In the last few weeks, there have been several major developments across professional soccer that could carry into the new year. The future of the second and third divisions remains in flux and, while one MLS hopeful tries to get its stadium effort in order, a current squad is hoping to wrap up the final details of its new facility.
To give you a snapshot of the news to monitor in the new year, here are the Three Stories to Watch in Early 2017.
1.) The Futures of the NASL and USL
Once again, the U.S. Soccer Federation is postponing its decision regarding the futures of the sport’s second and third divisions. Earlier this week, the organization confirmed that it will continue discussions about the statuses of the USL and the NASL through the current year.
While a lot of questions remain about both leagues, it is certainly a complex issue for U.S. Soccer to sort out. The USL is vying for second-division status as it continues to grow, and it could attract more clubs from the NASL, where the futures of several organizations remain in question.
Earlier this week, an organization spokesperson told the IndyStar that “’there is no specific reason’ for the delay and that sides ‘are still talking it through.’” Given the complexities of the situation, U.S. Soccer seems to prefer to take its time to come to the best conclusion rather than rush a verdict in short order.
2.) St. Louis Continues its Stadium Push
In recent weeks, there has been considerable momentum for SC STL’s effort to build a stadium for an MLS expansion team in St. Louis. However, not everyone is sold on the proposal, as Missouri governor-elect Eric Greitens recently lashed out against the use of public funds in the project.
Greitens’ remarks came shortly before the Missouri Development Finance Board was to vote on a proposed $40 million in tax credits on the stadium project. SC STL confirmed on Tuesday that the meeting was cancelled, and expressed a willingness to reach out to the governor-elect and discuss the project.
The issue should come to a head early next year. Greitens will be sworn in on January 9, and St. Louis wants to have a stadium funding referendum for voters on April’s ballot.
3.) D.C. United Try to Wrap up New Stadium Plans
Last week, it was confirmed that the D.C. United’s plan for a new stadium in Buzzard Point will not receive formal approval until 2017. To finalize the proposal, the United will need to make its case to the D.C. zoning commission when it considers the issue again on February 16.
The team has already confirmed that the stadium will not open until some point during the 2018 season, but had previously hoped to have the project clear the zoning board before the end of this year and begin construction in early 2017. However, the zoning commission has asked the team to address some concerns relating to the environmental impact of the construction process and various transportation issues.
The United still look primed to make a move to Buzzard Point. The question for right now is when they can finally begin construction.
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