One of the biggest obstacles front office members of St. Louis’ expansion MLS team have faced in 2023 has nothing to do with the sport of soccer.
Executives of St. Louis City SC, which currently resides in the top-spot of the MLS Western Conference with 32 points, see the failure of the legislature to pass Missouri sports betting as a major missed opportunity.
In an interview with BetMissouri.com, Jason Thein, who serves as the club’s chief operating officer, said CITY SC shares other teams’ frustration at the lack of wagering progress..
“St. Louis CITY SC, along with other Missouri sports teams, see legal wagering as a way to increase engagement with our fans and provide an exciting new way to enjoy sports and root for our teams,” Thein said. “It is an avenue for fans to engage more deeply with our leagues, players and clubs. Specifically, from CITY’s perspective, we are a new team in a league new to the state.”
Why Missouri Sports Betting Matters
Thein described the adoption of legal Missouri betting apps as a no-brainer for bolstering fan engagement — though CITY SC would especially benefit from such an arrangement given the club’s status as an MLS expansion team.
On the pitch, St. Louis City SC is currently on pace to knock off the 1998 Chicago Fire as the best first-year MLS expansion team in league history — with the team’s current 57.3 points projection ahead of the Fire’s 56 points as the league’s most for a first-year club.
Between the potential to bolster engagement and provide supporters with a gameday entertainment option many have clamored for, Thein sees sports betting as a win-win.
“Based on the popularity of sports betting across the U.S. and in Missouri’s neighboring states, we believe there is broad support amongst our fans, and many lawmakers, for safe and legalized sports betting,” Thein said.
“We hope to find consensus to bring Missouri in line with the 37 other states — six of them being our neighbors — that allow sports wagering for their citizens and sports fans."
Coming-Home Party For St. Louis Soccer
When asked about the club’s top-10 ranking leaguewide in attendance (with CITY SC ranking eighth in average attendance, at 22,423 fans per game), Thein highlighted St. Louis’ unique connection with the game.
Given St. Louis’ history with association football and the city’s longstanding ties with the men’s and women’s national teams, the immediate impact has been of little surprise to executives.
“St. Louis is America’s First Soccer City. We started playing soccer in the 1870s, bolstered by the city’s thriving immigrant community who brought the game from their home countries to St. Louis churches, neighborhoods, and schools,” Thein said. “Many of us grew up playing soccer in school — and St. Louis has had men and women on every U.S. national team since the 1950s. As we like to say — CITY didn’t bring professional soccer to St. Louis; it was a homecoming.”
Pro Teams ‘Incredibly Supportive’ of CITY SC
In Year One of the St. Louis City SC era, Thein said the club’s front office has been amazed by the continued outpouring of support Missouri’s fellow professional sports franchises (such as the Blues and Cardinals) have shown.
That camaraderie extends to the teams’ shared desire for sports betting (which will feature many Missouri sportsbook promos for fans), as each of the Show Me State’s teams see how much of an impact wagering has had in Illinois, Kansas and Iowa.
“Professional sports teams often work closely on issues that benefit of our fans and the region,” Thein said. “Together, we are united in our goal of supporting a responsible sports wagering law that is good for our teams, our fans, and the citizens of Missouri.”