MLS has cut the field for the two expansion teams that are slated to be announced in mid-December from 12 groups to four: Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville and Sacramento.
Since August, all
four cities have been the first ones cited by MLS commissioner Don Garber
when he has discussed expansion.
Garber and MLS's expansion committee will hear presentations from owners
and officials representing the four markets in New York on Dec. 6. A decision on expansion should be made at a meeting of MLS's board of governors on Dec. 14 in New York. The two teams are slated to
begin play in 2020. Essential MLS expansion reading: April 15, 2016
: MLS expansion, immediate and long term, taking shape Dec. 16,
: Expansion Timeline: Who's who of the MLS expansion race March 15,
: Who stands where in stadium race April 21, 2017
: How does race stand post-St. Louis? May 5, 2017
: Bidders take stakes in local clubs July 31, 2017
: Our summer attendance meter
MLS plans to award two other expansion teams
at a later date. No timetable has been set for when those cities will be selected or when they will begin play.
Complicating the expansion picture is the uncertain situation in Miami
, where MLS has yet to give the green light almost four
years after David Beckham
was introduced as the Miami investor. The delays in Miami will leave MLS with only 23 teams in 2018.
Other cities in the original group of 12 expansion
bidders are Charlotte, Indianapolis, Phoenix, Raleigh, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa/St. Petersburg. Cincinnati Investor group:
Carl H. Lindner III – co-CEO of American Financial Group and owner, chairman and CEO of FC Cincinnati; Scott Farmer - CEO of
Cintas Corporation. Pro team:
FC Cincinnati (four seasons in USL, 2017 average attendance: 21,199). Stadium plan
21,000-seat soccer stadium to
be built in Oakley neighborhood.
-- Cost: stadium -- $200 million; infrastructure -- $75 million.
-- Funding: Public-private
Detroit Investor group:
Dan Gilbert – owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers and founder and chairman of Quicken Loans, Inc.; Tom Gores – owner of the
Detroit Pistons and founder, chairman and CEO of Platinum Equity. Pro team:
none. Stadium plan:
Ford Field (NFL Lions' home stadium).
Investor group: John Ingram – chairman of Ingram Industries Inc. and CEO of Nashville Soccer Holdings; Wilf Family
– owners of the Minnesota Vikings; Turner Family – managing partners of MarketStreet Enterprises.
Pro team: Nashville SC (to begin play in USL in 2018).
-- 27,500-seat soccer stadium to be built at Fairgrounds Nashville.
-- Cost: stadium -- $225 million; infrastructure -- $50 million.
-- Funding: Public-private
Investor group: Kevin Nagle -- Managing Partner of Sac Soccer & Entertainment Holdings and minority owner of the Sacramento Kings. Jed York – CEO
of the San Francisco 49ers. Mark Friedman – President of Fulcrum Property Group and minority owner of the Sacramento Kings, and other limited partners.
Pro team: Sacramento
Republic FC (four seasons in USL, 2017 average attendance: 11,569).
-- 20,000-seat soccer stadium to be built at the Railyards.
-- Cost: stadium -- $245
million; infrastructure: $46 million.
-- Funding: Public-private.