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MLS Expansion: Sacramento are in, Charlotte and Miami Updates

The 29th team is announced plus updates from Charlotte and Miami.

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-Sacramento Republic FC at San Jose Earthquakes Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

MLS Expansion is happening at a rapid pace. Before diving into today’s update it’s probably worth your time to check out the long list of updates from The Blue Testament on MLS Expansion. The most recent updates came on August 1st and August 15th.

Sacramento Get Their Team

After years and years of waiting, today MLS made it official. The Sacramento Republic FC of the USL Championship will be coming to MLS in 2022. They will join as the 29th team and will come along with fellow expansion team St. Louis (#28). That leaves just one spot remaining to be fought for by Phoenix, Las Vegas, Charlotte, Detroit and others. Well, that’s if you believe MLS that expansion stops at 30 (which I don’t).

“Major League Soccer continues to grow throughout North America and we are so proud to welcome Sacramento as our newest team,” Garber said. “For many years, soccer fans in Sacramento have passionately supported Republic FC and shown that the club deserves to be competing at the highest level. Thanks to the determined efforts and commitment of new owners Ron Burkle and Matt Alvarez along with the leadership of Mayor Darren Steinberg, Sacramento will join MLS with a world-class soccer stadium that will transform the sport in California’s capital.”

Ron Burkle, the owner of the NHL’s Pittsburg Penguins, will be the lead investor. He and his partners will build a $300 million, 21,100 seat soccer stadium downtown.

The city of Sacramento has been passed over for expansion numerous times whether it was Cincinnati, Nashville or even the trickery in Austin, but it’s finally going to happen for them.

Charlotte, North Carolina

A potential future MLS Expansion club in Charlotte may have found the location of their new headquarters. The Charlotte Business Journal is reporting that the city government of Charlotte is working with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper, on putting the MLS expansion HQ and training center in the city-owned Eastland Mall location.

A possible deal breaker is that the move would require at least $100 million in taxpayer money to pay for it (reports say up to $200 million). That is something MLS, the owners of the various teams in MLS as well as other major sports owners are for, but it almost never works out well for the city or state chipping in.

The HQ and practice center would “occupy about 20 acres of the city-owned 69-acre Eastland property, according to the source.” A vote on this could happen before a council meeting on December 2nd. MLS is having a board meeting on December 5th.

Interestingly it was reported the Charlotte bid already has 60 business committing $100,000 per season for suites and that Ally Financial is already signed on as the “lead sponsor” for a potential MLS team if a bid were granted.

The Eastland Mall was open from 1975 to 2010. The city bought the land for $13.2 million with a plan to redevelop the area.

Inter Miami CF

While David Beckham’s Miami expansion bid opens play next season (assuming they finish their stadium) they are also adding a USL League One expansion team. There is currently no name or team branding available yet but they’ll join the New England Revolution who are adding a team as well as teams like North Texas SC (FC Dallas) and Orlando City B as clubs with teams in the third division. Many other MLS clubs already feature teams in the USL Championship (the second division) like SKC’s Swope Park Rangers Sporting KC II and the Philadelphia Union’s Bethlehem Steel.

In other Miami news, they aren’t building just one stadium as they have one going up for 2020 in Fort Lauderdale and Miami Freedom Park will open at a later date in Miami. Co-owner Jorge Mas says they are “on time” to start next year in Ft. Lauderdale. We shall see.

St. Louis, Missouri

It’s been over two months since St. Louis’ MLS expansion team was announced and now they want you to give them a name. They have a poll up asking if they should go “traditional” or “modern” with their vote. For traditional think FC Dallas, D.C. United or Sporting Kansas City. For modern think Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders or LA Galaxy. It’ll be funny when their team is named Boaty McBoatFace.