MLS commissioner Don Garber
announced the targeted cities, timelines and fees for expansion as the league grows from 24 to 28 teams. Here's what the expansion committee will be looking for from
winning bidders. MLS Expansion: Who's
MLS has identified 10 cities as expansion targets based on interest of ownership groups:
Tampa/St. Petersburg DEADLINES.
Interested groups must submit proposals by Jan. 31, 2017. They must detail ownership group, stadium plans and local soccer and corporate interest. There is
nothing that would prevent other groups beyond those in the 10 cities from coming forward by the Jan. 31 deadline, but the time frame is short. TEAMS NO. 25/26.
Two expansion teams will be selected during the second or third quarter of 2017 and will begin play in 2020. The fee for these expansion teams will be $150
million. TEAMS NO. 27/28.
The next two expansion teams will be announced at a later date. The timeline for selecting these teams and
the fees they must pay will be decided following the filing of applications. REQUIREMENTS.
Here's what MLS's expansion committee,
which consists of Jonathan Kraft
(New England), Andrew Hauptman
(Chicago), Anthony Precourt
(Columbus), Phil Rawlins
(Orlando City) and Jay Sugarman
(Philadelphia), will be looking at: 1. A committed local ownership group
with the resources to invest in the soccer infrastructure to build the sport in its market.
"The expansion fee really is the start of a huge investment in MLS from each group," said Garber in a media conference call on Thursday. "As every potential market will be building a stadium, that
leads to an investment that will go well north of $300 million. Officially, these new teams will be making significant investments in training facilities for the first team and the youth academy, and
also building out their administrative staff."
Expansion fees, stadium and start-up costs are nothing. Probably the biggest change in recent years has been the money owners must spend on
player development (academy and USL teams) and training facilities. Some training projects are costing $50 million, almost double what the first MLS soccer-specific stadium cost in Columbus in 1999.
LAFC, which doesn't begin play until 2018, already has a youth academy in operation. 2. A market that has a history of strong fan support
for soccer, is located in a desirable
geographic location and is attractive to corporate sponsors and television partners.
Orlando City came out of nowhere to enter MLS in 2015 thanks in part to its strong support in USL PRO.
That same support has catapulted Sacramento Republic FC to the top of the current expansion list and made FC Cincinnati a contender in a market that a year ago would garnered zero interest from
"Geographic footprint" is important to MLS as it tries to reach major media markets. It means MLS will seriously look at Detroit, the largest television market without an MLS team,
and it won't go with two teams in North Carolina, where Charlotte and Raleigh/Durham are both bidding.
MLS wants to see corporate commitment, and for the first time will require teams have
naming rights for jersey-front sponsors confirmed. Its experience has been that too many details have been left unresolved upon the launch of expansions teams, whose leverage over potential sponsors
3. A comprehensive stadium plan that ensures the club will have a proper home for their fans and players and serves as a destination for the sport in the community.
include the proposed site plan and required government approvals and support for the stadium. Again, unresolved stadium issues have tripped up expansion teams.
Two years into MLS, New
York City FC still doesn't have a soccer stadium -- and none is on the horizon. Almost three years after initial plans were announced, David Beckham's Miami group doesn't have a stadium,
creating all sorts of issues for MLS with its 24th team.