MLS is not expected to choose an expansion bid for its 28th team during meetings this week, likely taking more time to award the club.
With the league set grow to 27 teams with the future additions of Miami and Nashville next year, followed by Austin in 2021, there has been considerable anticipation to see which contender will land MLS’s 28th spot. Commissioner Don Garber indicated last month that St. Louis and Sacramento are the two front-runners for the 28th team, but did not give an exact time frame for when a decision could be made.
MLS owners are meeting in Los Angeles this week and, while it was never guaranteed that their discussions would yield a decision of expansion, leaders of the Sacramento and St. Louis bids have were working ahead of the meetings to shore up their pitches. However, it appears that no MLS expansion decision will be made this week, with the exact timing for when a selection could be made still unknown. More from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Major League Soccer officials and insiders said it is unlikely that team owners will pick the league’s 28th team at their spring board meeting this week.
Owners, flying in from across North America, are scheduled for a 60- to 90-minute session at their meeting on Thursday to discuss league expansion and the hot race for the last team spot this year.
Neither of the two front-runners — ownership groups from St. Louis and Sacramento — are scheduled to present, a league official said on Tuesday.
And while MLS owner committees will meet on Wednesday, as expected, the six-member expansion committee is no longer scheduled to convene. It met last week after a US Soccer Foundation event in Los Angeles, said league executive vice president Dan Courtemanche, a move that caught officials and fans alike unaware. Moreover, the expansion committee discussed bids in several cities, not just St. Louis and Sacramento, Courtemanche said. St. Louis did not present at that meeting. It’s unclear whether Sacramento did.
It remains to be seen how the expansion race will unfold from here. Sacramento has been building solid momentum over the last few months under new lead investor Ron Burkle, with an incentive package for a privately financed stadium recently approved by the city council. St. Louis, meanwhile, has raised its profile considerably through a bid led by members of Enterprise Holding’s Taylor family and World Wide Technology CEO Jim Kavanaugh. The group’s pitch for a new downtown stadium near Union Station is intriguing, but the bid still has a few crucial tasks to complete–including building corporate support, and addressing funding for the stadium.
Ultimately, MLS can set the pace with any decision on when expansion is made. It appears that MLS needs more time before finalizing plans for a 28th team, meaning that bid backers will have to continue working to earn the league’s approval.
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