Major League Soccer expansion franchise St. Louis CITY SC has unveiled further details about—and updated design renderings of—the 22,500-seat open-air stadium and surrounding downtown “stadium district” now underway in Missouri’s second-largest, soccer–loving city.
Featuring what the team calls an “integrated, powerfully accessible urban design,” the stadium, designed by HOK and Minneapolis-based Snow Kreilich Architects, is described in press materials as “more than just a sports venue” that will act as an inclusive public asset even on non-game days. The stadium is also envisioned as a “connection point” situated between two of the city’s top crowd-drawing cultural attributes: The Gateway Arch on the Mississippi riverfront, and historic Forest Park, which spans over 1,300 acres west of downtown St. Louis. A close neighbor of the under-construction stadium is St. Louis Union Station, which was the largest and busiest train terminal in the world when it opened in 1894 and is still a popular entertainment complex, complete with an aquarium and 200-foot-tall giant observation wheel that opened last year.
“We designed the stadium district to be more than just about sports. It’s a key connection point in Downtown West, linking Union Station and businesses on Olive Street, while anchoring the West end of the Gateway Mall,” explained Julie Snow, co-founder of Snow Kreilich Architects. “We envision a truly integrated stadium district that is part of the fabric of St. Louis. Not only will the energy from the stadium flow out into the district and the City, but the energy of the City will flow in.”
Per an update provided by CITY, the early construction phase, which began in February of this year and including site clearing, excavation, and foundation work, has now wrapped up. The construction team will begin placing structural steel at the site later this month. To help commemorate this construction milestone, a total of 11 soccer fans will have a chance to sign the stadium’s inaugural steel beam.
As for newly released design details regarding the roughly $400 million stadium, which will be open on all sides and lack a “back door,” they include: upper-level outdoor terraces with views of the St. Louis skyline that bring “the energy of the City within” and connect “every view, experience and the overall design to the fabric of St. Louis;” similarly view-engaging restaurant and concession areas in the northeast corner of the stadium; pitch-level loge boxes that “combine the intimacy of stadium box seats and upscale amenities of an Executive Suite;” various design enhancements to the East Plaza area meant to keep the district, situated at the western end of the Gateway Mall, accessible and fully activated throughout the year; and a new set of entry point facing 22nd Street that will accommodate fans entering the stadium from the northwest and southwest.
As reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the stadium was originally slated to be completed in March 2022 ahead of the MLS season, although the coronavirus has pushed back the stadium’s public debut back to the 2023 season. Despite the delay, the stadium is still on track to be completed in 2022. The 2023 season will be the first for CITY, which was established in August 2019 as the first women majority-owned MLS franchise. (The ownership group includes female members of the Taylor family of St. Louis-based Enterprise Rent-A-Car.)
Pandemic-related delays aside, the stadium project has been mostly smooth-sailing so far although preservationists were angered in September when the city approved plans to raze a row of brick buildings—non-historic but very characteristic of the Downtown West area—to make way for a stadium-adjacent surface parking lot. The move prompted alderwoman Christine Ingrassia to introduce legislation that would change how demolition applications are handled by the city.