MLS announces expansion plans, names several potential markets

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by DAVE MARTINEZ

Major League Soccer is infamous for holding their cards close to the vest. However, when it comes to this next round of expansion, they are taking a different tone.

MLS announced their plans for expansion, including the markets that are looking to enter the competition.

“There is tremendous interest in professional soccer across the United States and Canada,” Commissioner Garber said.  “Since announcing plans to expand to 28 clubs late last year, manypotential ownership groups have contacted us, and numerous public officials have stated their desire to bring an MLS expansion team to their city.

“We look forward to reviewing expansion applications in the coming months and conducting formal meetings in 2017 with possible team owners.”

Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville, Raleigh/Durham, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa/St. Petersburg are the current markets competing for a home in MLS. Teams 25 and 26 will be required to pay $150 million to enter the league. Teams 27 and 28 will have their expansion fees decided at a later date.

Any other interested markets will need to make their intents known by January 31st, 2017; the league deadline for applications.

PR MLS, the expansion groups need to meet the following “priorities” in their review:

  1. A committed local ownership group that has a passion for the sport, a deep belief in Major League Soccer and the resources to invest in the infrastructure to build the sport in their respective market.
  2. A market that has a history of strong fan support for soccer matches and other sporting events, is located in a desirable geographic location and is attractive to corporate sponsors and television partners.
  3. A comprehensive stadium plan that ensures the club will have a proper home for their fans and players while also serving as a destination for the sport in the community.

Here is more from the league release:

 

  • Expansion Application Process and Timeline– Interested expansion owners must submit expansion applications by January 31, 2017.  The MLS expansion committee and Commissioner Garber will then review expansion applications and conduct in-person meetings with potential expansion owners and officials from the prospective markets.  These meetings will take place during the first and second quarters of 2017.

Qualified applicants will submit documentation that focuses on the following three areas:

  1. Ownership– Applicants will provide a description of ownership structure and financial information.
  1. Stadium– Applicants will provide details on the proposed site, financing plan, required governmental approvals and support from public officials.
  1. Financial Projections, Corporate Support and Soccer Support– Applicants will provide a business plan, financial projections and commitment letters for stadium naming rights and jersey-front sponsor.  Applicants must also provide an overview of support from the soccer community.
  • Expansion Team Decision Timeframe– After reviewing expansion applications and visiting each potential expansion market, Major League Soccer will announce the four expansion teams in groups of two based on the following timeline:

o   Two new expansion teams during the second or third quarter of 2017.  Teams 25 and 26 will begin play in MLS by the 2020 season.

o   Two additional expansion teams will be announced at a later date.  The timeline for selecting clubs 27 and 28 will be decided following the filing of applications.

  • Expansion Fee– The fee for expansion teams 25 and 26 was set at $150 million.   The price for clubs 27 and 28 will be announced in conjunction with the announcement of the timeline for the selection of clubs 27 and 28.