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The ownership group hoping to bring a Major League Soccer expansion team to St. Louis checked another box off its to-do list Monday when it met with the MLS expansion committee at league headquarters in New York City.

Concrete details of the three-hour meeting remain scarce, in part because of the league’s gag order on expansion candidates. Topics discussed included updates on the ownership group’s pursuit of corporate sponsorship dollars in addition to stadium-site developments. The MLS expansion committee vets proposals before taking them to the league’s board of decision makers.

Ownership group leader Carolyn Kindle Betz and other members were not available to specifically comment Monday, an ownership group spokesperson said. But an upbeat statement from the group referred to the meeting as a “critical step” that featured the presentation of a “detailed plan.”

“First, we want to thank Major League Soccer and the Expansion Committee for the opportunity to share our ownership group’s vision for an MLS team in St. Louis,” Kindle Betz said in the statement. “We’re confident our proposal puts St. Louis in the best position to bring MLS to America’s first soccer capital.”

MLS owners decided in April to expand from 27 to 30 teams and enter exclusive discussions with Sacramento and St. Louis regarding spots No. 28 and No. 29. Several other cities continue to compete for spot No. 30.

“We had a productive meeting with the St. Louis group and look forward to continuing our discussions with them,” MLS said in a statement. “In addition, representatives from Charlotte’s MLS expansion bid visited MLS’ offices today to provide an update. Major League Soccer also continues to work closely with the ownership group representing Sacramento’s expansion bid, and we expect to meet again soon. The ownership groups from Charlotte, Las Vegas, Sacramento, St. Louis and other potential expansion markets are scheduled to attend MLS All-Star week festivities.”

The All-Star Game is set for July 31 in Orlando, Fla.

The St. Louis ownership group, led by Kindle Betz and World Wide Technology CEO Jim Kavanaugh, has proposed a primarily privately funded 22,500-seat stadium next to Union Station on Market Street just west of downtown.

Despite withdrawing from detailed public comments about the status of the expansion effort — in addition to the progress made by other expansion hopefuls — the St. Louis ownership group has maintained confidence that it is in a good position to secure a spot and field a team for the 2022 season.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber was impressed with his visit to St. Louis in March, when he received updates on stadium planning and met with potential corporate sponsors. He said then that St. Louis would need “formal and final” plans for stadium design, corporate support and detailed economics of team operation before the city landed a team.

As foreshadowed by the league statement, Garber probably will revisit expansion during his comments at All-Star Game events. The commissioner previously said he would like the league to nail down this wave of expansion by that date.

“This city has shown time and time again they’re ready for an MLS team,” Kindle Betz said in Monday’s statement. “From record-breaking attendance for the PGA Championship (last year) to the hysteria of the Blues winning the Stanley Cup (this summer), selling out watch parties at Enterprise Center and Busch Stadium for Game 7, our City knows how to show up and support our sports teams, and there’s absolutely no reason to doubt they would show up day in and day out for MLS.”


Soccer in St. Louis has a long history

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Ben Frederickson is a sports columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. You can follow him on Twitter (Ben_Fred), Instagram (benfredpd) and Facebook (BenFredPD).