St. Louis Football Club of the United Soccer League and St. Louis Blues of the NHL, and Chris Zimmerman, president and CEO of Scottrade Center, Peabody Opera House and the Blues.