Out with Football, in with Fútbol?
With the Rams on the West Coast, many Saint Louisans have shifted their attention to other sports. The Blues had a spectacular season this past year (though it ended a few games earlier than I had hoped), but not everyone thinks that hockey and baseball alone can fill the void. MLS2STL is working to attract a Major League Soccer (MLS) team to the region in 2020, and while a new stadium may be built in hopes of securing a team, research tells us that such expenses rarely pay off.
An estimated 20 acres would be needed for construction, and the search for locations has been narrowed to three places, including one just west of Union Station. It might be more cost-effective to use the now-dormant Edward Jones Dome than to build a new stadium, but soccer-specific stadiums are becoming the norm, so the odds of re-purposing the Ram’s old home don’t look good.
I should note that MLS has not committed to bringing a team into Saint Louis yet, so we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves. But in any case, the overwhelming majority of research shows that sports stadiums do not generate significant economic growth and the revenues they bring in are insufficient to justify the use of public funds.
Of course, there is much more to having a team than just turning a profit. People take pride in having a team put their city on the map, and rallying behind a successful enterprise can be a fantastic experience. Saint Louis has a soccer fan base that will be understandably excited if the MLS decides to expand here. but as to how a new stadium should be funded, the research speaks for itself.