Oh, what a night!
A CREW Signature Event
Yes, the 7th Annual CREW-St. Louis Signature Event lived up to its name. From the cocktail hour to the “big reveal,” from the lavishly decorated Palladium ballroom to the splendid three-course meal, from the stirring introduction by CREW-St. Louis President Nancy Petersen to the inspiring comments from Carolyn Kindle Betz, our keynote speaker, the evening left its indelible signature on the nearly 200 members and guests in attendance.
“It was a pleasure to get out and enjoy the 2021 CREW-St. Louis Signature Event!” says Kirsten Malloy. “After far too many virtual meetings, I enjoyed the opportunity to network with others ahead of the main event. The weather was beautiful and offset the outdoor Happy Hour perfectly. When the curtain rose, we walked into the ballroom to see the St. Louis CITY SC scarves hanging on every chair. We enjoyed a delicious meal. Hearing more about Carolyn was the icing (and more) on the cake!”
“The evening of the Signature Event could not have been nicer,” adds Jenna Knatt. “It was the perfect evening for an outdoor cocktail hour! The venue was the perfect set up for this event and provided a beautiful setting for seeing friends, photo ops in front of the new CREW-St. Louis backdrop and meeting a lot of new people.”
It was a picture-perfect evening for an hour-long networking reception outside the entry to the Palladium. The crowd enjoyed a chance to catch up with colleagues and make new friends. Dozens of attendees also took a pose at a special “step-and-repeat” photo backdrop, which featured the CREW-St. Louis logo.
After the reception, all entered a waiting area inside when a decorative wall was raised for the “big reveal,” the beautiful ballroom replete with white linens and a surprise gift: the colorful scarves emblazoned with the St. Louis CITY SC crest of City Red, River Blue and Arch Steel. A scarf accented every chair in the ballroom.
“When the panels to the event space were raised as we went into dinner, it was fun to hear the responses as they saw the bright red St. Louis CITY SC scarves on the backs of every chair,” says Sharon Henderson. “What a fun way to celebrate a new chapter for St. Louis!”
Nancy welcomed the crowd as dinner was served. The sit-down meal featured a Nantucket salad, herb chicken breast or rosemary and mushroom risotto with potatoes, and a dessert of apple confit.
While dinner was ending, Nancy kicked off the main event by introducing the keynote speaker. In doing so, she recalled two noteworthy speakers at the recent CREW Network Convention in Las Vegas. Both incredible women had ties to the sports world.
“Linda Alvarado runs a successful construction company,” Nancy noted. “She made history in 1991 by becoming the first Latino – male or female – owner of a Major League Baseball franchise. And her ownership of the Colorado Rockies is significant since it marked the first time that any woman participated in a bid for ownership of an MLB team.”
“The second was Sarah Thomas, the first female NFL referee and official. She worked high school and later collegiate games before the NFL hired her in 2015. She shattered the glass ceiling last year when she was selected to work the Super Bowl, the first female to ever officiate in one of the world’s premier sporting events.
“Two barrier breakers. Two trail Blazers,” Nancy said, as the audience responded with thunderous applause. “Tonight’s speaker joins this team of incredible women breaking barriers and blazing trails in the sports world.”
After an unsuccessful attempt to bring pro soccer to St. Louis, Carolyn Kindle Betz led the charge to bring a team to St. Louis. On Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019, the dream became a reality when Don Garber, the MLS Commissioner, placed a ceremonial scarf upon Carolyn. In the words of Ben Hochman, a writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
, “And while we've written much about what this means to St. Louis, it also can't be said enough about what it means to the history of women in sports.”
History made. Trails blazed. Carolyn now oversees the first female majority-owned MLS franchise.
Her commitment to the city includes a gleaming new stadium rising from the ground in Downtown West, along with its training facility and team headquarters. Carolyn’s contributions led to her selection as the 2021 CREW-St. Louis Woman of Influence honoree. This prestigious award recognizes a female leader who has made a significant impact on the commercial real estate industry through her leadership, accomplishments and service to our region.
Besides serving as CEO of St. Louis CITY SC, Carolyn oversees the Enterprise Holdings Foundation. Since its inception, the foundation has contributed more than $462 million to thousands of nonprofit organizations focused on community improvement, education and environmental stewardship.
The stage was set for Carolyn who did not disappoint.
“If you had asked me years ago if I would be an owner, president and CEO of a soccer team, I would have said there’s no way,” she started her remarks. “But life is full of surprises, and I have come to learn that's what it’s all about – being open to the different possibilities that come our way.”
She worked her way through the family’s thriving business as a management trainee at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Eventually, she became president of its foundation.
“Throughout my professional career, there have been so many powerful women guiding me through it,” Carolyn said. “I’m so happy to see that spirit carry on during the building of our MLS expansion team, as I have so many amazing women standing beside me. I hope that together we can inspire and pave the way for future women in sports and leadership roles.”
In particular, she credited Julie Snow, Founding Principal of Snow Kreilich Architects, for bringing the vision of the stadium and district to life.
In addition, Nonyameko Waddell, Vice President at KWAME Building Group, Inc. and Sarah Narjes, Project Executive at Mortenson, are leading the stadium construction to completion ahead of the team’s historic, inaugural season in 2023. “Both Nonyameko and Sarah have truly been rockstars, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without them!” Carolyn said.
When completed, St. Louis CITY SC will be one of the few U.S.-based teams in all professional sports that will have its stadium, team headquarters and training facility all in one centralized downtown location. “The club’s Downtown West stadium district will not only add to the revitalization of St. Louis, but it will create greenspace and gathering places to help bring people together and to inspire our fans and our city toward a brighter future,” she said.
This includes creating a pathway to connect the city. Called the Brickline Greenway, a one-mile stretch will connect Compton Ave. to 20th Street, from the CITY stadium to Harris-Stowe State University as it runs alongside the Great Rivers Greenway. “This project will be a catalyst for creating a vibrant space for people to gather, explore and connect to the city and each other.”
The Brickline Greenway will feature a permanent art installation conceived by St. Louis artist and native Damon Davis, a tribute to the Mill Creek Valley neighborhood, which was a historic Black neighborhood demolished in the 1950s.
“With our district overlapping the footprint of Mill Creek Valley, our club knew it was important to acknowledge the hard truths of the past,” Carolyn said.
She closed out her comments with an inspiring message.
“Sports and soccer tend to be seen as a male-oriented industry, which is why it’s incredible to be leading this team and have so much female representation across our front office and working on our construction site.
“We all can change that perception and help serve as an inspiration to young women and girls that there is no right or wrong career path for them. If they work hard and follow their dreams, they can grow up and be whatever they want . . . whether it is a construction manager, an architect or even the head of a professional sports team.”
The audience responded to Carolyn’s comments with a standing ovation.
Special thanks for a great evening to our sponsors:
• Lead Sponsor: HOK
• Welcome Gift Sponsor: MAK JV (Mortenson, Alberici, Keeley)
• Hors d’oeuvres Sponsor: Great Southern Bank
• Evening Beverage sponsor: Wipfli, LLP
• Photos/Step & Repeat: Kwame Building Group, Inc
• Centerpieces: Keeley Properties and Growing Green
• Coffee Sponsor: Wies Drywall and Construction Corp
• Dessert Sponsor: Roofing Services & Solutions
• Friend of Signature Event: Capes Sokol
And the event took the hard work of so many members on the Programs Committee: Carol Hanson, Bonnie Basler, Alexa Hemphill, Sharon Henderson, Sue Pruchnicki, Helen Lee, Christie Brinkman and Connie Kroenung. Kudos for a job well done and putting your signature on the evening.
Oh, what a night!