December 15, 2016 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
NEW YORK, NY- Major League Soccer today unveiled plans for future growth as Commissioner Don Garber announced the process, timeline and the fee related to the League's expansion to 28 clubs. The announcement was made following today's Board of Governors meeting in midtown Manhattan.
As part of the League's plans to add four more clubs, MLS owners authorized a formal process to evaluate interest from markets and qualified ownership groups interested in obtaining an MLS expansion team. The following was decided:
* Expansion Application Process and Timeline - Interested expansion owners must submit expansion applications by January 31, 2017. The MLS expansion committee and Commissioner Garber will then review expansion applications and conduct in-person meetings with potential expansion owners and officials from the prospective markets. These meetings will take place during the first and second quarters of 2017.
Qualified applicants will submit documentation that focuses on the following three areas:
1. Ownership - Applicants will provide a description of ownership structure and financial information.
2. Stadium - Applicants will provide details on the proposed site, financing plan, required governmental approvals and support from public officials.
3. Financial Projections, Corporate Support and Soccer Support - Applicants will provide a business plan, financial projections and commitment letters for stadium naming rights and jersey-front sponsor. Applicants must also provide an overview of support from the soccer community.
* Expansion Team Decision Timeframe - After reviewing expansion applications and visiting each potential expansion market, Major League Soccer will announce the four expansion teams in groups of two based on the following timeline:
o Two new expansion teams during the second or third quarter of 2017. Teams 25 and 26 will begin play in MLS by the 2020 season.
o Two additional expansion teams will be announced at a later date. The timeline for selecting clubs 27 and 28 will be decided following the filing of applications.
* Expansion Fee - The fee for expansion teams 25 and 26 was set at $150 million. The price for clubs 27 and 28 will be announced in conjunction with the announcement of the timeline for the selection of clubs 27 and 28.
With the addition of Atlanta and Minnesota, MLS will have 22 clubs playing during the 2017 season. In addition, Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) will join the league in 2018. Also, MLS is making progress with plans for an expansion team in Miami, which would bring MLS to 24 clubs. In December of 2015, MLS announced plans to grow to 28 teams.
As of this date, ownership groups from 10 markets have publically expressed interest in securing an MLS expansion team: Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville, Raleigh/Durham, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa/St. Petersburg.
"There is tremendous interest in professional soccer across the United States and Canada," Commissioner Garber said. "Since announcing plans to expand to 28 clubs late last year, many potential ownership groups have contacted us, and numerous public officials have stated their desire to bring an MLS expansion team to their city. We look forward to reviewing expansion applications in the coming months and conducting formal meetings in 2017 with possible team owners."
During Major League Soccer's expansion process, three key aspects are considered top priorities when reviewing candidates:
1. A committed local ownership group that has a passion for the sport, a deep belief in Major League Soccer and the resources to invest in the infrastructure to build the sport in their respective market.
2. A market that has a history of strong fan support for soccer matches and other sporting events, is located in a desirable geographic location and is attractive to corporate sponsors and television partners.
3. A comprehensive stadium plan that ensures the club will have a proper home for their fans and players while also serving as a destination for the sport in the community.
Major League Soccer's expansion committee consists of ownership representatives from five clubs including Jonathan Kraft (New England Revolution), Andrew Hauptman (Chicago Fire), Anthony Precourt (Columbus Crew SC), Phil Rawlins (Orlando City SC) and Jay Sugarman (Philadelphia Union).
MLS Expansion Timeline First Season Team 1998 Chicago Fire and Miami Fusion 2005 Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA 2007 Toronto FC 2008 San Jose Earthquakes 2009 Seattle Sounders FC 2010 Philadelphia Union 2011 Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2012 Montreal Impact 2015 Orlando City SC and New York City FC 2017 Atlanta United FC and Minnesota United FC 2018 Los Angeles Football Club