ST. LOUIS – America’s first soccer capitol prepares for a major milestone: The inaugural season of St. Louis CITY SC.

The 2023 MLS season kicks off Saturday, Feb. 25 with CITY SC visiting Austin FC in Texas for the first regular-season match in franchise history. CITY SC returns to St. Louis next weekend for the home opener on Saturday, March 4.

As St. Louis prepares to welcome its first MLS team to a growing sports landscape, here are five things worth knowing about the CITY SC franchise.

1. Origins of STL soccer and CITY SC

The earliest origins of soccer in St. Louis trace back to the late 19th century. In nearly a century and a half, St. Louis area soccer teams have combined for 91 national championships on a professional, amateur, and college level, according to the MLS.

The St. Louis region has also produced 61 US national team players and 31 members of various soccer hall-of-fames. Prior to CITY SC’s arrival, the Gateway City also hosted eight international friendlies and high-profile matches over the past decade.

St. Louis did not originally submit a bid for an MLS team when the league first formed in the 1990s. As early as 2008, St. Louis began pushing for an MLS team, but fell short in initial bids for a team via expansion and relocation.

In late 2018, an investment group led by Carolyn Kindle-Betz submitted another bid for an MLS team, and the St. Louis Board Aldermen approved a longtime plan for a stadium near Union Station. MLS officially granted St. Louis a franchise on Aug. 20, 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic led the league to push back the inaugural season one year back from its intended start in 2022.

2. Deep meanings of name, logo and jersey

It took nearly one year after St. Louis won an MLS team for the franchise to announce “St. Louis CITY SC” as its official name. Fans had submitted more than 6,000 entries for possible names prior to the ultimate decision.

According to an Aug. 2020 announcement from the team, the name represents the heritage of the St. Louis region, celebrates the city of St. Louis’ diverse neighborhoods and depicts the region’s growth and cultural renaissance. The SC in the name carries multiple meanings, “Soccer Club” and “Soccer Capitol,” as a tribute to the St. Louis region’s rich history of soccer.

St. Louis CITY SC’s logo specifically has a crest with the Gateway Arch and two lines that symbolize the region’s two rivers (the Mississippi River and Missouri River). The top-center of the logo’s shield is also shaped like the Gateway Arch.

The team’s inaugural home jersey is primarily “city red” with “river blue,” “energy yellow” and “arch steel gray” striping. The first road jersey, also known as the “Spirit Kit” is primarily Arch gray with thin blue vertical striping, symbolic of steel beams that anchor the stadium.

3. Stadium experience

CITYPARK seats around 22,000 fans, a capacity larger than sold-out St. Louis Blues games. Whether in the first rows, suites or upper-level seats, every section offers a unique experience and a view within 120 feet of the pitch. An upper level-roof surrounds all sides of the stadium, intended to not only protect fans from intense sunlight, but also create a noisy atmosphere.

The St. Louis CITY SC mobile app offers an augmented reality feature that offers fans a virtual glimpse around the stadium, one way to learn of its layout and features before your first visit. Fans can enter from all four sides of the stadium, though the south side is closest to the practice facility, surrounding restaurants and large attractions like Union Station.

One of the team’s largest fan clubs, the St. Louligans, will attend home games and has organized some chants to cheer on CITY SC. The main one is called “We’re St. Louis City!” to the tune of Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” For more information on the fan club and their chants, click here.

There will be 52 food and drink concessions throughout the stadium, representing dozens of local brands and restaurants. Steve’s Hot Dogs, BBQ pork steak sandwiches and Balkan treat boxes are among the biggest hits. The food experience is branded as CITY Flavor. For more information on concessions, click here.

Union Station is one of the best bets for parking on match days, though there are also some lots and garages closer to SLU’s campus or the Enterprise Center for those who don’t mind a longer walk. There are also some options along 15th and 18th streets. For more information on parking and travel considerations, click here.

4. Preseason strides

While CITY SC finished the preseason slate with a 1-2-3 record (three draws), don’t let the results distract you from the big picture. The team focused heavily on its transition game and ball control throughout preseason, which began in Florida and recently led to a few practices on St. Louis soil.

In six preseason matches, CITY SC averaged around two goals per game and earned two clean sheets. Eights players scored at least once, and most starting lineups included several regulars. CITY SC dominated in its lone win against Inter Miami CF on Jan. 28, a friendly in which both clubs agreed to 60-minute halves to alternate lineups and build endurance.

Midfielder Eduard Löwen and winger Indiana Vassilev were among the most active on the scoresheet and minutes played this preseason. Days ahead of the season opener, the team named prized goaltender Roman Bürki as captain and established veteran Tim Parker as vice captain.

Just a few weeks ago, the team placed a giant soccer ball on display at Kiener Plaza in downtown St. Louis. It will remain there on a temporary basis for fans to take photos with it and get into soccer spirit.

5. How to attend or watch

CITY SC will host 17 home games at CITYPARK this season from early-March to mid-October. Some notable schedule trends.

  • Home opener is set for March 4 at 7:30 p.m. against Charlotte FC
  • CITY SC will host three home games in April and June, but no more than two any other month.
  • First home game against cross-state rival Sporting Kansas City is set for May 20 at 8:30 p.m.
  • There’s a stretch of four of five games at home from late-May to mid-June.
  • Soccer icon Lionel Messi could make the trip to St. Louis with Inter Miami CF this summer, currently scheduled for July 15 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Defending MLS champion Los Angeles Football Club visits St. Louis on Sept. 20 at 7:30 p.m.
  • The regular-season finale is set for Saturday, Oct. 21 against the Seattle Sounders FC at a time to be determined later.

For the full home schedule and to explore possible tickets to these games, click here.

Every CITY SC match will be broadcast live through MLS Season Pass on Apple TV. For those who don’t have an account, FOX 2 will carry the broadcast for June 11 match against the LA Galaxy, and FS1 will air matches with Sporting KC (May 20) and Austin FC (Aug. 20).

To sign up or check your eligibility for MLS Season Pass, click here.