New York — Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber says St. Louis and Sacramento, California, are the leading candidates for the next round of expansion.
Speaking with the Associated Press Sports Editors on Thursday, Garber said, “It’s fair to say they’re front-runners.”
He said other candidates, in priority order, were Detroit; San Diego; San Antonio; Austin, Texas; and Cincinnati.
“What held us back in St. Louis for 20 years is we never had a viable stadium,” Garber said. “Now we’re talking to a group of investors and we’re able to capitalize on the Rams have left. So there is a site where it’s ready. … St. Louis is a very, very high potential market, and one of the things that makes it more strategic for us is its proximity to Kansas City.”
Garber visited California last week, and the Sacramento Republic of the third-tier United Soccer League released renderings of a proposed 25,000-seat stadium. The team also held a rally to show support.
“Sacramento is MLS ready,” Garber said. “They’ve got 9,500 season tickets, good in any pro sports league. … There’s not a lot of competition there, and we seem to do better in those markets with less competition. There’s an ownership group that’s solid.”
The league, which started play in 1996, currently has 20 teams, with Atlanta due to join in 2017 and a second Los Angeles team the following the year.
Minneapolis-St. Paul also has been awarded a team and could open in 2017, and the league hopes David Beckham’s tentative Miami team can start play in 2018.
CURRENT MLS TEAMS
New York City FC
Real Salt Lake
Sporting Kansas City