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December 15, 2016
MLS to grow to 28 teams; fee $150M for next 2 clubs

By Charles Cuttone
Executive Editor

Major League Soccer seemingly has an insatiable appetite for growth. Following a board of governors meeting on Thursday, the league announced a timetable to grow to 28 teams, after announcing a year ago that was where the league was heading.

Interested applicants for teams 25 and 26 will have until the end of January 2017 to submit an application to the league. After reviewing expansion applications and visiting each potential expansion market, Major League Soccer will announce the four expansion teams in groups of two, with teams 25 and 26 selected by during the second or third quarter of 2017. Those teams will being play in MLS by the 2020 season, and will pay a $150 million expansion fee.

Two additional expansion teams will be announced at a later date. The timeline for selecting clubs 27 and 28 will be decided following the filing of applications. The fee for those clubs will also be set at a later date.

MLS has already added six teams in the last six years, and will add two more next year when Atlanta United FC and Minnesota United FC begin play. Los Angeles FC will begin play the following year, and David Beckham long stalled Miami project appears to be in limbo.

Potential ownership groups from 10 markets have publically expressed interest in securing an MLS expansion team: Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville, Raleigh/Durham, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa/St. Petersburg.

The league says it will consider three key aspects in evaluating expansion applicants:

"A committed local ownership group that has a passion for the sport, a deep belief in Major League Soccer and the resources to invest in the infrastructure to build the sport in their respective market."

" A market that has a history of strong fan support for soccer matches and other sporting events, is located in a desirable geographic location and is attractive to corporate sponsors and television partners."

" A comprehensive stadium plan that ensures the club will have a proper home for their fans and players while also serving as a destination for the sport in the community."

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