SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The deadline for cities to formally apply to become one of the next four MLS expansion teams is nearing. Multi-million dollar investors and city councils across the country are scrambling to discuss and decide on big-money projects.
The Sacramento Republic FC is positioned well for Major League Soccer expansion conversations.
“We’ve invested a lot of dollars,” said Kevin Nagle, Republic FC Owner during an interview last year, “part of that is our belief that we’ll be an MLS team.”
The Republic has sold out all but two of its games. The fan support is there. The team signed a corporate kit sponsorship and got the OK for new stadium plans if the MLS decides to come to town.
“Great brand, strong ownership group. They’ve already solidified their site. They’ve already solidified their ownership group. So they’re ahead of the rest of the pack,” said Don Garber, the MLS Commissioner during his visit to Sacramento in April.
Other cities across the country are making a strong case to join the MLS as well.
“We’re trying to bring one of the world’s most popular sports to one of the world’s greatest cities,” said Nick Stone, one of the investors leading the push to bring an MLS team to San Diego.
On Monday, Stone and others presented their proposal to build a $200 million stadium at the former San Diego Chargers home, QUALCOMM stadium.
“We’re not asking for a penny of taxpayer money,” said Stone.
Investors in Charlotte, North Carolina also presented a plan to revitalize a historic stadium for $175 million. But they’re asking for public funds and not everyone is on board.
“If they want to go ahead with it, they can fund it as far as I’m concerned, said Charlotte councilwoman Patsy Kinsey, suggesting that the county should foot the bill for a soccer stadium.
Other cities in the mix include Detroit, which is backed by billionaire owners of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons.
St. Louis is also back in the conversation, but investors are struggling to get approval for a $200 million stadium after a city vote was delayed.
“The delay allows some of the members who still have questions to get those answered by seeing some of the financials behind the deal,” said the President of the Board of Aldermen, Lewis Reed.
The MLS plans to expand in Los Angeles and Miami by the 2018 season. Garber said he’d like to identify the 25th and 26th team by fall 2017 and they would begin play in 2020. The other two expansion teams, 27 and 28, will be named at a later date.
Other cities vying to become an MLS franchise include Nashville, Raleigh, Cincinnati, and San Antonio.
The application deadline is Jan. 31.