ST. CHARLES • Gov. Jay Nixon says he'll talk by phone later this week with the Major League Soccer commissioner about a potential expansion franchise for St. Louis but indicated that a decision on such a move is far off.
Nixon said the commissioner, Don Garber, sent him a letter reiterating MLS interest in St. Louis following the National Football League owners' decision to allow the Rams to leave.
Nixon emphasized that he is still in the early stages of looking into the economics of expansion.
"I just want to understand the business around it so if we would want to be involved in looking at St. Louis for that, then we would have a strong group here ready for it," the governor told reporters.
"I want to understand a little bit more about their process for expansion and their time frame."
Garber in his letter, dated Friday, said he was surprised and disappointed at the Rams' departure and "in the wake of recent developments" wanted to reaffirm his commitment to considering St. Louis as an expansion city.
"I look forward to working with you, your staff and local leaders to explore ownership candidates and to investigate viable stadium solutions to bring MLS to St. Louis," Garber said in the letter.
Nixon gave no hints of who might be involved in a possible ownership group or where a stadium might be located.
"I don't want to go into details until I have a chance to talk directly with the commissioner, other than to say with the finances involved with an MLS team, it opens up that opportunity with a much broader array of people," he said. That was a reference to the much greater expense involved in getting into the NFL.
Soccer-only stadiums also are usually much smaller than pro football venues, he added.
Nixon made his comments responding to reporters' questions following a mid-afternoon speech at offices of the Developmental Disabilities Resource Board of St. Charles County.
There he discussed his recent budget proposal to the Legislature to add $131 million in state and federal funding for developmental disabilities services across Missouri.
Among other things, it includes $14 million to keep the waiting list for in-home Medicaid services for developmentally disabled individuals at zero.
He urged the 100 or so people in attendance to help him convince the Legislature to approve his proposal. "I need everyone's help to keep this money in the budget" that is eventually passed, he said.