How can a stadium be more than a stadium? The ownership group for the new Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise in St. Louis has a vision for creating a vibrant mixed-use stadium district in the city’s Downtown West neighborhood. The development includes the team’s offices, training space and two practice fields accessible to the community.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber said that this comprehensive stadium plan will “serve as a model for future professional sports teams in the U.S.”
In addition to creating a world-class home for the club and a hub for St. Louis’ thriving soccer community, the owners want this mixed-use district to catalyze downtown activity 365 days a year. Anchored by a compact stadium that fits comfortably into its urban neighborhood, the district will include spaces for hosting year-round community events, concerts, celebrations and a variety of outdoor activities.
The site lies across the street from historic Union Station and at the end of the Gateway Mall, a strip of green and public spaces linking the stadium to the Gateway Arch and Mississippi River.
The 22,500-seat stadium will be open and transparent, with views into the field from the neighborhood and views out to the city from the seating bowl. The stadium’s scale and form emerge from its urban context. The main concourse is level with the west end of the Gateway Mall, reinforcing the pedestrian scale. Its sleek form features a simple, flat portico along with tall, slender columns that frame the upper seating bowl.
A flat, translucent canopy provides protection for fans from the elements while letting in daylight. The canopy amplifies fan noise and creates a sense of enclosure, focusing attention and energy on the field.
The stadium provides an intimate fan experience at every price point, including in general seating areas, the fanatical supporters’ club and across diverse premium offerings. No seat will be more than 120 feet from the field, which will sit 40 feet below street level, reinforcing the pedestrian-friendly building scale.
By strategically keeping the stadium’s corners open, the design draws people together to enjoy the game while creating flexible plazas that can host non-game day events ranging from esports tournaments to wedding receptions. Street-level vendors will have stands that face out to the city.
Locally-inspired food and beverage options as well as state-of-the-art Wi-Fi and communications technology will help create an exceptional fan experience.
The stadium will open in time for the 2022 MLS season. HOK is collaborating with Minneapolis-based Snow Kreilich Architects.