ONLY ON 4: How sports champions growth, while leveraging St. Louis on global stage

‘We spend a lot of time on the challenges, and we have a lot to be proud of and tons of opportunity,’ St. Louis President and CEO Chris Zimmerman said.
St. Louis CITY SC, Blues and Cardinals graphic
St. Louis CITY SC, Blues and Cardinals graphic(Sara Bannoura)
Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 7:38 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Leaders of all three major sports teams came together in one room to talk about the St. Louis region’s story and share it with the world.

First Alert 4 talked with the leaders of the St. Louis Cardinals, Blues and CITY SC on Wednesday.

“When you focus on the sports itself, that’s all you need to do,” President of the St. Louis Cardinals William DeWitt III said.,

An effort described as greasing the wheels of international trade and creating a connection.

“There is a much bigger story to tell,” said Carolyn Kindle, CEO of St. Louis CITY SC.

Ingredients that make the recipe that puts the City of St. Louis on the map.

“We are in a fight with other cities trying to do the exact same thing,” President and CEO of the St. Louis Blues Chris Zimmerman said.

“It’s important for St. Louis to play a role in those discussions because great teams with great brands can translate internationally,” said DeWitt.

World Trade Center St. Louis pulled the owners of the three major professional sports organizations in the city into the same space to discuss the global impact their teams have in promoting St. Louis around the world, Wednesday. A sold-out crowd of more than 700 people filled the main ballroom at the Ritz-Carlton.

“St. Louis is a global city,” said Tim Nowak, the executive director of World Trade Center St. Louis

Nowak said the MLB London series between the Cardinals and Cubs is a prime example of St. Louis’ growing international exposure through sports.

“We hosted a number of different meetings with businesses looking at investing in North America,” Nowak said. “Why wouldn’t they pick St. Louis to do business? These are unique opportunities that we need to be leveraging to promote St. Louis on the global scale.”

DeWitt III points to St. Louis’ geographic location as a key to tapping an international connection for trade and economic development.

“If we give up a home game or two to play in England, South America, Latin America, Australia, there was a game,” DeWitt III explained. “I think it’s worth it because you can generate that audience and buzz that comes back through tourism.”

Another success this year is the inaugural season of St. Louis CITY SC.

The diversity of the most global sport is evident in the nine international CITY SC players and diverse fan base.

“To bring people from all communities together,” Kindle explained. “To have these people that live in these neighborhoods in the region come together and cheer on their favorite St. Louis soccer team, it’s been amazing to watch.”

The new franchise has helped fuel neighboring businesses to launch and prosper.

“On the global stage, we have got to stand up and show our pride for all that’s great about St. Louis,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman’s global understanding of St. Louis goes beyond the St. Louis Blues, but his work in previous markets and working with global brands, like Nike He points to international friendlies, NASCAR, the PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club in 2018, and others are part of that global experience.

“Look at what happened when the Blues won the cup and what that scene was under the arch,” Zimmerman shared. “There is so much love and pride around how we approach sports and part of our job is that we are out there working to bring other great world events to St. Louis, and it’s happening.”

These leaders said sports can showcase the city’s finest offerings amid challenges such as public safety and crime.

“When you focus on the sports itself, that’s all you need to do,” DeWitt shared. “Cardinals have a great storied history going back 130 years. Blues have a great team story. St. Louis CITY SC, being new, has a great story to tell and how the Taylor family took Downtown West and transformed it.”

“I think being able to tell the stories that is told by other people, our fans, helps,” Kindle explained. “I think we have a great police chief who’s very focused on making sure that story and narrative is told correctly.”

Zimmerman agreed with Kindle. He said positive change is already underway in Chief Robert Tracy’s time at the helm of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, but addressing fundamental challenges will be a long-term matter.

“Those are fundamental foundational kind of ongoing challenges, and there are a number of efforts there. That’s where we have to start,” Zimmerman explained.” “What role do we play in that? Part of it is being at the table, have a voice, and using, at times, our megaphone to help tell the stories that need to be told.”

For our sports teams and community leaders, the most powerful force in telling our story is the passion and fandom of our people.

“I’m a big believer that momentum, optimism around what’s happening in our city, region, things sports are helping say to people, has an ability to unite as a region,” Zimmerman said.

“We all have unique, interesting stories to tell. I think those are interesting who follow sports globally, and we are up there with any other team and puts us on a level playing field,” DeWitt III said.

“It’s putting St. Louis in a bright light and taking advantage of the global awareness of sports in a unique way to tell our story about the wonderful things happening in St. Louis,” Nowak said.