A total of 12 ownership groups in 12 different cities formally submitted expansion bids on Tuesday as MLS gets set to add four more expansion teams in the coming years for a total of 28 clubs.
Moving forward, the MLS expansion committee and Commissioner Don Garber will 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.
Applicants submitted documentation that focused on the following three areas:
1. Ownership – Description of ownership structure and financial information.
2. Stadium – Details on the proposed site, financing plan, required governmental approvals and support from public officials.
3. Financial Projections, Corporate Support and Soccer Support – Business plan, financial projections and commitment letters for stadium naming rights and jersey-front sponsor. Applicants also provided an overview of support from the soccer community.
After reviewing expansion applications and meeting with each ownership group, Major League Soccer will announce the four expansion teams in groups of two based on the following timeline:
• Two new expansion teams before the end of 2017. Teams 25 and 26 will begin play in MLS by the 2020 season.
• Two additional expansion teams will be announced at a later date. The timeline for selecting clubs 27 and 28 will be decided later this year.
With the addition of Atlanta United and Minnesota United FC, 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.
Below are details of all 12 bids in chronological order of submission announcement:
Submission announced: 5:37 PM ET - Tuesday, Jan. 31
Charlotte sports entrepreneur Marcus Smith, president and CEO of Speedway Motorsports, officially submitted a bid for the Queen City to be considered for an MLS expansion team.
Charlotte bid - stadium rendering (Credit: MANICA Architecture)
Submission announced: 5:10 PM ET - Tuesday, Jan. 31
Mayor Megan Barry joined members of the Nashville MLS Organizing Committee – John Ingram (chairman of Ingram Industries), Bill Hagerty (ex-commissioner of Economic Development for Tennessee) and Will Alexander – in submitting the city's expansion bid at league headquarters in New York City.
Last week Barry announced her support for locating the prospective team’s stadium at the Nashville Fairgrounds, a move also supported by the ownership group.
Submission announced: 5:06 PM ET - Tuesday, Jan. 31
Indy Eleven founder and owner Ersal Ozdemir, also the founder and CEO of Keystone Realty Group, delivered the club’s official application book to MLS earlier on Tuesday.
The club has commitments from prospective owners who live and work in Central Indiana, including: Mickey Maurer (chairman, National Bank of Indianapolis and IBJ Corp.), Jeff Laborsky (president and CEO of Heritage), Mark Elwood (CEO of Elwood Staffing) and Andy Mohr (founder and owner of Mohr Auto Group).
Indy Eleven's bid features a proposal for a 20,000-seat downtown stadium at a location with convenient access for motorists and pedestrians. The new stadium will be within walking distance of the shopping, dining and entertainment districts of downtown Indianapolis.
Indianapolis bid - stadium rendering
Submission announced: 4:58 PM ET - Tuesday, Jan. 31
Tom Gores, owner of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons and Chairman and CEO of Platinum Equity, along with Dan Gilbert, owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers and Founder and Chairman of Quicken Loans and Rock Ventures, LLC submitted Detroit’s expansion application bid to MLS headquarters Tuesday afternoon.
The bid's stadium plan calls for a 23,000-seat facility in the heart of Detroit’s sports and entertainment district.
Detroit bid - stadium rendering
Submission announced: 4:46 PM ET - Tuesday, Jan. 31
USL club Phoenix Rising FC officially submitted its expansion application bid on Tuesday.
The bid features letters of support from more than 45 political and business leaders from the Phoenix area and a plan to privately fund the building of a new, climate-controlled, soccer-specific stadium on a 45-acre site that is under contract. The soccer complex will include the club's academy as well as light-rail access for fans throughout the Valley.
The ownership team is headed by the club's governor, Berke Bakay, and includes a group of investors who purchased Arizona United Soccer Club in August 2016: Brett Johnson (CEO, Benevolent Capital), Mark Detmer (managing director, JLL), Tim Riester (CEO of RIESTER) and David Rappaport (partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP).
Phoenix Rising is coached by long-time MLS manager Frank Yallop.
Phoenix - stadium rendering
Submission announced: 4:43 PM ET - Tuesday, Jan. 31
Prospective ownership group SC STL, headed by lead owner and chairman Paul Edgerley (part owner of the Boston Celtics), announced they have filed an expansion application and supporting documents with the league office. Edgerley is joined on SC STL's executive committee by CEO of World Wide Technology Jim Kavanaugh, managing director of Tortoise Capital Terry Matlack and former Anheuser-Busch president Dave Peacock.
The group is proposing a new 20,000-seat downtown stadium adjacent to and west of St. Louis Union Station.
SC STL / HOK
Submission announced: 4:30 PM ET - Tuesday, Jan. 31
A group led by North Carolina FC owner Steve Malik has confirmed an expansion bid was submitted for the Raleigh/Durham area.
In the statement announcing the official expansion application, North Carolina FC noted that it will reveal more information about its stadium plans in the coming weeks.
North Carolina FC video
Submission announced: 4:00 PM ET - Tuesday, Jan. 31
Spurs Sports & Entertainment, owners of USL side San Antonio FC, announced their formal application for expansion.
Submission announced: 3:30 PM ET - Tuesday, Jan. 31
Sac Soccer & Entertainment Holdings chairman and CEO Kevin Nagle officially submitted their expansion bid on Tuesday, while also announcing the addition of Meg Whitman, president and CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprises, and Dr. Griff Harsh, a professor of neurosurgery and otolaryngology at Stanford University Medical Center, to the prospective ownership group. Several local investors in the Sacramento Kings, as well as Jed York of the San Francisco 49ers also form part of the group.
The club has a "shovel-ready" downtown stadium plan for a 20,000-seat MLS stadium that has already cleared all regulatory approvals, according to a statement by the team.
Sacramento - stadium rendering
Submission announced: 12:15 PM ET - Tuesday, Jan. 31
FC Cincinnati owner, CEO and chairman Carl H. Lindner III delivered the expansion application to league headquarters on Tuesday. Lindner is also the co-CEO of American Financial Group.
Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg
Submission announced: 3:00 PM ET - Monday, Jan. 30
The Tampa Bay Rowdies delivered their expansion application to MLS headquarters in New York City on Monday afternoon. Their interactive expansion application, featuring more than 200 letters of support from politicians and local celebrities among others, included a modern rendition of “A Kick in the Grass.”
Also part of the application were renderings of the privately funded renovation and expansion plans to Al Lang Stadium as well as details of the proposed ownership group led by Rowdies Chairman & CEO Bill Edwards, who headed the delegation that traveled to Manhattan on Monday morning.
Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg bid - stadium rendering
Submission announced: 2:30 PM ET - Monday, Jan. 30
Mike Stone, the leader of a prospective MLS ownership group, hand-delivered San Diego's expansion application bid to MLS Commissioner Don Garber in an event held on Monday afternoon on the deck of the USS Midway in San Diego. The city's mayor, Kevin Faulconer, and MLS legend Landon Donovan also attended the event.
The bid's stadium plan calls for a privately-financed 30,000-seat facility on the Mission Valley site where Qualcomm Stadium sits.
The local ownership group includes: former Qualcomm president Steve Altman, technology entrepreneurs Massih and Masood Tayeb (co-founders of Bridgewest Group), San Diego Padres managing partner and local investor Peter Seidler and sports media executive Juan Carlos Rodriguez.
San Diego bid - stadium rendering