We have one chance to get this right.

Because we’re dedicated to a broader, more engaging discussion about our city and the future of MLS here, we are hosting a stadium community design open house Thursday, March 31st here at SPACE (4168 Manchester).

The intent of the open house is to gather feedback from the general public and our collective vision for a major league soccer stadium in St. Louis. As fans and the general public take ownership of this effort, its opportunity for future success greatly increases.

The open house will provide attendees the opportunity to view images of recent MLS stadiums and weigh in on what features should be included in a St. Louis stadium. In addition to amenities and the design of the project itself, we’ll tabulate thoughts on stadium location and other issues.

Placing a major league sports stadium in an urban context has been a challenge for decades. American cities have latched onto the big projects as the silver bullet of urban revitalization. They’ve often fallen short on that promise.

A stadium isn’t a generator of vitality in and of itself, but rather an exciting component that gains as much from its immediate surroundings as it provides. While often using the right buzzwords, today’s stadiums interrupt the urban street grid, loom over neighboring buildings and present a form quite foreign to the city, regardless of their location.

A Major League Soccer stadium in St. Louis has the potential to be an exception. The 18,000-25,000 seat soccer-specific venues that MLS teams have been building are at a more human, urban scale than NFL or MLB palaces, and more open and engaging in the urban context than NBA or NHL arenas.

What has been successful to varied degrees in high-demand, high-growth markets requires more context and more thought in St. Louis. A stadium can’t simply be placed in relative proximity to other investments and ride a wave of overall market success.

While lacking an ocean view or mountain backdrop, St. Louis possesses a built environment second to none. An MLS stadium must both add and benefit from this asset. However, to this point a broader discussion on the city and stadium sites, in addition to design of the stadium itself, has been missing.

We’re dedicated to fostering this discourse for the betterment of St. Louis and the benefit of any future MLS franchise. Having a franchise all our own, starting in St. Louis, provides additional incentive to get the project right, from the club name, to ownership group, to site and design. This project can and should be of and by St. Louisans.

With excitement building in St. Louis about the possibility of earning an MLS franchise, it’s the perfect moment to explore the design possibilities of an urban stadium. Thoughtful and deliberate architecture and urban planning can be a big part of the stadium’s success, and help create an iconic and successful destination.

Now is the time to hear from St. Louisans and soccer fans!