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The MLS Expansion Sweepstakes Heats Up

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The New England Revolution play the Columbus Crew during a Major League Soccer game in 2015, in Foxborough, Mass. Photo: AP /Mary Schwalm

It is difficult to tell who is up and who is down in the Major League Soccer expansion sweepstakes.

Earlier this month, the mayor of Nashville Megan Barry proposed throwing a quarter of a billion dollars into a project that would include a 27,500 seat stadium for a Major League Soccer Nashville expansion team. The MLS plans to expand by two teams before the end of 2017. Mayor Barry is pushing a University of Tennessee study that claims a Nashville Major League Soccer team and the renovation of Fairgrounds Nashville would result in 3,572 jobs and about $139 million in new income, numbers which seem to have be drawn out of a hat.

The MLS wants to expand but has found getting public money for stadiums is very difficult. St. Louis voters said no in an April vote. St. Petersburg voters said yes to a proposal to renovate Al Lang Stadium through a lease deal as long as the owner of the proposed MLS expansion team paid for the revamping of the facility. Cincinnati political leaders have no money for a stadium but Kentucky might. San Diego’s expansion bid appears to be in trouble as San Diego State University has pulled out of a partnership to build a stadium with local soccer backers and political leaders seem to be lukewarm in supporting the MLS expansion group. Charlotte cannot get public money.

Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, Nashville, Phoenix, Raleigh, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa Bay were on the MLS’s expansion list. Major League Soccer granted David Beckham a Miami expansion franchise in 2014 but Beckham’s group has had difficulty finding a suitable spot for a stadium. Beckham thinks he has a stadium site. The MLS is still a money loser, but there is no shortage of potential owners who want a team.

By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.

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