Updated MLS Expansion Quest Power Rankings

Updated MLS Expansion Quest Power Rankings

Several cities have encountered considerable updates in the last several weeks.

In June, we introduced our MLS Expansion Quest Power Rankings, regarding the 12 cities in the United States vying to become one of the apparent final four expansion teams in the top flight. Some activities have taken place in the meantime, so let’s catch up and see where the candidate cities rank at the moment (Important disclaimer: Where possible, actual public information is used to inform these rankings, but on some level, they do remain a hunch on the part of the author).

1. Sacramento

Sacramento’s case has gotten stronger in the last six weeks, and they were already the safest bet of the lot. In addition to San Diego’s bid switching approaches (more on that below), last week the Sacramento Republic FC group took the audacious step of beginning pre-construction work on their proposed MLS stadium with a public event. Most think that’s tacit acknowledgment the group is getting a jump on construction in order to be ready right away when they are permitted entry in MLS, and while there’s been no confirmation publicly from the league on that, the already strong case for Sacramento, which includes a fully approved stadium plan with control over the land, a successful extant USL team, and enough financial backing to weather the step up to MLS means Sacramento are as good as in and the other 11 cities are essentially competing for the final three spots.

2. Cincinnati

Cincinnati remains near the top of the pack, at least according to external metrics, like fan interest in USL side FC Cincinnati and location. Questions persist about the corporate base of the area and they appear to be a bit behind the ball regarding their stadium deal, although they have the potential advantage of playing Ohio and Kentucky against each other to leverage a favorable deal.

But the biggest factor that’s likely helped Cincy’s cause in the last six weeks in the public domain is their June 28 U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 match against the Chicago Fire. In that game, a packed house at Nippert Stadium provided one of the best atmospheres in recent memory for an Open Cup game, and FC Cincinnati played the Cinderella role with a flourish as they won 3-1 in the penalty shootout to advance to the quarterfinals. That the game was surprisingly broadcast on ESPN helped showcase Cincinnati to a national audience, and if the local interest in the team persists, MLS could get very used to another city that shows well on national television broadcasts.

3. San Diego

San Diego remains in the Top 4, surely a controversial stance given the group behind SD’s bid has ceded the first two expansion slots in the hope their stadium plan will be approved in time to be one of the last two selections. After all, they literally launched a campaign days ago called #WaitForSD.

But truthfully, after Sacramento and possibly Cincinnati, the other candidates are already battling for the remaining slots. If that’s the case, what difference does it make if San Diego does have to slide down the pecking order a bit, so long as they remain in the Top 4 overall?

Of course, the San Diego bid group is trying to get ahead of a bad break with their special election proposal for a stadium project being rejected by City Council in order to stay in consideration for one of the final slots. MLS could opt to look elsewhere, ultimately, and they could lose out. But MLS is clearly interested in an NFL-less San Diego, and they may be willing to wait. Until a few more cities rush up the standings, San Diego hangs on by a few fingers in the Top 4.

4. San Antonio

San Antonio is in the same boat as San Diego, down to San Antonio’s elected officials speaking openly last month about their city likely being a better candidate for the third or fourth slots. At the risk of drawing the ire of San Antonio fans, their footing is rather precarious here — the elected officials could be trying to save face as other cities come into consideration, or they could be realists about the prospects, rightly thinking they are in good shape for a Top 4 selection. San Antonio does have a stadium, and the backing of the San Antonio Spurs ownership group, but the factors that will decide their prospects here are their market potential, corporate base, and geographical interests for MLS. They probably still have an edge here, but truth be told they remain one of several cities vying for the last two slots.

5. Nashville

Nashville holds steady at No. 5 after a positive visit from MLS leadership last month and the city hosting the U.S. Men’s National Team as part of a Gold Cup doubleheader. Nashville’s market viability remains a question without a pro team already playing there (a USL team will begin play next year) but local politicians support a public-private partnership at the Fairgrounds, which MLS Commissioner Don Garber visited. And geographically, the success of the south in MLS expansion, with both Orlando City and Atlanta United hitting the ground running, indicates Nashville, one of the most vibrant cities in the U.S., would be a great spot in the country to expand MLS’ footprint. If the USL team pulls in good numbers and the stadium plan continues to proceed, Nashville could very well elbow out San Diego or San Antonio for one of the final two slots.

6. Raleigh/Durham

Call it recency bias, but North Carolina FC owner Steve Malik’s stadium plan reveal and welcoming to town of MLS Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott helps move the more likely of the two North Carolina bids up our power rankings. The stadium plan would be located in a downtown Raleigh spot, with Malik talking up the urban walkability for a young adult audience, which is of course the target market for MLS.

In spite of the positives, Malik will need public help to get the land for the stadium, and the flipside of the “walkability” aspect is that parking appears to be nonexistent around the stadium, with the rest of the neighborhood completely built up already. And while North Carolina could also benefit from expanding MLS’ southern footprint, their NASL team pulls in good, not great, attendance numbers in Cary. This bid clearly appears to be better than Charlotte’s, but MLS may ultimately decide this is not quite enough to end up in the league.

7. Phoenix

Also certainly in the mix, the group behind the bid, which owns USL team Phoenix Rising FC, appear to have finally figured out how to pull in fans to their stadium over an entire season and have been making a promotional push touting their prospects of being a good MLS market.

What is most interesting, perhaps, of a recent SoccerNation exclusive is the argument by Phoenix’s bid group that they don’t have to build a domed stadium despite sitting in a desert, that the dry air means an open-air stadium being properly built will be safe enough to sit and play in, sounds a little bit like Qatar’s original claim they could build air conditioned open-air stadia for the 2022 World Cup, which has since been pared back with the actual tournament moved to the winter. Perhaps the technology is in fact available and skepticism from people like me is unfounded. Beyond that, Phoenix seems like a good bet, but probably have to see if their market potential, corporate base and location shake out more favorably for the expansion slots. Momentum is on the rise for them, so they could very well end up in the Top 4.

8. Tampa Bay

Bill Edwards’ bid for Florida’s Gulf Coast moves up a spot from last time around, and if Miami’s separate expansion plan falls apart, which is at risk of happening as early as this week, they could leap up the power rankings. Many readers argued Tampa is a Top 4 shoo-in after the first round, but I still believe Miami holds the key, fairly or not, for the Rowdies’ case. If Miami proceeds, will MLS support three Florida teams? We could find out a lot, indirectly, about Tampa’s prospects in short order. Regardless, they still appear to be firmly in the chasing pack for a slot.

9. Detroit

Speculation mounts that Detroit won’t get the political support needed to secure their proposed stadium site, but a new report this week claims the tide may be turning on that front. Detroit slipped a bit in the power rankings, even if they still remain in better shape than the cities below them, because the concerns about the spending power in the area, among consumers and corporations alike, persist.

Additionally, NPSL side Detroit City FC continues to grow in popularity, but there’s been a backlash against the MLS bid, unconnected to Detroit City, from a vocal contingent of the club’s fans. It’s unlikely that Detroit City’s success would sway MLS one way or the other, but Detroit City’s success may or may not portend market success for MLS in Detroit.

10. St. Louis

There’s been nothing publicly helping St. Louis’ prospects, which remain effectively dead, aside from whispers that there are efforts behind the scenes to revive this bid. MLS clearly wants to set up a team in St. Louis and could even be helping those quiet efforts, which would elbow one of the other cities right on out of the running if it comes to anything. Even so, the public-facing indications are that St. Louis still has no chance at MLS expansion right now.

11. Charlotte

Charlotte continues to have the wackiest bid process. MLS came to visit in the last six weeks, but that was first, overshadowed by Raleigh/Durham’s much more coherent plan, and second, prefaced with accusations from local government officials of shadowy “private meetings” which would run aground of laws on such occasions, which were flatly denied by MLS.

Truthfully, it’s unclear if Charlotte’s bid itself, backed by former NASCAR executive Marcus Smith, is the bigger problem or if local government is adding more than its share of bad press to the situation. Probably the truth lies somewhere in the middle, but given the competition in play for four expansion slots, a city presenting a bid this disorganized and behind in progress would have to be extremely coveted by MLS in order to expect anything good to come of it.

12. Indianapolis

No progress has been made in the past six weeks on Indy, which was already the least likely to come to fruition, so this remains effectively dead at the moment.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 40
  • comment-avatar
    John 2 years

    I think this is what the rankings would look like if someone just started paying attention to expansion and saw things at face value. Sacramento and Cincy are clearly 1 and 2. St. Louis, Charlotte, and Indy have a 0% chance. But your rankings in between are off for some key reasons. San Diego having to wait until after MLS plans on making its decision is no small detail. Their plan currently has 40% support in polls and even Landon Donovan said it has less than a 50% chance of happening. Those numbers don’t go up after another year of other groups submitting plans for the property.

    San Diego is not in the top 5. Before Minnesota was chosen, Don Garber spent a long time in the media gushing over how great a market they would be. He also did the same thing with Sacramento and Cincy. He has done no such thing with San Antonio, Tampa Bay, or Raleigh. MLS has no interest in Raleigh and that stadium plan requires an insane amount of political maneuvering to work. It’s one of the most complicated plans out of all the bids. The ownership group also doesn’t have nearly as deep of pockets as others. Raleigh isn’t a glittering destination city and the current team doesn’t draw amazing numbers. Why go here when Nashville, a city Garber has gushed over constantly, is in the South as well. It has political momentum and open land for a stadium, more excitement, higher soccer interetesting, and a billionaire owner with really deep pockets.

    I think the biggest mistake is ranking Phoenix so low. Phoenix fills a geographic hole, and has the third most fan support out of all 12 of the cities. It also has a major media market, highest number of young people and hispanics, and has a ready-to-go stadium plan. MLS would have to ignore all of that so that they could put a third team in a small media market in a state that already has 2 teams, and those teams don’t draw well. That doesn’t make sense for the league.

    1. Sacramento 2. Cincy 3. Phoenix 4. Nashville 5. Detroit (stadium progress and rich owners) 6. San Antonio 7. San Diego (MLS could wait and bid could be voted through) 8. Tampa Bay 9. Raleigh (No MLS interest) 10. Charlotte 11. St. Louis 12. Indy

    • comment-avatar

      Really appreciate your opinion John. I added a couple line breaks just to make it a bit easier to digest!

    • comment-avatar
      Dan 2 years

      A good analysis. I think MLS wants Phoenix (market size, location, demographics) and Nashville (location and demographics). Nashville in particular is a hot market; MLS had to notice the buzz during the Predators run. Sacramento and Cincinnati have so much established fan support that they should get over the line. After that there are question marks with most bids, though I think Garber’s statement today about capping at 28 was more to get the current bidders’ (and their cities) attention.

    • comment-avatar
      Jp 2 years

      Good analysis. I think Sacto and Cincy are in. Nashville looks good and then some wild card from Phx, Detroit and San Antonio.

      Im a raleigh guy (disclaimer) – i do think people underestimate Malik. He’s super close w USA soccer, we have top ranked NWSL team and he’s created a unified soccer presence in the area by merging with the two massive youth progams in Raleigh.

      We are closer than you think, but i fear in the end we’ll fall just outside the top-4.

    • comment-avatar
      Ryan A Springer 2 years

      I think Tampa Bay would be a great option. We are the largest TV Market out of all of them. And we are in the top four when it comes to the metro area markets. We have strong ownership, Community Support, the only privately funded Stadium, and a stadium in a great location

      • comment-avatar
        Michael Bozile 2 years

        1st, Phoenix’s stadium is also self-funded. 2nd, while your TV market is slightly bigger, the rest of Arizona and parts of New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado also get the Phoenix sports broadcasts as part of their local, which I am pretty sure Tampa does not because of the proximity to other major cities with sports teams.

  • comment-avatar
    Doug 2 years

    Okay, the only one you have correct is Sacramento which is all but a guarantee at this point.

    Tampa Bay is #2, not Cincinnati and it’s a joke that you have them at #8.

    TB is the ONLY market who have dotted all their i’s and crossed their t’s.

    1. The waterfront stadium is already built and has been approved for $80 million in private funds for renovations.

    2. The natural rivalry with Orlando which OC’s owner has even publicly stated that he supports and finds it as a strength for TB’s case.

    3. TB is the largest TV market without a team (#11) and everyone knows the real money for the league is to be made with a lucrative, national TV deal. To get those TV deals, you want your teams in the biggest markets.

    4. Miami’s fate has nothing to do with TB. They are completely different markets.

    As for Cincinnati, yes, their crowds are impressive but consider how many of these tix are given away for free or sold at a ridiculous low price. They play on a college campus and the students get in at $5 w/ a Student ID. It’s easy to fill the seats with prices like that.

    San Diego #3? You even acknowledged the setback when the stadium proposal was rejected for a vote. How can you possibly have them at #3?

    With Miami locked in at Team #24, evening out the conferences at 12 each, you have to consider that the 4 new teams will be 2 from the East and 2 from the West to keep balance.

    The two teams announced at the end of this year will be Sacramento (West) and Tampa Bay (East).

    After that, pick the next East and West teams and you’ll have your 4.

    Indy, Charlotte & St.L have no chance (as does SD unless they get this together immediately).

    • comment-avatar
      John 2 years

      Doug, I think you’re waaaaay off with Tampa Bay. Don Garber has never expressed any interest in them. In fact, tonight he talked about front runners and Tampa Bay was not mentioned once. He mentioned Sacramento, Cincy, Nashville, and Detroit. Thirdly you are blatantly wrong to suggest that Miami and Orlando have nothing to do with Tampa. They are different markets, but MLS would not want 3 teams in Florida, so they do affect each other. Detroit and Phoenix have markets of about the same size and have better soccer support. It doesn’t matter if a market is marginally larger if the team is showcased in an 18,000-seat minor league baseball stadium. Tampa Bay is a backup and nothing more.

      The two teams that will be announced are Sacramento and Cincy. The other East team is Nashville. Garber spoke about Nashville in a way he never spoke of Tampa I challenge you to find one quote from Don Garber where he mentioned Tampa as a front runner. He has done those things with Sacramento, Tampa, and Cincy. I’m guessing you are a Tampa fan or from the area, because otherwise there would be no reason why you would think so highly of a team that is 7th in attendance in USL and has a plan to be in a renovated minor league baseball stadium that would an attendance below the current league average. Also, you can’t seriously be trying to rationalize Cincy’s attendance numbers with Tampa Bay’s by citing certain discounts… when is the last time Tampa got on ESPN with 35,000 in attendance? Tampa couldn’t get 15,000 to a game if they gave away tickets for free.

      • comment-avatar
        Doug 2 years

        “when is the last time Tampa got on ESPN with 35,000 in attendance”

        What a stupid comment. The stadium only seats around 7k. Regardless, USL attendance, while meaningful, is not the end-all. Look at Atlanta! Are you telling me the Silverbacks were packing the stadium before United was announced?

        “Tampa couldn’t get 15,000 to a game if they gave away tickets for free.”

        Do you have evidence of anything to back up just a ridiculous claim? Didn’t think so. There’s no reason to make blanket embellishments like that.

        “It doesn’t matter if a market is marginally larger if the team is showcased in an 18,000-seat minor league baseball stadium”

        The stadium has been converted to a soccer stadium for several years now. By the way, how’s Providence Park in Portland working out?

        “I challenge you to find one quote from Don Garber where he mentioned Tampa as a front runner. He has done those things with Sacramento, Tampa, and Cincy.”

        I’m assuming you accidentally added Tampa in that sentence but outside of Sacramento, I haven’t heard Garber mention ANY other cities as “front-runners”. Each city has their hoops to jump through in regards to building a stadium. This is where Tampa and Sacramento stand alone, not to mention the Rowdies’ situation is being accomplished with private money; no public tax reformations to fight through. Cincy may very well be #2 but my biggest issue with your list is having TB at #8 especially when sources have them in the top 4 and SBI has them at Tier 1 (w/ Sacramento):

        http://sbisoccer.com/2017/07/an-updated-tiered-look-at-the-mls-expansion-race

        Here’s Garber on Tampa back in December and the bid was entered in January so you there’s nothing else for him to say in recent weeks.

        • comment-avatar
          John 2 years

          Firstly, Tampa could have played in a bigger stadium if they had a ton of fan interest, so it is absolutely possible to have a marquee game in a big stadium as other teams have done. Tampa’s stadium only seats 7,000 and they still can’t fill it. Secondly, in the video, Don Garber did not mention them as a front-runner. Garber was a guest in a Tampa university and of course, he complimented the stadium. But he mentioned 4 teams that the owners were energized by Nashville, Sacramento, Cincy, and Detroit. You will notice that he did not say Tampa.

          And you are factually incorrect. Don Garber specifically has mentioned Sacramento as a “frontrunner” (using that specific phrase) on multiple occasions. He has not recently mentioned Tampa as a leader or on a short list once, including last night during the All-Star game. The owners actually discussed Cincy in length and how pleased they were. Tampa was not a talking point.

          Thirdly, do you think that MLS cares where the money is coming from? They couldn’t care less if it is private or public. They just want the stadium to get built. DC just spent $300 of public money for a stadium and MLS did not bat an eye. And also, $80 million pales in comparison to the private investments made by Tampa’s competitors.

          Fourthly, the Silverbacks were playing in a suburb and a different ownership group. The lack of attendance was not a big deal because it had to do with the stadium, stadium location, and ownership group. The Rowdies are currently in the same stadium, same location, and with the same ownership group, and still, have relatively low attendance. This would be the same team in the same location that not too many people care about playing at a higher level.

          Fifthly, the sources you name that say Tampa was a top 4 team do not say where they got their information or how reliable it is. Is it also not a direct quote, which makes it easy to take out of context. It also does not say when that comment was made. Maybe 6 months ago Tampa was a top 4 team. Things have changed. Nashville is high on the list. Phoenix brought in Drogba and built a stadium. Tampa has stood still while everyone else passes them by.

          And finally, it absolutely is a baseball stadium. Even in the MLS renderings it still has dugouts haha. It is just used for soccer, but it has the shell and layout of a baseball stadium. The seating is mainly in the corners, which is the worst spot for people to sit. It also has very little room to expand and would be one of the smallest stadiums in the league. Portland had a football stadium, and there is a big difference between switching from baseball. MLS is not looking to go backward. They want new soccer specific stadiums that will bring the league into the next generation. Things like the baseball stadium conversion do not bring the league forward. They set the league back a few years.

        • comment-avatar
          John 2 years

          You’re welcome to believe whatever you want and try to rationalize things using different beliefs you have, but it doesn’t change the reality of the situation. MLS will not be coming to Tampa Bay anytime soon. MLS has far better options in new cities.

          • comment-avatar
            Chris 2 years

            Really, the most damning thing for Tampa is that they’re not selling their 7k stadium out.

    • comment-avatar
      hoojib127 2 years

      Both Minnesota and Kansas City could easily be moved to the East, if need be. Additionally, I’d personally like to see each conference split into 2-3 divisions in the next season or two.

    • comment-avatar
      David 2 years

      FC Cincinnati gives very few tickets away. Less than 1,000 per FCC ticket office. You cannot get tickets for $5. Not sure how people still believe this nonsense.

      • comment-avatar
        Doug 2 years

        http://www.fccincinnati.com/tickets

        General Admin = $10 ($5 for groups of 20) $50 for season tix.

        • comment-avatar
          David 2 years

          So again you cannot get $5 unless your part of a very large group. Your previous comment acted like it was very easy and everyone was getting $5 or free tickets. So again, FCC does not give away many tickets at all and besides using the group portal you cannot get $5 tickets. Thanks for trying though.

  • comment-avatar
    Brad 2 years

    The Raleigh plan comes with tons of parking in the $1B project, in addition to tens of thousands of parking spots in decks and lots outside the project zone. None of the other bids have such a potential to transform a city – the 13 acre site includes 1200 housing units and nearly a million square feet of office space – and it basically establishes a northeast quadrant of downtown in a part of the city that is completely doldrums. I guess if you just looked at that one picture it might look crowded, but it’s pretty empty. The buildings being taken down amount to less than 1,000 employees.

    Very curious why passing interest in Cincinnati, partially because both of their other sports teams are lousy and they’re playing in a fun stadium that isn’t matched by the stadium proposal, seems to vault them so high. Why would MLS want to be third tier when better bids exist in cities with no competition?

    • comment-avatar
      John 2 years

      The Raleigh bid might be really good for the city, but it doesn’t make too much sense for MLS. With so many other cities, it would be hard for them to go choose to promote a team that doesn’t even have 4,400 in average attendance. When North Carolina FC played an MLS team in the open cup the small stadium was mostly empty. When FC Cincy played MLS teams the 35,000-seat stadium was full both times. If MLS were going to choose a relatively small media market, they would put a lot more faith in the one that has 20,000 fans per game than the one with under 4,500.

      Also, you say that the interest in Cincy is passing and that it is only that high because of poor performance of other sports teams. But they have had insane attendance for two years. Raleigh has one pro sports team in the Hurricanes that has awful attendance and little local interest, yet the Raleigh NASL team has never gotten good attendance or even “passing interest” from fans despite little pro sports competition in the last 10 years. Raleigh has had 10 years to build a market with barely any competition, and it still can only average 1/4 of what Cincy gets.

      • comment-avatar
        John 2 years

        Not to mention that Raleigh’s bid requires an insane amount of political maneuvering that would have to be done within 6 months. With much easier stadium roads in Nashville, Sacramento, Phoenix, and even Cincy and Detroit at this point, MLS would not want another complicated stadium ordeal like they had in Miami all to get into a media market that is the 24th largest and is fragmented across different cities.

    • comment-avatar
      Jim 2 years

      Seriously? Detroits bid is apart of a billion $ development with 3 skyscrapers.

  • comment-avatar
    Michael kas 2 years

    San Diego should be 6 or 7 given LAFC and Sacramento are already in makes No sense to have 5 teams in one state

    • comment-avatar
      hoojib127 2 years

      You’re aware MLB has managed to sustain 5 teams in California for nearly 50 years now, right?

  • comment-avatar
    RickeyJackson 2 years

    Sacramento republic fc, is so real ,but again it’s all in hands of the MLS I thought we had it last time MNUFC got it so I sit here waiting to hear, glory glory sacramento

  • comment-avatar
    Adam McKay 2 years

    I’m pretty surprised you have Detroit at #9. I would put them alllllllll the way up to #2 honestly. A ton of reasons.

    1. The Downtown Stadium Issue. The property downtown will happen. The jail has been sitting there for three years and the city simply can’t afford to build it. Gores (owner of the Pistons who are moving downtown) and Gilbert (owner of the Cavs) are the ones building it. Why does this matter? Because they own about 80% of downtown and have invested billions in the city. The city won’t screw with them.

    2. Financial Security. Gores and Gilbert are worth 10 billion combined. This give Detroit TONS of financial flexibility.

    3. The Stadium. It is not just going to be first class, but the whole area around it will be new. They are putting in over a billion dollars of private money into a few blocks with an MLS stadium in the middle. It will be the best stadium in MLS history.

    4. Support. Detroit LOVES it’s soccer. We are getting 7k for each Detroit City FC game (selling out). Detroit City FC has there own stand alone apparel shop. That is wild for a tier four team. And look at attendance major games in the area. Real Madrid vs Man U had 105,000 at The Big House. PSG played AS Roma, with their B-Sides, on a baseball field, on a Wednesday, with the cheapest tickets being $45. It was also raining all day. Still had 35k. International games at Ford Field drew crowds larger then what Seattle brought in before the Sounders. Hell, a WNT scrimmage again Haiti drew 40,000 at Ford Field.

    5. Spending Power? You mentioned that, but I don’t understand. I know Detroit has a big stigma surrounding it but it is a great area with a lot of money in the suburbs. And corporate sponsors? Really? What about GM and Ford, the 6th and 9th highest publicly traded companies in the US? Not to mention Dow, Whirpool, Lear, Kellogg, Penski, Ally, Stryker, Comerica, Quicken, ect.

    Detroit is a clear #2, and is #1 once the jail site is approved.

    • comment-avatar
      John 2 years

      It’s pretty clear that the Detroit bid would be great for the city and great for MLS because it is the type of plan that would usher in MLS 3.0 or higher. It’s also a big ticket media city. I don’t think they could kick Sacramento out at number one or even Cincy at number two, because right now Sacramento and Cincy are the only two cities where MLS is sure to be successful based on support of its lower teams. Detroit has a complicated stadium plan to finish working out and its owners are starting a team from scratch instead of promoting one that already exists. So there is some risk there that isn’t present with other cities. It’s clear that they are top 4 or 5 though, especially since they were only one of four teams mentioned specifically by Garber last night.

      I agree 100% that putting San Antonio and San Diego above Nashville, Detroit, and Phoenix is a head-scratcher. I don’t know why people keep bringing Tampa up either. Tampa is a secondary backup market since they’re probably ranked 6th. I was glad to see this writer pointed out Tampa’s proper place after Miami got the green light.

      • comment-avatar
        Jim 2 years

        Concur! This raking is the strangest one ive come across. I wouldn’t rule out DCFC being the MLS side if Detroit is picked (season ticket holder) but Sac and Cincy should be first. Detroits complicated picture should be ironed out by mid September. Nashville, phonix and San Antonio are the best opportunities.

  • comment-avatar
    Curt 2 years

    This is the first I’ve heard of area corporate base being an issue for Cincinnati. Krogers, P&G, Macys, 5/3 bank are all headquartered there plus add in lots of corporations with major operations like GE, Ford, Amazon and US Bank. The number of Fortune 500 companies is above average for a city it’s size.

  • comment-avatar
    Josh 2 years

    You got this ranking all wrong. If you go on mls.com and actually look at what the commisoner said, San Diego isn’t even close to the top 5. They are close to the end with st.louis. If you actually look at the markets and all the news. The top 4 are Cincinnati, Phoenix, Nashville, and Sacramento, and Tampa bay. San Antonio has showed no news other than a stadium plan to the commisoner and his team. They aren’t on the list. Raleigh and Charlotte are just political and that’s the only way they would get a stadium or team. Mls isn’t interested into that. Indianapolis has problems with the stadium land and the whole franchise. It showed nothing the last few months. Nashville has the fans, stadium and support. Sacramento has the stadium land being leveled out already. So they are on track. Cincinnati showed everything and got everything they needed to on the list. Phoenix showed the stakdum, showed the fanbase, and has the stadium plan and everything in place. All they need is the greenlight to start building a stadium. They resolved the problem with the valleys heat with some modern ideas. Nashville has the stadium and fans. They are on track too. Your list is all wrong and you should go back and get more facts because the top 6 you said is all wrong. Sacramento, Phoenix, Cincinnati, and Nashville.

  • comment-avatar
    Josh 2 years

    For all the San Diego fans, Tampa bay fans, Raleigh, Charlotte fans, and Detroit fans take a second and think. San Diego wants to literally stop this expansion for them but it’s not worth it because the commisoner said there’s tons of markets. He won’t stop for you guys. Tampa bay fans, if you think your getting a team you need to go read and watch the news. The commisoner doesn’t think you guys as front runners. Your just back ups. He didn’t express much attention. By the way you guys have Orlando city and upcoming Miami. Now Raleigh and Charlotte. The commisoner wants nothing to do with you guys since your cities are being political toward the expansion and don’t show much. Detroit has the best chance on this list but you guys aren’t doing so good either. Yes your going to build a modern stadium on currently a jail sight and make the place modern. But it’s not showing much attention

    • comment-avatar
      John 2 years

      I don’t know why you’d say that about Detroit. Don Garber has loved it from the beginning. He mentioned them again the other night. They still have as good of a chance as Phoenix. It’s 50/50 between those two teams for the final spot, assuming that Detroit can navigate the rest of its political situation. Detroit is getting a ton of attention. Every time they do anything slightly positive or negative they get covered in all the papers.

  • comment-avatar
    Jim 2 years

    Regarding Detroit:specifically what are we “not doing good” at? Land deal is all but a go. Strongest ownership group of the 12 bids. Soccer is massive in Michigan.

  • comment-avatar
    Josh W 2 years

    I am a big fan of Nashville!! Nashville loves pro sports and is a fast growing city. Orlando and Atlanta have had great success stories with franchises in the Southeast. I very much believe that if Nashville gets there stadium plan in place and can average 8-10k in attendance for USL team next spring then they will be a lock for #3 expansion team

    • comment-avatar
      Josh W 2 years

      As far at the other teams go, Sacramento is a lock. Cincy I would assume is a lock but still needs to get there stadium plan but they still have plenty of time. Nashville, Phoenix and Detroit round out top 5. San Antonio could be 6th w/ a HUGE drop off after that. MLS used to be very interested in San Antonio but unfortunately for them, other cities have “energized” as Garber recently stated

  • comment-avatar
    Jim 2 years

    Im bullish on Nashville also. Watched the Stanley cup run with much interest. However nashville love of pro sports? Not to long ago the preds almost were being relocated. Red wing games used to be like home games. That looks like its changed thankfully. Josh, you nailed it with who are in the top six

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      John 2 years

      Yeah, fortunately for soccer fans in Nashville it’s not like they are a team that plays on ice trying to earn fans in the South haha. It’s amazing that Nashville was able to draw 45,000 fans to two different games just a week or two apart.

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    Chris C. 2 years

    I think it really should be said that this should be a power ranking list for the first 2 expansion slots and not for slots 3 and 4 because after the decision is made in December, the expansion process is essentially going to restart for (what i assume would be) another year. The process for choosing slots 3 and 4 will probably be the same, but it will also be entirely separate from the process to select the first 2. 2 power ranking are really necessary for the exercise. Also, an additional year is a long time for investors and governments to flesh out projects and secure financing and a lot will change between now and December 2018 and prognosticating is far more difficult. So, for instance, I don’t think anyone would agree that San Diego is #4 for the first 2 slots. But I think most would agree that they’re a favorite for the last 2 slots if they get their vote next year.

    FWIW: My rankings for the first 2 slots (which is about who has most successfully checked the most boxes):
    1. Sacramento – Republic is the most financially successful team in USL/NASL
    2. Cincinnati – the attendance and ratings numbers are too big to ignore
    3. Phoenix – they’ve got land, financing, etc all they need is a stadium plan
    4. Tampa – where is Bill Edwards getting $80M?
    5. Raleigh – Stadium look sweet, but I don’t think MLS is sold on the market.
    6. Nashville – They’ve picked a site, but still have a lot of unchecked boxes to make it by Dec 17.
    7. Detroit – MLS interest is high, but Detroit politics is slow.
    8. San Antonio – Local govt is interested in helping fund the project but have publicly stated that they’re aiming for the last 2 slots.
    9. San Diego – Until they have their vote, they’re not getting a team.
    10. Charlotte – City government finally showing some interest in the project, but they’re way behind everyone else.
    11. Saint Louis – If they find $60M they’re in. Until then they’re done.
    12. Indianapolis – Government has zero interest and the owner isn’t able to fund it himself. No Progress.

    My list for spots 3 & 4: (Which is about assessing the likelihood of project approval and financing, factoring how attractive the city metrics and ownership are, and reading the tea leaves. If Sacramento and Cincy are passed up in the first round they’d be at the top this time around.)
    1. Detroit – MLS wants Gores and Gilbert in the fold, the city metrics and geography make sense. In time, I think they cut through the political red tape pull the project together.
    2. San Diego – I think if their vote is successful the project is too good for MLS to pass up. Ownership group and city metrics are attractive enough for MLS to weather getting bashed for putting a 5th team in CA.
    3. Phoenix – We haven’t seen what the project will be like yet, but it will be hard to top San Diego. Really a toss up for me between Phx and SD at this point. SD has the better ownership, Phx the better location and city metrics.
    4. Nashville – Geography makes sense, I think they’d be OK with the owner Ingram, City is a bit small but as with Cincy its a hot market.
    5. San Antonio – I think MLS likes the city and ownership, but not the location relative to other MLS cities. San Antonio has not released much info about their project.
    6. Raleigh – In the end, there are just better, more exciting opportunities for MLS to pursue.
    7. Tampa – MLS is looking for energized, engaged markets and Tampa simply isn’t. I also think MLS is skeptical about Bill Edwards.
    8. Charlotte – They’re only above St. Louis because the bid isn’t completely dead yet.
    9. St. Louis – Again, they’re in as soon as they find $60M. Until then they’re at the bottom.
    10. A total non-starter. No money, no interest, no progress – no team.

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      John 2 years

      Actually, MLS is not going to wait one year. They are going to choose the first two in November and the next two in the beginning of the next year so they have all the clubs locked up before they have to negotiate a new media contract.

      San Diego will not be able to vote until November of the following year. They know they can’t get in. That is why they are trying to get MLS to delay its decision, which it will not do. So, the rest of us are ranking them appropriately. Even Donovan said it’s likely not going to happen.

      MLS will choose the all 4 around the same time. It is not a different process. It is practically the same process at the same time. Nashville and Detroit will likely be ready by December anyway. That is more than 3 months away and both are finalizing stadium sites, plans, etc, and both city governments are eager to get accepted. Based on what Garber has said, it seems like Nashville will be one of the 4, and it should be a wildcard between Detroit and Phoenix with Detroit having an edge.

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        Chris C. 2 years

        Hi John,

        Not to trifle on details, but I believe that what the Don has said is that they will begin the formal evaluation process in October and it will end in November with a decision coming at their board meeting in December (Dec 5 I think). Also, we simply don;t know when the decision on teams 3 and 4 will come. It would make sense that it would come before media contract negotiations. Apparently they are planning on making an announcement on the timeline for teams 3 and 4 when they pick teams 1 and 2.

        Anyway, the point I was trying to make above is that there will be a decision on the first 2 and then there will be a fairly significant amount of time that passes before a decision is made on the second 2. Groups are going to use that time to improve their bids after receiving feedback. Also, political and financial wills tens to change under time pressure. It seems logical to have a second set of rankings to account for changes that happen during that time and to reflect that there will (or at least should be) a second formal evaluation process.

        Cheers!

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    Jim 2 years

    FYI regarding Detroit. Land transfer agreement must be complete by Nov 28th. Anticipation is it will be done by mid September. My opinion is Nashville and Phoenix need to battle it out for 4th.

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    Dan 2 years

    I also have to think at least one of Phoenix, Detroit and St. Petersburg/Tampa Bay is getting in, if not more. MLS is going to want at least one of those top 13 media markets they are currently missing. Phoenix I think is stronger due to MLS wanting to fill that geographic hole, but Detroit is definitely in the mix. I’ve been to that St. Petersburg stadium as it currently stands; that area, seemed way too staid to me and too far removed from Tampa. That and Miami being close to finally being done (we think), I think that bid is the longest shot of those 3.

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