After years of speculation, a Midwestern Major League Rugby franchise could be on the horizon.
A Saint Louis-based group wants in the MLR. It could get its wish.
A Saint Louis group is not a new revelation. Internet chatter is as old as the league itself, while Commissioner George Killebrew identified Saint Louis as a potential landing spot in a February 2021 issue of On The Front Foot. RFT has reviewed public documents indicating that the dream is pushing closer to reality.
Karen Ahlemeyer, organizer of Rugby STL, has taken the lead on the matter. The group’s interest dates back to August 2019 or earlier. An August 12th, 2019 meeting of the Board of Education of the City of Saint Louis’ Real Estate Committee is the first trace of interest. At that meeting, the committee recommended to the Board of Education that ‘a 25 year ground on the athletic field at the Gateway Complex for a stadium and practice field for St. Louis Navigators, a proposed professional rugby expansion team.’ The request came from Ahlemeyer and Saint Louis-area property developer Paul McKee.
In October of 2020, CityScene STL (which tracks city development projects within Saint Louis) released a map of the NorthSide Regeneration Master Plan. The plan includes both a rugby stadium and practice field.
A year later, in October of 2021, Ahlemeyer (via representation) filed for a pair of Limited Liability Companies with the Missouri Secretary of State’s office. The first operates under the name ‘St. Louis Knights, LLC.’. The second operates under the name ‘STL Major League Rugby Club, LLC’. Both LLCs were approved.
In the same month, the group applied for two trademarks:
Both trademarks will take a minimum of six months to receive full approval.
The Saint Louis Knights name was formerly used by a now-defunct professional soccer team. That trademark has since expired.
There’s many things we don’t know:
- Is this bid one of the two currently in exclusive negations with the League?
- Would this team enter in 2023?
- If the new stadium comes to pass, would it be ready for a 2023 campaign?
- If there is a gap between inaugural campaign and a stadium being built, where would they play? (Internet chatter suggests that has been answered, but I’m not one to spread rumors without a good source.)
What we do know is that this group is well past a point of general interest. The train is moving. Will that train pull into St. Louis Union Station?
Only time will tell.
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