The new renderings show a stadium built for a capacity of 22,500 to 25,500. (HOK and Snow Kreilich)

With MLS planning further expansion, new renderings released

When Major League Soccer last week announced plans to expand to 30 teams instead of the previously announced 28, it also said it wanted to “advance discussions” with ownership groups in Sacramento and St. Louis. Sacramento’s stadium plan has been set for years, awaiting MLS acceptance, but announcement of the two additional expansion slots has given fresh momentum to a new stadium plan in St. Louis.

Soon afterward, architects HOK, working with Julie Snow of Snow Kreilich Architects of Minneapolis, released the latest officialrenderings of a planned soccer stadium in the city’s Downtown West District. It would be built just west of Enterprise Center, where the NHL’s Blues play.

The soccer-specific venue aims for a capacity of 22,500 to 25,500. A major entry plaza will offer a pregame gathering space for fan processions and postgame celebrations.

An entryway at one corner of the proposed St. Louis soccer stadium. (HOK and Snow Kreilich)

HOK said in a release that the stadium will feature a translucent ethylene tetrafluoroethylene canopy to cover fans in the open-air venue and keep the stadium well-lit. Architects expect the roof form to “serve as an iconic landmark as visitors approach downtown St. Louis from the west.”

The playing surface will dip 40 feet below street level. Every seat will be within 120 feet of the field, with the closest seats 20 feet from the sideline.

By keeping the stadium design open to the north and east, designers aim to create a strong visual connection to the surrounding neighborhood. Included within the immediate build of the stadium will be a combination of mixed-use retail, restaurants and gathering spaces open all year. An alley for pop-up retail spaces is also part of the mix adjacent to the new building.

The St. Louis ownership group, led by Enterprise Rent-A-Car founders the Taylor family and St. Louis-based World Wide Technology’s CEO, Jim Kavanaugh,said the new stadium would host 18 to 20 regular-season MLS games and three exhibition games each season, allowing it to welcome a variety of events and concerts throughout the year.

The ownership group and architects will start meeting with create focus groups that help fill out the initial stadium renderings with potential fan experience elements. These groups will continue to meet and help define stadium amenities, food and beverage preferences, supporter group sections, rituals, songs and tailgating.

New stadiums have become the norm in MLS. Los Angeles FC joined MLS in 2018 in the new Banc of California Stadium. Minnesota United FC, which started play in the league in 2017, moved into Allianz Field, the newest stadium in MLS, in April.

FC Cincinnati became the league’s 24th team this season and a new stadium for the club is under construction, expected to open in 2021. Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC have both been announced as MLS expansion teams set to begin play in 2020. Both have plans for new stadiums, but construction hasn’t started on either. Austin FC will start in the MLS in 2021, hoping to break ground on a new stadium later this year.

With agreements in place with 27 clubs, the league plans to select the next two expansion teams by the July 31 All-Star Game. Sacramento and St. Louis remain the leading candidates for those slots. The timetable on adding the 30th team has not been decided by the league’s board of governors.