By Evan Weiner |
Major League Soccer has been trying to expand the number of teams in the circuit for more than a year now and it seems the league is stuck with less than ideal options for growth. The premise was to find four cities that had the right stuff to host as few as 17 games a year in a new facility.
About a dozen contenders for four expansion slots were identified in 2017. Only one city had all of the elements needed to land a team. An owner and a local government willing to spend money on a stadium. That city was Nashville which landed a team after the city’s elected leaders vowed to put up about a quarter of a billion dollars to help fund a soccer facility.
It appears that the league has settled on Cincinnati as the second expansion franchise except the bid has stalled. There is a problem that needs to be solved. The backers of a proposed Cincinnati MLS franchise have a stadium site but the backers need to get agreements done with various groups including the city of Cincinnati elected officials and more importantly a community that does not necessarily want a soccer stadium in the area.
The city seems to be on board and is willing to put up some public money, about $34 million for infrastructure around the stadium, which could include anything from roads to sewer lines. Additionally, there will be tax breaks and other monies put into the $212 million stadium project that allegedly is being built with no public money. Cincinnati has been in the stadium business for more than two decades and needed to raise taxes and sell off a public hospital to pay down the debt on a football and a baseball stadium.
The MLS is waiting and may have Detroit and Sacramento ready in the bullpen. Expansion is not easy.
By Evan Weiner for the Politics of Sports Business
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.