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Interest from cities heats up
by Paul Kennedy, January 28th, 2014 3:14PM

TAGS:  mls, nasl, usl


[MLS EXPANSION] By most estimates, 22 of the 24 clubs MLS hopes to have by the end of the decade are locked up with David Beckham's Miami group expected to follow NYCFC and Orlando City into MLS. Atlanta has been tipped as No. 23 to complete the Southeast footprint, while Minnesota is a early favorite for No. 24. But there's lots of interest elsewhere, notably San Antonio, where MLS Commissioner Don Garber was scheduled to meet with San Antonio officials before Wednesday's Mexico-South Korea game.

Scorpions owner Gordon Hartman built an 8,000-seat soccer-specific stadium, Toyota Field, that opened for the club's second NASL season in 2013. Garber was to meet with Hartman and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to gauge interest in San Antonio.

Other cities in the hunt include:

-- The hottest team in the minor-league ranks is Indy Eleven. The NASL club has not yet kicked out a ball, and it has already sold more than 7,000 season tickets -- more than the permanent seating at its Carroll Stadium home. Temporary seating will be added to boost the capacity to 11,000, which Indy should fill, prompting talk of a stadium of its own for an MLS push. The club hopes to build an $87 million multi-purpose stadium with a capacity of 18,500 in downtown Indianapolis.

-- Charlotte, where a group that owns the city’s professional lacrosse team has an option to buy USL PRO's Charlotte Eagles. Jim McPhilliamy, managing partner of the Charlotte Hounds, told the Charlotte Business Journal, that the club hoped to average 8,000 fans in 2015 -- it averaged 807 a game in 2013 -- as part of an effort to seek investors for an MLS push.

-- Sacramento Republic FC, a USL PRO expansion team, already has almost 4,000 season-ticket deposits for its first season. The goal: sell out the 8,000-seat stadium at Cal Expo. The hope is that it will be the first step in becoming an MLS expansion candidate, like the Portland Timbers, who grew from the minor-league ranks into a wildly successful MLS club.

  1. Michael Sparks
    commented on: January 29, 2014 at 7:41 a.m.
    One city that NO ONE is talking about that is making a serious push behind the scenes is Pittsburgh. They recently built a soccer specific stadium in downtown for their NASL team, the Riverhounds, and ownership there has made it no secret that they want to get to the MLS. Their ticket sales were third last year in the league and there is definite interest within the city to move the team to the next level. Wondering why they're never mentioned in the conversation...
  1. Jim Robertson
    commented on: January 29, 2014 at 5:11 p.m.
    Actually the Riverhounds are a USL-Pro team...
  1. Ray Shines
    commented on: January 29, 2014 at 6:37 p.m.
    That would be why no one is talking about Pittsburgh's NASL team. :) (Seriously, though, their stadium seats 3,500 and might be expandable to 5,000. They don't have anywhere near the finances necessary to make the jump, even to D2. It's silly.)
  1. George Hoyt
    commented on: January 29, 2014 at 7:49 p.m.
    another mystery no show on this list is St Louis- plenty of interest and money- no land anywhere for a stadium, really?
  1. Glenn Maddock
    commented on: January 30, 2014 at 10:21 p.m.
    St. Louis has plenty of land, I was just there, and the suburbs are full of great locations and tons of soccer fans. They have no rich owner and no stadium plans, and no successful minor league team. Those are their issues. San Antonio is a natural, as they have the 3 criteria, but its a small metro area, and small TV market. San Diego would be a natural if they had the owner & stadium. Chivas still needs to be moved remember.

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