Major League Soccer has received official expansion applications from 12 ownership groups and markets for the league’s next round of expansion. MLS will add four expansion teams in the coming years, growing to 28 clubs.
Ownership groups from Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, Nashville, Phoenix, Raleigh/Durham, Sacramento, St Louis, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa/St Petersburg have submitted applications, with some cities having multiple groups applying for expansion.
“Major League Soccer began with 10 clubs back in 1996, and we now have 12 markets vying to secure a team in our next round of expansion,” said MLS commissioner Don Garber.
“That’s a strong statement about the league and the growth of the sport in the USA and Canada. We would like to thank all of the groups for submitting their expansion applications, and we have been encouraged by the support from government officials, corporate leaders and fan enthusiasm in each market. We look forward to reviewing the applications and meeting with the MLS Expansion Committee in the coming months.”
Moving forward, the MLS expansion committee and commissioner Garber will 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.
Applicants submitted documentation that focused on the following three areas:
1. Ownership – description of ownership structure and financial information.
2. Stadium – details on the proposed site, financing plan, required governmental approvals and support from public officials.
3. Financial projections, corporate support and soccer support – business plan, financial projections and commitment letters for stadium naming rights and jersey-front sponsor.
Applicants also provided an overview of support from the soccer community.
After reviewing expansion applications and meeting with each ownership group, Major League Soccer will announce the four expansion teams in groups of two based on the following timeline:
• Two new expansion teams before the end of 2017. Teams 25 and 26 will begin play in MLS by the 2020 season.
• Two additional expansion teams will be announced at a later date. The timeline for selecting clubs 27 and 28 will be decided later this year.
With the addition of Atlanta United and Minnesota United FC, MLS will have 22 clubs playing during the 2017 season. In addition, Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) will join the League in 2018. Also, MLS is making progress with plans for an expansion team in Miami, which would bring MLS to 24 clubs. In December of 2015, MLS announced plans to grow to 28 teams.
February 8, 2017