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Soccer facility will be unique, welcoming, officials and contractors pledge

ST. LOUIS – The buildings of the new St. Louis City SC soccer franchise will do more than provide the best facilities the management can provide to the team and its fans. The  project will offer a place for all St. Louisans, team officials and contractors said in a video news conference this week.

Construction of the open-air stadium for the team started less than 90 days ago.

“When we last met in December, our focus was on our world-class stadium in Downtown West and how art and architecture are coming together to bring connectivity and accessibility alive,” Matt Sebek, the team’s chief experience officer, said in a video news conference this week. 

“As it emerges out of the ground, you can see it taking on a life form of its own, as it becomes an integral part of our St. Louis skyline, whether you’re looking from the north, south, east or west,” Sebek said in the news conference on Thursday. “Our ownership group vision is consistent and simple, and that is to be an exceptional club and neighbor.” 

Much of the news conference focused on what’s going on outside of the stadium.

Construction of the St. Louis City SC practice fields and training area, looking east.
The speakers said theirs would be the only Major League Soccer club with a team headquarters, practice facility, training fields and stadium in one centralized downtown location. 

The stadium, training center, team pavilion and headquarters are set for completion about the same time in 2022. The first season is scheduled for 2023.

Besides three practice fields and a training and performance center for the team’s players, plans for south of Market Street now include a team store, fan pavilion and club headquarters.   

Carolyn Kindle Betz, St. Louis City SC Chief Executive Officer, said: “Our updated stadium district plan not only gives us a distinctive home-field advantage by creating a central hub for [the team], but it also expands our presence and will continue to act as a catalyst for more development in Downtown West.” She said the stadium district would help bring more development to Downtown West. 

Plans call for a two-story, public-facing pavilion with both indoor and outdoor gathering spaces including the team store, a café and a second story for events and conferences, open throughout the year.   

Also, the Union Square Plaza building near the other facilities at 326 S. 21st Street will be renovated as the team headquarters. 

The club’s athletic training and performance center will have three training fields and a training center near the stadium. A field south of Clark Street will have artificial turf, while natural grass will cover two fields north of Clark.

Construction at the south end of the soccer project on March 5, 2021.
Team sporting director Lutz Pfannenstiel said the fact that everything was together made it special. He also said building a team from scratch was one of the most exciting projects in the international sport of soccer, or football as it’s called outside the United States.

Those working on the project looked at facilities in Europe and picked the best parts, Pfannenstiel said.

Pfannenstiel was born in West Germany; he has been a goalkeeper, coach, coaching instructor and on-air football contributor. He will be in charge of everything on the field, include finding and signing players, recruiting coaches, hiring staff members and putting together a youth academy.  

Jim Merkel

southsidemerkel@gmail.com Born and raised in the St. Louis area, Jim Merkel covered communities throughout the area from 1991 to 2013 for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. He is the author of five books about the Gateway City published by Reedy Press. The latest is Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of south St. Louis with Miss Jenny the Cat. For more about Jim, visit www.jimmerkelthewriter.com.

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