Hopes for an Major League Soccer franchise for St. Louis rise and fall like the tide. High tide, low tide, in-between tide. Jeff Cooper’s St. Louis United group is doing a great job selling the city, its soccer tradition, its stadium site and its investment group.
Well, at least they’re doing a great job selling the first three. As for the investment group, it seems the league brass want more billionaires. At least that’s their current song. But from here, it’s off-key.
It looks like just another hurdle thrown in SLSU’s path by MLS. The league seems bent on making life difficult for Cooper’s group.
Whatever the case, Cooper keeps plugging away. Once part of the SimmonsCooper law firm of East Alton, he’s devoting all his attention now to getting a men’s pro soccer team for St. Louis. Last time we checked, the decision on two expansion cities was going to be made in late March, but that may be set back again. Cooper’s got a stadium deal, he’s got a blue-ribbon group of investors (including Albert Pujols), but there’s no guarantee MLS won’t look the other way and give the two teams to Portland, Oregon, Vancouver or Ottawa.
When Anheuser-Busch transferred ownership of its 27-year-old soccer park to SLSU last week, some media types exclaimed A-B was getting into the expansion race and Collinsville has a rival for the stadium.
Not true. Of course, SLSU will look into the feasibility of placing its 18,000-seat stadium at the site in Fenton, Mo., but the real plus behind the brewery getting involved was just that – it’s involved. A major sponsor of MLS, A-B just flexed its muscle a little and that can’t hurt.
From here, it looks like Vancouver could be a lock for one of the teams – the league wants more exposure in Canada. So, it could boil down to St. Louis vs. – Portland?
If Portland gets a team instead of St. Louis, there will be a lot of head-shaking going on among the old-time soccer folks in town – and I’ll be leading the way.
Cooper refuses to get caught up in the “this town vs. that town” talk. Always a barrister, he’s quick to point out the strengths of the league, the efficiency of its management and its expansion process in general.
Here’s hoping it’s well-deserved praise.