Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper and Charlotte soccer fans are still waiting for word on whether Major League Soccer will put a franchise here. But the league announced Tuesday that St. Louis will become its 28th team.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber made the announcement in St. Louis, alongside city officials and an ownership group led by Carolyn Kindle Betz. That makes St. Louis the league's first team with a woman majority owner. Betz is president of the Enterprise Holdings Foundation, the charitable arm of car rental firm Enterprise. Co-owners are the Taylor Family, which owns Enterprise, and technology CEO Jim Kavanaugh.
St. Louis will play its first game in 2022 a new downtown stadium expected to cost more than $200 million.
Betz made her pitch for a team last month at the MLS owners' meeting in Orlando. In a statement Tuesday, she said: "It’s an incredible feeling. ... Our MLS team and stadium will only add to St. Louis’ renaissance currently underway and will provide us with a great opportunity to bring together many different segments of the community, uniting people in their love for the game.”
Tepper and Panthers President Tom Glick have met with MLS officials as well, and Tepper has said he'd like to bring a pro soccer team to Charlotte as soon as possible. The team already has announced soccer-related deals, including a lead sponsor, Ally Financial.
Major League Soccer currently has 24 teams and is the midst of an expansion. Including St. Louis, four new teams have been announced. Inter Miami and Nashville SC will join next season, Austin FC in 2021 and St. Louis in 2022. The league announced plans in April to add two more teams.