Major League Soccer made some welcome history in awarding its 28th club to St. Louis on Tuesday. When the team begins play as expansion side in 2022, it will be the first MLS franchise majority owned by women.
Carolyn Kindle Betz fronts a seven-woman group from the locally based Taylor family. Kindle Betz is the granddaughter of rental car magnate Jack Taylor and the president of the Enterprise Holdings Foundation.
Two other locals, Enterprise Holdings executive chairman Andy Taylor and businessman Jim Kavanaugh, a former professional player and the owner of lower-division Saint Louis FC, have minority stakes in the club.
“It’s an incredible feeling to now be able to say St. Louis is home to the first official majority female-led ownership group in MLS,” Kindle Betz said as part of the official announcement.
“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.”
St. Louis will also boast one of few majority-female ownership groups in all of professional sports.
Only one North American sports league, the NFL, has more than one female-owned franchise. Amy Adams Strunk owns the Tennessee Titans, Virginia Halas McCaskey the Chicago Bears, Martha Firestone Ford the Detroit Lions and Gayle Benson the New Orleans Saints.
Utah Jazz chairwoman Gail Miller is the only woman who serves as a majority owner in the NBA; the NHL and Major League Baseball have none.
The as yet-unnamed St. Louis MLS team was given the go-ahead just 10 months after submitting its bid to MLS, a timeframe league commissioner Don Garber described as unprecedented. The club will open play in a privately financed downtown stadium.
The city had a long history of supporting soccer and producing pros, including U.S. women’s national team stalwart and two-time World Cup champion Becky Sauerbrunn and MLS greats Steve Ralston and Brad Davis. Former New England Revolution star-turned-ESPN personality Taylor Twellman, who grew up in St. Louis, emceed Tuesday’s gala unveiling.
MLS currently features 24 teams, with Nashville and Miami set to begin play next year followed by Austin, Texas in 2021.
The top league in the United States and Canada plans to expand to 30 teams in the coming years, with Charlotte, Detroit, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Raleigh, Sacramento and Tampa/St. Petersburg among the cities vying for the final two spots.
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