Expansion could take MLS to 24 teams by the end of the decade, according to comments from commissioner Don Garber.Since the beginning of 2005, MLS has added 10 teams, including New York City FC, which will begin play in 2015. And the league isn't done there.
MLS commissioner Don Garber announced at halftime of the All-Star Game in Kansas City, Kan., that he aims to include four more teams by the end of the decade, in 2020.
"We look forward to adding new partners with the same commitment to the sport and love of the game," Garber said. "As MLS enters a period of accelerated growth, the addition of new teams will allow us to expand our geographic coverage, grow our fan base and help us achieve our vision of being among the best leagues in the world by 2022."
A release said that the league had started discussions with multiple markets. USL Pro side Orlando City SC made a pitch to the MLS board of governors Wednesday. Additionally, rumors link David Beckham with an expansion side in Miami, and the New York Cosmos, long mooted to be interested in a place in America's top flight, will begin play in the NASL this season.
The release said factors taken into consideration will include "committed and engaged ownership; a comprehensive stadium plan; demonstrated fan support for professional soccer in the market; support from sponsors, television partners and other constituents; geographic location; [and] a strategic business plan for the launch and successful operation of the club."
NYCFC reportedly paid $100 million in an expansion fee.
"Soccer in this country is continuing to grow," Roma's Michael Bradley said following his side's 3-1 triumph over the MLS All-Stars. "If we look at the growth of MLS and the continued improvement of our national team, I think we're moving in the right direction. As the league adds more teams and continues to build more stadiums and continues to have atmospheres like you do in Porland, Kansas City and Seattle ... these are all important things and the future looks bright."
Recent expansion sides such as the Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers, Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact have contributed to a significant boost in attendance figures for the league.
“These expansion clubs have brought new ideas that have contributed to our strategy for growing the league and the addition of new markets has expanded our geographic reach while increasing our fan base,” Garber said.
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