The MLS Expansion Plan Remains A Work In Progress

Sacramento appears to be out, Las Vegas maybe in.

Major League Soccer has executed the worst expansion business plan in sports since the National Hockey League’s owners plan to add Denver and Seattle in time for the 1976-1977 season. Denver did get a franchise, the Kansas City Scouts which was an NHL 1974 expansion team. Seattle interests didn’t have the money for a franchise. Major League Soccer went looking for new markets in 2017 with the hope of adding four markets. In 2014, the MLS gave David Beckham an expansion franchise in Miami. In 2017, Beckham was still looking for a stadium site for his team. MLS owners eventually found money people in Cincinnati, Nashville, Columbus, Ohio, Charlotte, St. Louis and Sacramento and added six markets. But Sacramento became a major problem when Ron Burkle, who would have provided a significant chunk of the expansion fee and stadium construction money, decided he didn’t want to be part of the Sacramento franchise. Major League Soccer has dropped the Sacramento logo from the league’s website indicating that MLS owners are done with Sacramento. Burkle is being sued by various people connected to the Sacramento project. In August, the owners of the United Soccer League’s Sacramento Republic FC who want to make the jump to the MLS hired a California politician Fabian Núñez to help find someone with lots of money to replace Burkle. Núñez is a former California Assembly speaker.

Meanwhile MLS Commissioner Don Garber is intrigued with the possibility of putting an expansion team in Las Vegas. The NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley is interested in bringing a team to the Nevada city and apparently has a name in mind for his nonexistent team, the Las Vegas Heroes. Major League Soccer owners could also be looking at San Diego and Phoenix as possible expansion sites. The MLS expansion plan still needs revisions.

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Inter Miami forward Gonzalo Higuain (9) scores a goal during the second half of an MLS soccer match against Nashville, Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Inter Miami won 2-1. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)