MLS Expansion News – Six Markets – 2/4

News from six markets competing with FC Cincinnati for an MLS expansion bid: Charlotte, Detroit, Nashville, NC Triangle, Sacramento, and Indianapolis.

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This article from Orange and Blue Press continues a series of articles related to MLS expansion news. These articles fall under the what have you done for me lately theme, and explore the most recent events in each city’s campaign to gain entry into MLS.

Since the first series of articles was released, two new markets threw their hat into the ring – Phoenix and Indianapolis. The expansion landscape across twelve cities is complex, dynamic, and several markets have a reasonable chance for a successful bid. Six of the twelve expansion markets are covered in this article. A separate article will follow in close proximity and cover the remaining six. Cincinnati will be covered last in order to review how news from other markets affects the Cincinnati bid.

If you’re looking for the basics of the current MLS expansion situation, see our MLS Expansion 101 article.


Charlotte

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Charlotte, North Carolina

Summary: Last week Mecklenburg County approved $43M in financing for the stadium renovation. However, the city of Charlotte cancelled the Friday meeting scheduled to review and potentially approve another $43M share from the city. Marcus Smith still submitted the MLS application on 1/31 without the city’s agreement to help fund the stadium. The city can still join the effort at a later date if they so choose.
News & Resources: 

  • 1/20 – Financial details of Charlotte’s stadium proposal are released. A key stadium funding vote is scheduled for 1/26. [Charlotte Business Journal]
  • 1/26 – Mecklenburg County approves plan to renovate Memorial stadium. The Charlotte City Council was scheduled to vote on the proposal on 1/27, but cancelled the meeting. They want more time to review and discuss the details of the proposal. [QC Football Chronicle]
  • 1/30 – Charlotte’s bid will move forward without city funding. The City of Charlotte is taking more time to consider whether to contribute tourism tax dollars to the cause. [Charlotte Post]
  • 1/31 – Charlotte submits its bid for MLS expansion despite lack of funding from the city. [Charlotte Business Journal]
  • 2/2 – Charlotte’s application is heavy on NASCAR, light on soccer according to the Charlotte Observer. The article maintains that the city is unlikely to chip in for the stadium. [Charlotte Observer]

Link with details of Charlotte’s TV Market, ownership group, existing team, and more.


Detroit

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Detroit, Michigan

Summary: Wayne County announces that it will move forward with the county’s stalled jail project unless an acceptable proposal for the property is submitted by February 10. This site has been the target location for the Detroit MLS stadium. The ownership team of Gilbert & Gores plans to submit a proposal to acquire that site before the February deadline. The Detroit bid submitted its application on 1/31.
News & Resources: 

  • 1/28 –  Detroit – The Detroit MLS bid’s target stadium location is no longer an option, unless a deal can be rescued by 2/10. [CBS Detroit]
  • 1/30 –  Gilbert & Gores will a submit proposal to redevelop the jail site before the 2/10 county deadline. [Crain’s]
  • 1/31 – Detroit submits its bid for MLS expansion. This thorough article includes a stadium plan and quotes from Alexi Lalas on the prospect of MLS in his hometown.  [Crain’s]

Link with details of Detroit’s TV Market, ownership group, existing team, and more.


Nashville 

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Nashville, TN

Summary: Nashville’s mayor recently joined the effort to bring MLS to town and affirmed that the Fairgrounds location is the best possible stadium site. Investors are targeting to have details of a public/private funding proposal in place by June. The Nashville group submitted their MLS application on January 31st.
News & Resources: 

  • 1/18 – Nashville MLS Expansion Profile – Brian Straus [SI]
  • 1/26 – Mayor Megan Barry announces support for the bid and involvement in the application process. She emphasizes that the Fairgrounds is the most suitable location for a new stadium. [Fox 17 Nashville]
  • 1/30 – Mayor Barry makes a public appearance to support the MLS bid. She sets a June timeframe to finalize a funding proposal for a stadium at the Fairgrounds location. [Tennessean]
  • 1/31 – Nashville submits its MLS application. The article includes a video submitted with the application. [WSMV 4 Nashville]
  • 2/1 – Lead investor Ingram meets with MLS executives for the first time in person on the application due date. [Tennessean]

Link with details of Nashville’s TV Market, ownership group, existing team, and more.


North Carolina Triangle (Raleigh/Durham/Cary)

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Raleigh, North Carolina

Summary: Charlotte isn’t the only show in North Carolina, and Steve Malik’s aggressive bid boasts 100% private funding. Brian Straus recently released his MLS expansion profile for the Triangle which is gospel on the topic. Malik submitted the Triangle’s MLS application on January 31st.
News & Resources: 

  • 1/27 – MLS expansion profile for Raleigh / Durham is released by Brian Straus. [SI]
  • 1/31 – Triangle ownership group, led by Steve Malik submits their MLS application. The article discusses the stadium plan which features a translucent roof. [News & Observer]

Link with details of the Triangle’s TV Market, ownership group, existing team, and more.


Sacramento

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Sacramento, California

Summary: Meg Whitman, HP CEO and Ebay founder, joins the Sacramento ownership group. Reports surfaced late on January 31st that the city’s existing USL team, Sacramento Republic FC, was left out of the MLS application submitted by Kevin Nagle. The outcry over the last minute omission is created a PR firestorm that looked bad for this city’s bid. MLS deputy commissioner Mark Abbott tried to downplay the severity of the situation and said that Nagle and Republic FC will continue to work toward an agreement. On 2/4, the parties announced an agreement whereby the Republic FC brand name will be used if the MLS bid is successful.
News & Resources: 

  • 1/27 – A brief articles discusses worries that San Diego’s MLS bid could leave Sacramento out of the picture. [ABC10 Sacramento]
  • 1/30 – Sacramento will submit its bid tomorrow and the organization believes they have an advantage based on the advanced state of their stadium plan. [Sacramento Business Journal]
  • 2/1 – Sacramento Republic FC issues a statement regarding the MLS application saying that if it was submitted without the inclusion of Republic FC, it was done “in violation of our agreements and without our authorization.”  [Sacramento Bee]
  • 2/1 – MLS deputy commissioner Mark Abbot downplays the conflict between Nagle and Republic FC. He says the league will allow discussions to continue and the two groups will attempt to resolve undisclosed “issues.” [Sacramento Business Journal]
  • 2/1 – Brian Straus gives his take on Sacramento’s ownership power struggle, including the Sacramento Mayor getting involved to help resolve the conflict. [SI]
  • 2/4 – With the help of Mayor Steinberg, Nagle and Smith reach a deal of “undisclosed” terms allowing the MLS bid to use the Sacramento Republic FC brand. [Sacramento Bee]

Link with details of the Sacramento’s TV Market, ownership group, existing team, and more.


Indianapolis

Note: Complete market details are included for Indianapolis in this article because they recently joined the expansion race.

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Indianapolis, Indiana

TV Market: Nielsen DMA #27
Existing Team: Indy Eleven – NASL
Venue: A proposed stadium with a cost of “over $100M” in downtown Indianapolis adjacent to Lucas Oil Stadium (NFL) funded with a private/public partnership
Money: Investment group led by Ersal Ozdemir (Indy Eleven and Keystone Realty Group)
Summary: Indianapolis joined the party last, announcing their entry on January 30th, one day before the application deadline. Ozdemir submitted the application on time, and they launched a website to promote the stadium in conjunction with the application. Website
Recent News & Resources: 

  • 1/30 – Brian Straus reports Indianapolis’ MLS bid. [SI]
  • 1/31 –Ozdemir submits the Indianapolis MLS application. The article discusses the proposed funding of the stadium and Indy Eleven’s previous challenges with public / private funding for the NASL team’s stadium. [Indy Star]
  • 2/3 – An article from the Business Journal provides more detail on the investment group. It discusses the bid’s urgency due to the rising costs of MLS and the league getting close to its maximum size. [Indianapolis Business Journal]

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for the second set of six markets which will include Cincinnati.

UPDATE: The next article in this series has been release covering the remaining six markets.

Do you know of recent news or key facts about these MLS expansion contenders not mentioned above?  Let us know in the comments section.

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MLS Expansion News – Five Markets

Expansion news from five markets competing with FC Cincinnati for a place in MLS including Charlotte, Detroit, Nashville, Raleigh/Durham, and Sacramento.

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This series of articles from Orange & Blue Press falls under the what have you done for me lately theme, and explores the most recent events in each city’s campaign to gain entry into MLS.

If you’re looking for the basics of the current MLS expansion situation, see our MLS Expansion 101 article.

The expansion landscape across ten cities is complex, dynamic, and several markets have a reasonable chance for a successful bid. Five of the ten expansion markets are covered in this article. A separate article will follow in close proximity and cover the remaining five. Cincinnati will be covered last in order to review how news from other markets affects the Cincinnati bid.

For each market, the TV market size, existing team, venue, and investment group are listed along with a summary of recent developments. This information is followed by links to relevant news articles and resources. It’s important to note that the existing team in a market does not necessarily become the MLS team if a bid is granted, particularly if the team’s ownership is not part of the MLS bid.


Charlotte

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Charlotte, North Carolina

TV Market: Nielsen DMA #22*
Existing Team: Charlotte Independence – USL
Venue: Memorial Stadium, an existing historical stadium in the Elizabeth neighborhood of Charlotte that would be renovated and expanded
Money: Investment group led by Marcus and Bruton Smith (Speedway Motorsports)
Summary: Recent news discusses the impact that a successful MLS bid would have on the Independence. There is also news on attempts to secure partial public funding for the stadium renovation. A key funding vote at the county level is scheduled for 1/26. A city vote will follow shortly thereafter if approved.
Recent News & Resources: 

  • 12/15 – Bruton Smith, the billionaire race track owner of Speedway Motorsports, and his son Marcus confirm they are in talks with MLS about an expansion team. [Charlotte Observer]
  • 1/5  – County commission considers proposal to level Memorial Stadium and renovate with up to $100M with in tax revenue. [WSOC Charlotte]
  • 1/6 – Mecklenberg County will have an open hearing on 1/24 to get input from the public on proposed use of tax money for stadium financing. [Charlotte Post]
  • 1/10 – Charlotte Independence and owner could be out of the picture if MLS franchise is awarded to the Smiths. [Medium]
  • 1/20 – Financial details of Charlotte’s stadium proposal are released. A key stadium funding vote is scheduled for 1/26. [Charlotte Business Journal]

Detroit

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Detroit, Michigan

TV Market: Nielsen DMA #13*
Existing Team: Detroit City FC  – NPSL – Detroit City FC is unlikely to be the MLS expansion team given the ownership group and supporter opposition to MLS expansion.
Venue: Proposed $1 billion mixed-use stadium complex on the site of the stalled Wayne County jail project in Greektown
Money: Investment group led by Dan Gilbert (Cleveland Cavaliers / Quicken Loans) and Tom Gores (Detroit Pistons)
Summary: Detroit’s large TV market and pro sports ownership give this bid clout, but the stadium plan has been a sticking point (common theme). There’s not a lot of recent news from this bid except that their application will be ready in time.
Recent News & Resources: 

  • 12/12 – Article explaining the anti-MLS sentiment of Detroit City FC supporters [SB Nation]
  • 12/24 – Report that there is no deal yet for Gilbert and Gores as they attempt to secure the Wayne County Jail Project site [Crain’s – registration required]
  • 1/18 – The Detroit MLS investment group reports that they are on track to submit their MLS application on time at the end of January. [Detroit Sports Nation]

Nashville 

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Nashville, TN

TV Market: Nielsen DMA #29*
Future Team: Nashville SC – USL, to begin play in 2018
Venue: Stadium plans are in the early stages of development. The most promising idea includes a partnership with Vanderbilt University to build a stadium at the Fairgrounds in Nashville.
Money: Investment group led by John Ingram (Ingram Industries), no official ties to Nashville SC
Summary: This upstart bid has recently announced Ingram as their leader and is working on both public funding and a partnership with Vanderbilt University to build a stadium.
Recent News & Resources: 

  • 12/19 – A bill was introduced to the state of Tennessee legislature that will help pay off future debt on a new soccer stadium. [Tennessean]
  • 12/20 – Local businessman with ties to Vanderbilt University, John Ingram, is announced as leader of Nashville’s MLS bid. [Tennessean]
  • 1/17 – Nashville’s ownership group is exploring a partnership with Vanderbilt University on a stadium, but the site of proposed stadium is still uncertain. [Nashville Business Journal]
  • 1/18 – Nashville MLS Expansion Profile – Brian Straus [SI]

Raleigh/Durham

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Raleigh, North Carolina

TV Market: Nielsen DMA #24*
Existing Team: North Carolina FC previously Carolina Railhawks – NASL
Venue: A proposed 24,000 seat stadium privately financed by the investors
Money: Investment group led by Steve Malik (North Carolina FC and founder of Medfusion)
Summary: Charlotte isn’t the only show in North Carolina, and Steve Malik’s aggressive bid boasts 100% private funding, which few others can claim. His recent purchase of a NWSL franchise shows commitment to the growth of pro soccer in the triangle.
Recent News & Resources: 

  • 12/6 – The Carolina Railhawks re-brand as North Carolina FC in conjunction with their MLS bid, including the sale of various levels of membership that can be bought by fans and companies to show support. [WNCN]
  • 12/16 – Article about Raleigh/Durham bid after December 15 MLS Board of Governors announcement. This article includes comments from Garber about the bid and North Carolina’s controversial HB2 legislation. [News & Observer]
  • 1/9 – Announcement is made that North Carolina FC owner Steve Malik has purchased NWSL team Western New York Flash, which will be rebranded as the North Carolina Courage and begin play in Cary in 2017. [News & Observer]

Sacramento

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Sacramento, California

TV Market: Nielsen DMA #20*
Existing Team: Sacramento Republic FC – USL
Venue: An approved $226M privately funded stadium complex will be built at the Railyards if an expansion slot is granted.
Money: Investment group led by Warren Smith (Sacramento Republic FC) and Kevin Nagle (EnvisionRX Options)
Summary: Sacramento’s bid is likely the most advanced of the ten. They were once considered a lock for the next expansion slot, and likely still are. The emergence of strong bids from across the nation means Sacramento has to play the application game with everyone else.
Recent News & Resources: 

  • 11/10 – Sacramento stadium plan is approved by Sacramento City Council [Sacramento Bee]
  • 12/21 – Sacramento MLS Expansion Profile – Brian Straus [SI]
  • Sacramento’s bid is perhaps the most mature of the ten and there are few recent developments outside of the critical stadium approval.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for the second set of five markets which will include Cincinnati.
UPDATE: Part two of this series has been released, follow the link for expansion updates on Cincinnati, Saint Louis, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa / St. Petersburg.

Do you know of recent news or key facts about these MLS expansion contenders not mentioned above?  Let us know in the comments section.

*NOTE: Nielsen DMAs are referenced in this article for TV market size information. DMAs seem most relevant to television advertising, but which market size ranking to use is debatable. Some argue that these markets could be combined with other nearby markets to create a larger market (i.e.: Cincinnati/Dayton). Because DMA’s combine surrounding areas already and there is no clear evidence that MLS is evaluating any markets as combined, this series of articles will not do so.

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