St. Louis, Soccer, MLS discussed on Bloomberg Business of Sports


Louis city going to the league with 5 minutes to play. The Brazilian intent on setting yet more history of the opening night of the season for the newest team in MLS Fantastic summary there, joining us now to speak about all of this is Carolyn Kendall. She is president and CEO of St. Louis city SC, the newest club in the MLS. Carolyn, thank you so much for joining us today. Thank you for having me. So you are a newcomer to soccer, but not St. Louis because you've got deep, deep roots in the city. And I know that you've been trying to bring a pro team to St. Louis for a while now. Why soccer? Why MLS? Well, I think you sort of a great question to sort of introduce this whole concept. So my grandfather, Jack Taylor, founder of enterprise holdings, really believed and giving back to the city of St. Louis that supported us all these years. To make enterprises successful and he had passed us through the generations. So my mom and my uncle and my aunt certainly myself and my cousins. And so one of the things that this family and the entire ownership group was very excited about was really what it could do for the city of St. Louis. And so when we started thinking about as the Taylor family, what was the next big project? And what would be a great way to elevate the city of St. Louis back to an international stage, everybody kept saying soccer. And so it began in 2018, summer of 2018, but we really started to kind of do our research and we found out that obviously soccer is an international sport, has a great fan base, demographics are quite different from some of the other sports. We have here in St. Louis, but we thought it was a great way to really bring all of the micro communities in St. Louis together to support their official soccer football team. Carolyn is Stan Schwartzman. First off, congratulations on getting the franchise up and running there You know, you look at that city and it's a great sports city. The Cardinals have such a classic historic fan base, the rams didn't leave because they didn't have fans. There was a lot more to it. The blues obviously are also a team with a deep fan base. When you project attendance figures as the years go on, what are you looking at here? Are you looking at kind of a Columbus model 1820 5000 or do you think you guys can grow into more of a major market like the New York team's LA? So our stadium holds 22,500 currently. I think our plan is to sort of hold it that number, at least for 5 to 6 years because what we really want to do is make sure that we're filling our stadium for every match. Obviously, you're inaugural year. You don't really about ticket sales or filling that stadium, but we want to make sure that between certainly the product on the pitch, but it's also more than that. We want to offer an elevated food and beverage service. We partnered with 25 local restaurants to make it truly a unique experience. And so you as a person and individual can find different ways to enjoy match day. So whether it's through music, whether it's through food and beverage or whether it's through the sport, we want to make sure that we're constantly refreshing the products that we have to offer. So it is more than just a match So Caroline, you know, I want you to take me through what it's like to be one of the few majority owned female teams in all of sports. And look, I understand Jack's your grandfather, by the way, for all our listeners, enterprise holdings, if Alamo rental car enterprise rental car, that's Carolyn's family, just to be clear, but you also bought the team alongside the Kavanaugh family and Jim Kavanaugh. If I'm not mistaken once played soccer for the LA lasers, a major indoor soccer team with by the time and I'm curious, what's their involvement here? What's it like to be one of the few female majority on teams in professional sports? Well, I think it starts really with a great foundation of two really strong businessmen. So yes, Jim Kavanaugh was a very successful soccer player, but he also founded cofounded a very successful business here in St. Louis. And so when you really look at the majority female ownership, I sort of joke around a little bit because that really was just how my family was constructed. My uncle Andy at was the last mail born into the family and all the generations below him. But when you look at it from a business perspective, what better than to have two very strong successful families come together. And so it's certainly about sport, but it really at the end of the day is about a business. And so one of the things I think we're very happy about is we try to be very thoughtful about hires diversity and all sense of the word, however you identify what community you come from, there's a role for you to play here, but more importantly, if you are the best in that position, we're so excited to have you be part of city SV. I'm curious also how that translates into the planning and the execution on everything related to the club, including the infrastructure. I'm thinking about city park as the first post pandemic stadium built to avoid long lines and crowd surges, but as a woman, I'm thinking it should have more female bathroom stalls than most stadiums because women end up in these long lines while men move through very quickly. So I'm happy to confirm that we do have more females, bathrooms. Thank you. My friend joked around that she's clearly you helped design the stadium because that might be one of the most beautiful public restrooms I've ever been in. But no, I mean, in all honesty though, I think having that female majority ownership, there are certain things that we think about. But I think it's also important to point out that we've really tried to engage people from the community. And from all communities really, because we really want to understand how people are going to feel safe and comfortable and really appreciate and look forward to coming to city park, whether it's match day or not match day. Carolyn, the league has grown exponentially obviously over the years to where you have the first $1 billion franchise now according to Forbes. That is LA, of course. One of the two, and the other ones were 9 25, I think. It's made huge strides. That said, though, recently, Cristiano Ronaldo was a free agent and we know Kansas City apparently made a big effort to get him. Instead he goes to Saudi Arabia takes the money. Do you think MLS as a league and all the owners together should have probably done more because of what it could have brought to the league in terms of notoriety to bring in a guy of that stature? Good question. You know, I can't really honestly speculate on what other owners should do. I think one of the things. And by the way, the MLS ownership group has been absolutely amazing to me and my family throughout this whole process. So whether it was tours of their stadium, letting us talk to their teams as well. So I think from that perspective, this ownership group really does believe in supporting one another. I think the other side to that is, I think there's so much amazing homegrown talent here in the United States. And I think that you have clubs that are really excited to start being able to use their academy system, the development team. And really just bring U.S. soccer players to an international level as well. Selfishly and St. Louis, we have some of the best academy kids hands down. And they continue to win tournaments, improve themselves and one thing I would like to do in a couple of years is be watching a World Cup match and say that was a kid that came from St. Louis. Carolyn, I agree with you on that. The talent level here in America has grown, but that said, though, a lot of the top players like Weston mckenney, Christian Pulisic, sergino dest, they all go to Europe to play. So even from, say, FC Dallas academy. What can be done over the next few years and you now, as one of the owners here, of course, in the league, to try to keep that homegrown cream of the crop talent from not going to Europe and staying here in kind of showing us what they can do. Well, I think you've got a couple things that are really exciting. So the MLS partnership with Apple, I mean, that's the first of its kind. And so I think that that's really going to be able to

Coming up next