MLS eyes expansion in several cities

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MLS eyes expansion

St Louis, San Antonio, Sacramento and Minneapolis show interest in new MLS teams
Major League Soccer (MLS) is seeing a substantial increase in cities showing interest in its expansion plan, according to recent media reports. Beginning of the year, MLS Commissioner Don Garber confirmed this when he said that the list of cities interested in an MLS expansion team is getting bigger.

Garber also informed that the newest market to join the mix is the soccer hotbed of St Louis, Missouri, which was last involved in an expansion bid that fell through in 2008-2009.

“St Louis has got a lot of activity going on with a stadium that they’re trying to get done for the [NFL] Rams. There’s a big soccer community out there and we’d love to see a soccer stadium downtown like they’re thinking about a football stadium,” Garber told media between rounds of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft.

“San Antonio has been very active. There’s a lot of stuff going on. There’s a lot of interest in expansion,” he added.

Back in November, representatives from expansion bids in Las Vegas, Sacramento and Minneapolis visited MLS league headquarters in New York. However Las Vegas’ MLS plans were shattered earlier last month (February 12) with Findlay Sports & Entertainment withdrawing its bid from the expansion franchise.

When asked specifically about Minneapolis, where two different groups are in discussions with the league, Garber said, “It’s very positive that we have multiple owners in an important market that want to come into Major League Soccer,” Garber said. “We have got a lot of decisions we need to make. We are bullish on Minneapolis. We think it’s a good market, it’s an important market for us strategically from a geographic perspective.”

“We love the two ownership groups. We’ve been spending time with both of them. We have work to do with both groups. But I’m very bullish on the market,” he said.

On the subject of stadiums, Garber highlighted recent developments for the San Jose Earthquakes – whose new Avaya Stadium opens in 2015 – and DC United, which won approval for a stadium in December from the Washington, DC City Council. When asked about a soccer stadium for the New England Revolution, Garber indicated there was “a lot of energy in Boston which we’re very excited about” and that “we’re hopeful to get something done there.”

The commissioner also gave an update on the quest of 2015 expansion side New York City FC to build a stadium. The club will play its 2015 home games at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

Beckham committed to Miami stadium

In a related development, David Beckham reaffirmed his commitment to securing Miami stadium. Beckham on February 9 underscored his ongoing efforts to identify a stadium site for a potential MLS expansion club in Miami, raising the possibility of a final decision over the next few months.

Speaking to the media at an event announcing an expansion of his long-running role as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, the former LA Galaxy star admitted to some frustration with the delays in the stadium search, but predicted good news in the near future.

“Miami obviously doesn’t have a stadium at the moment, and we’ll continue to work hard on that,” Beckham reportedly told the BBC in London. “We’re making some really good progress, some real positive progress, so at some point in the next couple of months there will be some announcements.

“So it’s hard work, of course, but nothing in life is easy. So we’re focusing on that and then we’ll announce it when ready.”

Beckham’s group have seen two proposed stadium sites fall through in Miami over the past year, but he reiterated his commitment to securing the proper venue for MLS’s return to South Florida.

“I mean, delays are always frustrating, but to get it right, sometimes there are delays,” he said. “And we will get it right and it will happen. It’s taken a little bit longer than we thought. But it will happen.”

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