Sacramento, Minnesota lead in MLS expansion race

MLSBids from Sacramento and Minnesota interests have the inner track to landing a coveted MLS expansion team, with Las Vegas trailing for lack of a solid stadium plan.

We’ve been steadily covering MLS expansion possibilities; at one time groups from San Antonio and El Paso were in the mix. But for this round, it looks like Sacramento and Minnesota have emerged as new markets: Sacramento because of the increase groundswell of support for pro soccer this past summer, and Minnesota because of potential solid ownership groups with good facilities plans. The topic, as you might expect, was huge at the MLS championship game this past weekend:

At this point, though, the league’s top brass is teetering between Sacramento and a pair of Midwest bids from Minnesota….

Those working in the league’s front office are split as to which direction the league should go — with multiple informed sources praising Sacramento’s grassroots fan support and branding before immediately pointing to Minnesota’s massive TV market.

It really is a process of elimination: when you combine the need for a good facility (present in Sacramento and Minnesota, lacking in Las Vegas, San Antonio and El Paso) with the $100 million expansion fee, Minnesota and Sacramento are the last two standing. Now, this isn’t to say you won’t see Vegas and San Antonio MLS expansion in the future; with a decision due in coming weeks, they simply don’t have the pieces in place.

Once Minnesota gets a green light for MLS expansion, the league faces another big decision: which bid to accept. There are two bidders: the Minnesota Vikings are working with Relevent Sports on a team for the new NFL stadium (shown above), while Minnesota United FC owner Bill McGuire working on a plan with United Properties, the real-estate development firm owned by the Pohlad family, which also owns the Minnesota Twins. McGuire and crew would build a new ballpark in Minneapolis or Bloomington; the Vikings-connected team would play in the new stadium.

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August Publications