MLS Expansion: Twelve enter race for 28

Major League Soccer received applications from ownership groups in 12 markets for the four spots in the league that will grow it to 28 teams. The deadline was Tuesday.

The ownership groups include owners with interests in the NFL, NBA and MLB. Eight have had interests in teams in the NASL and USL.

Among the owners announced for Sacramento was former California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, the CEO of Hewlett Packard. Curiously, the MLS release doesn't not refer to Sacramento Republic FC, which did not mention the city's bid on its Web site or in social media.

MLS previously announced a timeline for expanding from 24 to 28 teams. Meetings and evaluations will take place during the first and second quarters of 2017 and two expansion teams will be announced before the end of 2017 and begin play in 2020. The other two expansion teams will be announced at a later date.

Marcus Smith, President and CEO of Speedway Motorsports, Inc.
Carl H. Lindner III, Co-CEO of American Financial Group, Owner, Chairman & CEO of FC Cincinnati
Dan Gilbert, Owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Founder and Chairman of Quicken Loans, Inc.
Tom Gores, Owner of the Detroit Pistons, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Platinum Equity

Ersal Ozdemir, Founder & CEO, Keystone Realty Group
Mickey Maurer, Chairman of the Board, National Bank of Indianapolis and IBJ Corp
Jeff Laborsky, President & CEO of Heritage
Mark Elwood, CEO of Elwood Staffing
Andy Mohr, Founder & Owner of Mohr Auto Group

John Ingram, Chairman of Ingram Industries, Inc. Board of Directors
Bill Hagerty, Former Commissioner of Economic Development for Tennessee
Berke Bakay, Governor, Phoenix Rising FC, CEO, Kona Grill
Brett Johnson, Co-Chairman Phoenix Rising FC, CEO, Benevolent Capital
Mark Detmer, Board Member, Phoenix Rising FC, Managing Director, JLL
Tim Riester, Board Member, Phoenix Rising FC, CEO, RIESTER
David Rappaport, Board Member, Phoenix Rising FC, Partner, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP
Steve Malik, Chairman and Owner of North Carolina FC
Kevin Nagle, Chairman and CEO, Sac Soccer & Entertainment Holdings, and Minority Owner of Sacramento Kings
Meg Whitman, Investor, Sac Soccer & Entertainment Holdings, and CEO, Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Jed York, Owner and CEO of San Francisco 49ers

St. Louis:
Paul Edgerley, Senior Advisor at Bain Capital, Managing Director at VantEdge Partners, part owner of Boston Celtics
Terry Matlack, Managing Director of Tortoise Capital, Partner at VantEdge Partners
Jim Kavanaugh, CEO of World Wide Technology, Founder of Saint Louis FC
Dave Peacock, Former President of Anheuser-Busch Inc., Chairman of St. Louis Sports Commission
San Antonio:
Spurs Sports & Entertainment

San Diego:
Mike Stone, Founder and Managing Partner of FS Investors
Peter Seidler, Managing Partner of the San Diego Padres
Massih and Masood Tayebi, Co-Founders of the Bridgewest Group
Steve Altman, Former Vice Chairman and President of Qualcomm
Juan Carlos Rodriguez, Media executive and entrepreneur
Tampa/St. Petersburg:
Bill Edwards, Owner of Tampa Bay Rowdies

21 comments about "MLS Expansion: Twelve enter race for 28".
  1. Fire Paul Gardner Now, February 1, 2017 at 11:44 a.m.

    Long term we are looking at a forty team league with two twenty team divisions and pro/rel.

  2. Wooden Ships replied, February 1, 2017 at 1:32 p.m.

    Agreed Fire, need to hurry though so I'll be around. This has been mine and others goooooooal, since the 60's. Not so sure the younger generation doesn't want it to not be like the other, all too often, boring pro sports leagues.

  3. R2 Dad replied, February 1, 2017 at 8:33 p.m.

    A twenty team division, with 18 making the playoffs? Yay. Maybe most people here are too young to remember, but in the good old days there weren't any playoffs in baseball or football. It's only in the modern (money) era where every team gets a participation ribbon where we have wave after wave of boring playoffs that no one watches, that are supposedly so important and "American".

  4. Steven Greenbaum, February 1, 2017 at 2:56 p.m.

    With all due respect Fellas, there is absolutely no way that these potential new owners, or the current owners, will ever agree to be subject to relegation. The skyrocketing expansion fees and increasing TV revenue will ensure that no teams from this top league will ever be moved down. MLS is not developing in the same way that the top leagues in other countries developed so I don't see that happening here.

  5. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, February 1, 2017 at 3:04 p.m.

    I've never been convinced by this argument. Expansion fees are only going to go up (I assume) and the league can only get so big. So will owners really cap the league at say 30 teams when they can get 10 more expansion fees? I don't think a 40 team league is feasible so pro/rel is the most logical next step. I'm not talking any time soon. 15-20 years at least.

  6. Bill Wilson replied, February 1, 2017 at 3:14 p.m.

    If so, it would be great if we would table the pro-rel conversation and resume it in 2027 instead of this endless circular discussion that goes and will go nowhere. This pro-rel stuff has become as tedious as the Pete Rose in the HOF endless diarrhea. If we devoted as much time to discussing why the USMNT doesn't have any decent left backs as we do pro-rel, we might actually shame a youth coach and or team into actually producing one of these some day.

  7. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, February 1, 2017 at 5:01 p.m.

    Well if you aren't interested in discussing it you can just ignore it rather than whining.

  8. Glenn Maddock, February 1, 2017 at 3:28 p.m.

    The Euro snobs and their stupid Pro/Rel argument is a dead end. Not even on the table for MLS. This is an American sports league and will operate that way. American fans love playoffs, and hate being minor league. We are also competing against 4 other Major leagues, which no Euro clubs have to deal with. They are the only game in town.

  9. Wooden Ships replied, February 1, 2017 at 5 p.m.

    Glenn, Euro snobs, stupid pro/rel? You're a classy one. Some of us snobs prefer the drama at the top and bottom of the tables over the mostly boring US style pro leagues. If soccer had it, I believe the other sports might see the stakes of competition differently. But, like I said above, I think it probably is a reach. Bill, you talk about certain subjects, in hope that it remains in the collective conscience, isn't forgotten and maybe becomes true. Sorry if its painful for you.

  10. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, February 1, 2017 at 5:03 p.m.

    I'm an American fan and I hate playoffs. You spend 34 games supporting your team and then average sides like Portland or Seattle get hot/lucky for a couple of weeks and they're "champions".

  11. PJ replied, February 1, 2017 at 6:17 p.m.

    GO TIMBERS! There's nothing more exciting than the playoffs, except perhaps the relegation battle. Both of these very different sub-plots during a season produce the most effort from the players and the most passion from the fans. MLS needs both.

  12. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, February 2, 2017 at 10:46 a.m.

    Believe me - I wish the atmosphere at my team's games was half as good as at Portland but that was a mediocre team that became "champions" of MLS, although they were slightly less mediocre than the 2016 Sounders. I'd have less of a problem with playoffs is 1) less teams made it and 2) there was an actual advantage to finishing higher in the regular season. Right now 12 out of 20 (or 22 this year) is way too many and after the first round there is no advantage for a higher seed until the final.

  13. david kindness, February 1, 2017 at 6:22 p.m.

    Would like to see Cincinnati and San Diego get teams ..What ever happened to Beckhams bid for a team ...

  14. Wooden Ships replied, February 1, 2017 at 8:31 p.m.

    That's a good question as they aren't mentioned at all.

  15. Kate Phillips , February 2, 2017 at 8:34 a.m.

    The only problem with pro/rel in the US/Canada, is that the first big-money team to be relegated will take their ball and hold home. Doesn't matter if they knew about pro/rel when they signed up or not. "WADDAYA MEAN, BECAUSE MY TEAM WENT 6-24-4, WE HAVE TO END UP PLAYING BAYERN MUNICH OF ANAHEIM IN MLS-2?!?!?!?!?!?!? I PAID FOR AN MLS-1 TEAM, DAMMIT!!!!! [SCREW] THIS; WE'RE DONE!!!!!!!" Or words to that effect.

  16. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, February 2, 2017 at 10:47 a.m.

    I doubt it. Where would they go? Just fold the team?

  17. Kate Phillips , February 2, 2017 at 8:44 a.m.

    I also think North Carolina's HB-2 pretty much shut the door on any major league expansion to Charlotte, unless it's repealed, and that will only happen if rumors start swirling about the Bobcats becoming the Nashville Bobcats, the Panthers becoming the Birmingham Panthers, and the Hurricanes either going back to Hartford, or becoming something like the Las Vegas Hurricanes (or High Rollers, Mob Hits, etc.).

  18. K Michael replied, February 2, 2017 at 9:05 a.m.

    I know, right! The temerity of NC to insist that those with a penis use the men’s restroom. I mean, what narrow-minded Neanderthals! It’s not like they insist on keeping Jihadis out of their state or anything – now, that would necessitate a boycott.

  19. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, February 2, 2017 at 10:44 a.m.

    Please, I think keeping politics off the sports comments boards is generally a good idea (unless it's an article about soccer players discussing politics for example) but it's an especially good idea with all the Trump supporters that apparently love soccer. Even the one non-Trump supporter is a crazy conspiracy theorist. Let's keep it to soccer please!

  20. Kate Phillips , February 2, 2017 at 8:46 a.m.

    Or something like that. :-P

  21. aaron dutch, February 4, 2017 at 8:34 p.m.

    This dead horse has been beaten and kicked into dust. There will be 40 teams by 2030 and all will be MLS Level 1. It will be 2 conferences of 4 divisions each and they will do a 16 team playoff format, it will be the new NFL and the quality of play will be the worst in the world for a large multi-billion $$ league with by then $500m expansion fees & all kind of weird rules. The american soccer of 2030 will be so weird & bad by then, it will be watched by fans all over the world who have avg. to good leagues with 10% of our resources and they will just wonder why we did this. And of course the SUM/USSF/MLS hack group of the 1990's and the modern G & G will be the reason.

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