Representatives from expansion bidders -- including mayors from three of the four cities -- made presentations to MLS on Wednesday at the league's headquarters on Fifth Avenue in New York.
The current mayor -- Darrell Steinberg
-- and former mayor -- former NBA star Kevin Johnson
-- were part of the Sacramento group that was cheered by Republic FC fans outside MLS's
offices and brought boxes containing materials on the city's Railyards soccer stadium plus bottles of Northern California wine.
Cincinnati mayor John Cranley
and Detroit mayor Mike Duggan
(whose brother Dan
owns the PDL Michigan Bucks)
took part in the meetings. Only Nashville mayor Megan Barry,
the key figure who took Nashville from the back of the pack to the favorite's position in less than a year, was not present.
Owners from the world of American pro sports came in support of their efforts: Quicken Loans founder and Cleveland Cavaliers
owner Dan Gilbert
for Detroit and real estate mogul Mark Wilf
of the Minnesota Vikings, part of the Nashville ownership group.
The representatives from Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville and Sacramento each got two hours to make their pitch to MLS commissioner
and the six members of the league’s expansion committee chaired by the New England Revolution's Jonathan Kraft
The committee is considering four criteria
in evaluating the bids of the four cities:
-- Ownership (wealth and connections);
-- Stadium (preferably urban soccer stadium);
-- Market (corporate support and media size);
-- Soccer (history of fan support).
The four bidders will get back to the expansion committee on issues raised during the talks, and the committee will report to
MLS's board of governors, which will meet next Thursday to select the two cities slated to begin play in 2020. The announcement of the winners will come some time after that. MLS expansion committee: Jonathan Kraft
(chairman), New England Revolution Bill McGuire
, Minnesota United Joe
, Seattle Sounders Andrew Hauptman
, Chicago Fire Jay Sugarman
, Philadelphia Union Cliff Illig
, Sporting KC
The one bit of news came when
Sacramento, which has been in the hunt for an MLS team almost since its successful launch in the USL in 2014, told MLS that Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman
and her husband, Griffith
, had rejoined the Republic FC group.
Whitman's name was included on the initial investor list when the 12 expansion candidates were announced in January but she was not on the
investor list when the four expansion finalists were revealed in November.