Chances St. Petersburg will get a Major League Soccer expansion franchise improved Tuesday after voters in St. Louis rejected a proposal to use public money for a new soccer stadium.
For a city that just lost the NFL Rams, St. Louis residents could just not justify spending $60 million for a new stadium. The stadium plan lost by 3,000 votes, 47 to 53 percent.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, MLS commissioner Don Garber said he was “’confident’ St. Louis would get an expansion team in the league if the stadium got public financing.”
The league is looking to grow from 24 to 28 teams; two new clubs will be announced this year, teams will begin playing by 2020.
St. Louis was one of about dozen cities, including St. Petersburg, vying for an expansion team.
MLS representative Dan Courtemanche told the Post-Dispatch that the defeat was “clearly a significant setback for the city’s expansion opportunity and a loss for the community.”
Tampa Bay Rowdies owner Bill Edwards promised the City of St. Pete that no taxpayer money would be used to expand Al Lang Stadium in his bid for an expansion slot.
Edwards also said he would pay the $150 million expansion fee.
St. Pete is holding a referendum May 2 to ask voters to allow the city to negotiate with Edwards for up to a 25-year lease for Al Lang Stadium. It is an essential part of the Rowdies receiving the MLS bid.