MLS announces plans to expand to 30 teams

Major League Soccer unveiled plans to expand to 30 teams in the coming years, up from the previous target of 28 clubs that the league had established in December 2015.

The decision was made by owners at Board of Governors meetings held in Los Angeles. No official decision was made on future expansion markets, but the Commissioner’s office was authorized to advance discussions with Sacramento and St. Louis ownership groups regarding their bids.

Both Sacramento and St. Louis groups will be asked to make formal presentations to the MLS Expansion Committee to address each bid’s final stadium plan, corporate commitments, the composition of the respective ownership groups, detailed economics on funding, strategic plans for fan development, commitments on player development and details on community programs.

In addition to Sacramento and St. Louis, the league remains in discussion with several other ownership groups in other cities.

“Professional soccer at all levels is thriving in the United States and Canada and we believe there are many markets that could support a successful MLS club,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a league statement. “Expansion during the last 15 years has been enormously successful and a key driver behind the league’s continued rise, and we are pleased that some of the top business and community leaders representing great markets in North America are aggressively pursuing MLS expansion clubs.”

With agreements currently in place with 27 total clubs, the league anticipates selecting the 28th and 29th expansion teams in the coming months with an expansion fee set at $200 million for both clubs. 

A decision regarding the expansion fee and timetable for selection of the 30th team was deferred by the Board of Governors.

There are currently 24 clubs competing in the 2019 regular season in progress with expansion teams Inter Miami CF (2020), Nashville SC (2020) and Austin FC (2021) beginning play in the next two years, bringing the total of MLS clubs to 27.

MLS is currently the largest first division professional soccer league in the world.

MLS Expansion Timeline

Season Club
1998 Chicago Fire, Miami Fusion
2005 Real Salt Lake, Chivas USA
2007 Toronto FC
2008 San Jose Earthquakes
2009 Seattle Sounders FC
2010 Philadelphia Union
2011 Portland Timbers, Vancouver Whitecaps FC
2012 Montreal Impact
2015 Orlando City SC, New York City FC
2017 Atlanta United, Minnesota United FC
2018 Los Angeles Football Club
2019 FC Cincinnati
2020 Inter Miami CF, Nashville SC
2021 Austin FC

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