Complete List of Cities on Radar for MLS Expansion
As two new MLS teams take the field for the 2017 season, the league has its sights set on further expansion to four more markets in the coming years. 12 cities have submitted applications for the next round of expansion as we take a look at possible homes for professional soccer in the United States.
MLS Soccer News: Major League Soccer is reaching new heights as viewership is on the rise in America’s top professional league. Soccer is taking the country by storm with expansion now on the minds of several cities looking to join the action.
MLS hopes to narrow down its list of expansion clubs in the coming year with further announcements planned in the coming months.
“We’ll take a look at that with the MLS ownership expansion committee over the next couple of months,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said. “The ultimate goal is to have a decision on, more than likely, our next two teams by the end of 2017.”
Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, Nashville, Phoenix, Raleigh/Durham, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Diego, St. Louis and Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg.
We take a look at the possible expansion cities and the impact on the game they could have.
Charlotte sports entrepreneur Marcus Smith, president and CEO of Speedway Motorsports, submitted a bid for the Queen City to be gifted an MLS expansion.
The plan would require the demolition of Memorial Stadium and replacing it with a soccer-specific MLS venue. The project is expected to cost around $175 million, with the county approving $43.75 million for the proposal last week.
FC Cincinnati owner, CEO and chairman Carl H. Lindner III delivered its expansion application to league headquarters in New York on Tuesday prior to the deadline. Lindner is also the co-CEO of American Financial Group.
FC Cincinnati’s application included information about a potential new soccer-specific stadium. The USL club currently plays at Nippert Stadium on the University of Cincinnati’s campus. The club has invested $2 million this offseason to widen the playing field to MLS standards in order to bolster its chances of being granted an expansion club.
Cincinnati currently has a population of under 300,000 according the U.S. Census Bureau.
Tom Gores, owner of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons and Chairman and CEO of Platinum Equity, along with Dan Gilbert, owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers and Founder and Chairman of Quicken Loans and Rock Ventures, LLC submitted their application to MLS headquarters on Tuesday as well.
The bid’s stadium plan calls for development of a 23,000-seat facility in the center of Detroit’s sports and entertainment district. The proposal centers around Metro Detroit’s passion for soccer and the growth of the downtown area.
The proposed $1 billion mixed-use stadium complex would be built on the site of the stalled Wayne County jail project in Greektown.
Detroit currently has a population of under 680,000 according the U.S. Census Bureau.
Indy Eleven founder and owner Ersal Ozdemir, also the founder and CEO of Keystone Realty Group, delivered the application to MLS headquarters on Tuesday.
The bid plans for development of a 20,000-seat downtown stadium within walking distance of the shopping, dining and entertainment districts of Indianapolis.
Indy Eleven advanced to the NASL championship match last season and finished second in average attendance. A potential stall in Indianapolis’ bid could be the unsettled stadium proposal. The club currently plays in IUPUI’s Michael Carroll Stadium, and had its proposal for an $82 million stadium development shot down by the state legislature in 2015.
Indianapolis currently has a population of under 850,000 according the U.S. Census Bureau.
Nashville Mayor Megan Barry joined members of the Nashville MLS Organizing Committee in submitting their expansion bid to MLS headquarters in New York.
Barry announced her support for locating the prospective team’s stadium last week at the Nashville Fairgrounds, a move also supported by the ownership group.
Nashville’s bid is being led by John Ingram, chairman of Ingram Industries Inc., and Bill Hagerty, former commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
Nashville currently has a population of over 650,000 according the U.S. Census Bureau.
USL club Phoenix Rising FC submitted its expansion application bid on Tuesday, which features letters of support from more than 45 political and business leaders from the region.
The application included plans to privately fund the building of a new, climate-controlled, soccer-specific stadium on a 45-acre site that is under contract. The soccer complex will also serve as the club’s academy training center as well as a light-rail access for fans throughout the Valley.
The ownership team is headed by Berke Bakay, and includes a group of investors who purchased Arizona United Soccer Club in August 2016: Brett Johnson (CEO, Benevolent Capital), Mark Detmer (managing director, JLL), Tim Riester (CEO of RIESTER) and David Rappaport (partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP).
Phoenix currently has a population of over 1.5 million according the U.S. Census Bureau. Prescott Valley’s includes a population of under 42,000.
A group led by North Carolina FC owner Steve Malik submitted an expansion bid for the Raleigh/Durham area.
“We have that history of supporting the sport and being one of the best places in the country for the sport,” said Malik.
In the statement announcing the official expansion application, North Carolina FC noted that further information about its stadium plans will be released in coming weeks. NCFC recently welcomed NWSL club North Carolina Courage, formerly the WNY Flash, as its latest addition to the organization in recent weeks.
Durham County currently has a population of over 300,000 according the U.S. Census Bureau.
Sac Soccer & Entertainment Holdings chairman and CEO Kevin Nagle officially submitted the city’s expansion bid on Tuesday.
The news came with the announcement of Meg Whitman, president and CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprises, and Dr. Griff Harsh, a professor of neurosurgery and otolaryngology at Stanford University Medical Center, to the prospective ownership group. Several local investors in the Sacramento Kings, as well as Jed York of the San Francisco 49ers are members of the group.
The bid includes a downtown stadium plan for a 20,000-seat MLS stadium that has already cleared all regulatory approvals, according to a statement by the team.
Sacramento Republic of the USL has seen enormous success in the California capital since its founding in 2012.
Sacramento currently has a population of over 490,00 according the U.S. Census Bureau.
Mike Stone, the leader of a prospective MLS ownership group, hand-delivered San Diego’s expansion application bid to MLS Commissioner Don Garber in an event held on Monday on the deck of the USS Midway. The city’s mayor, Kevin Faulconer, and MLS legend Landon Donovan were also in attendance during the event.
The bid’s stadium plan calls for a privately-financed 30,000-seat facility on the Mission Valley site where Qualcomm Stadium sits — formerly the site of the San Diego Chargers.
The local ownership group includes: former Qualcomm president Steve Altman, technology entrepreneurs Massih and Masood Tayeb (co-founders of Bridgewest Group), San Diego Padres managing partner and local investor Peter Seidler and sports media executive Juan Carlos Rodriguez.
San Diego currently has a population of under 1.4 million according the U.S. Census Bureau.
Spurs Sports & Entertainment, owners of USL side San Antonio FC, announced their application for expansion on Tuesday.
Toyota Field opened in 2013 and seats around 8,000. It’s located 12 miles northeast of downtown San Antonio and just off the highway that leads to Austin.
The city of San Antonio and Bexar County put $18 million toward the purchase of Toyota Field in November 2015, while SS&E chipped in $3 million and signed a 20-year lease. The stadium’s original tenant, owner Gordon Hartman and the NASL’s Scorpions, proposed in 2014 a $38-$45 million expansion that included the addition of 10,000 seats, 18 more suites, a roof and more.
San Antonio currently has a population of over 1.4 million according the U.S. Census Bureau.
Prospective ownership group headed by lead owner and chairman Paul Edgerley (part owner of the Boston Celtics), announced their expansion application this week.
Edgerley is joined by CEO of World Wide Technology Jim Kavanaugh, managing director of Tortoise Capital Terry Matlack and former Anheuser-Busch president Dave Peacock.
The group’s proposal includes a new 20,000-seat downtown stadium adjacent to and west of St. Louis Union Station.
The stadium site is owned by the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, a state agency with members appointed by the governor. Investors and city officials expect the commission to sell or lease to the city about 24 acres just west of Union Station.
St. Louis currently has a population of under 316,000 according the U.S. Census Bureau.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies delivered its expansion application to MLS headquarters in New York City on Monday afternoon. The expansion application featured more than 200 letters of support from politicians and local celebrities, including a modern rendition of “A Kick in the Grass.”
The application included renderings of the privately funded renovation and expansion plans to Al Lang Stadium as well as details of the proposed ownership group led by Rowdies Chairman & CEO Bill Edwards.
Tampa Bay Area currently has a population of over 3 million.