Major League Soccer has unveiled plans to expand to 30 teams in the coming years, up from the previous target of 28.
The decision was made by owners at Board of Governors meetings held in Los Angeles. No official decision was made on future expansion markets, but the Commissioner’s office was authorised to advance discussions with Sacramento and St. Louis ownership groups regarding their bids.
Both Sacramento and St. Louis groups will be asked to make formal presentations to the MLS Expansion Committee to address each bid’s final stadium plan, corporate commitments, the composition of the respective ownership groups, detailed economics on funding, strategic plans for fan development, commitments on player development and details on community programs.
In addition to Sacramento and St. Louis, the league remains in discussion with several other ownership groups in other cities.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber said:
Professional soccer at all levels is thriving in the United States and Canada and we believe there are many markets that could support a successful MLS club.
Expansion during the last 15 years has been enormously successful and a key driver behind the league’s continued rise, and we are pleased that some of the top business and community leaders representing great markets in North America are aggressively pursuing MLS expansion clubs.
With agreements currently in place with 27 total clubs, the league anticipates selecting the 28th and 29th expansion teams by the July 31 All-Star Game. The expansion fee for the 28th and 29th clubs was also set at $200 million.
A decision regarding the expansion fee and timetable for the 30th team was deferred by the Board of Governors.
There are currently 24 clubs competing in the 2019 regular season in progress with expansion teams Inter Miami CF (2020), Nashville SC (2020) and Austin FC (2021) beginning play in the next two years, bringing the total of MLS clubs to 27.
MLS is currently the largest first division professional soccer league in the world.
Image: The interior of the proposed MLS Stadium in St Louis courtesy of HOK, Snow Kreilich architects.