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Volume 26 No. 111

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Garber said there is ample time for both St. Louis and Sacramento to reach their goal of expansion in '22
Photo: getty images
Garber said there is ample time for both St. Louis and Sacramento to reach their goal of expansion in '22
Photo: getty images
Garber said there is ample time for both St. Louis and Sacramento to reach their goal of expansion in '22
Photo: getty images

MLS has not officially announced a timetable for when its next three expansion teams will be introduced, but "at least three markets seem to be in the front of the pack: St. Louis, Sacramento and Charlotte in that order," with St. Louis the "clear frontrunner," according to Paul Kennedy of SOCCER AMERICA. MLS Commissioner Don Garber ahead of last night's All-Star Game in Orlando said that the league was "in 'advanced talks' with St. Louis and Sacramento and he planned to visit Sacramento and Charlotte in the next month." St. Louis and Sacramento have "been the favorites since the last board of governors meeting in April when it gave Garber and his staff the go-ahead to negotiate agreements with the two groups." Since David Tepper became the NFL Panthers Owner in May '18, Charlotte has "emerged as one of the most aggressive bidders." The current bid would have the MLS team playing in a renovated Bank of America Stadium, but Garber yesterday cautioned that a soccer-specific stadium was "important to the league without saying how it might impact the league's interest in Charlotte" (SOCCERAMERICA.com 7/31). Garber said that both St. Louis and Sacramento "are aiming" for a '22 entry to the league. He said, "We have plenty of time for them to get their projects finalized and put their plans in place to be able to launch their teams" (PROSOCCERUSA.com, 8/1).

WORKING IT OUT: Garber said that he "isn’t concerned" MLS' ongoing talks with Sacramento will fall through, and emphasized that the two sides "continue talks on an almost daily basis." Garber said that Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg is "involved as well." Garber said that Sacramento’s talks "will continue with no timeline for conclusion." The league’s BOG meets again in December, but Garber noted that a decision on allowing entry into the league "could happen before that." Garber said that he "plans to visit Sacramento in the near future, but did not provide a date or an agenda." USL club Republic FC President & COO Ben Gumpert said that there are "no hang-ups" in talks with MLS. Meanwhile, Steinberg "acknowledged the difficulty of the ongoing talks," but said he is "not concerned at all" by the lack of a resolution (SACRAMENTO BEE, 8/1).

GATEWAY TO SOCCER: SI.com's Brian Straus noted Enterprise Holdings Foundation President Carolyn Kindle Betz "painted a cautiously optimistic picture" about her group's chances of winning an expansion bid in St. Louis. Betz said that her family is "committed to raising their city’s international profile." The ownership group, which also includes USL club St. Louis FC CEO Jim Kavanaugh, "plans to build a privately-financed stadium on a downtown site west of Union Station." A stadium opening and MLS launch in '22 "remains the goal" (SI.com, 7/31). Garber noted the ownership group has "teamed up with a number of other people that are from the game," and the bid "should get over the finish line." Garber: "It will be a fully female ownership group; it'll be the first in Major League Soccer. Just got a little bit of work to do" ("MLS All-Star Game," FS1, 7/31). THE ATHLETIC's Tenorio & Stejskal noted U.S. Soccer CEO Dan Flynn "took part in the expansion group’s presentation and is working in an unpaid consulting/advisory role." U.S. Soccer is in the process of "hiring a replacement for Flynn, who announced he would be stepping down as CEO this year." Flynn said that he was "'helping' the group with its bid" (THEATHLETIC.com, 7/31).

FIT FOR A QUEEN? In Charlotte, Katie Peralta noted Garber "wouldn’t say whether Tepper’s lack of an MLS-specific stadium" puts the city's bid at a "competitive disadvantage." For now, Tepper and other Panthers execs say Bank of America Stadium "still is a viable option for an MLS team, and that it could be renovated if Charlotte lands a team" (CHARLOTTEAGENDA.com, 7/31).

The Raiders are "nearing a naming rights agreement" with Allegiant Airlines for the team's new 65,000-seat stadium in Las Vegas, according to ESPN's Paul Gutierrez (TWITTER.com, 7/31). No terms of the potential deal have been released, but PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Charean Williams noted the price for "applying a name to the stadium was expected to cost $25 million per year for 20 years" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 7/31). Las Vegas-based KSNV-NBC's Bryan Salmond noted there have been "rumblings for some time" about Allegiant buying the naming rights. A "big reveal" is set for Monday as there will be a topping out ceremony at the stadium. Salmond said, "Who knows, maybe they'll have the name by then" (KSNV-NBC, 7/31). Officials with the Las Vegas-based airline in May denied that a trademark filing for "Allegiant Stadium" was tied to the Raiders' venue (THE DAILY).

Snyder (l) originally recruited Lafemina (r) from the league office to help retool the Redskins
Photo: getty images
Snyder (l) originally recruited Lafemina (r) from the league office to help retool the Redskins
Photo: getty images
Snyder (l) originally recruited Lafemina (r) from the league office to help retool the Redskins
Photo: getty images

Roughly 40 Redskins business employees "have left the team" since Owner Dan Snyder fired President of Business Operations & COO Brian Lafemina last December, according to Les Carpenter of the WASHINGTON POST. The exodus is "roughly one-quarter of the organization’s non-football workers." The workers "came from all sides of the business operations, including suite sales, sponsorships, marketing, graphics and the website." Former employees said that the "majority of those who departed did so out of frustration over Lafemina’s removal." The former workers said that Lafemina’s arrival in May '18 had "brought hope of not only reversing a trend of sagging attendance and declining fan interest, but of changing a work culture they described as stagnant and dismissive of any opinion beyond that of a tiny handful of top executives." Many of the team's business employees "had been considering leaving the organization before Lafemina was hired, and were so inspired by his leadership style they put off job searches in the hope he could make a difference." The "majority of those who left were not people who were brought in by Lafemina when the team hired him." Instead, they were employees "ranging in employment from 11 months to 12 years" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/1). DC-based WJFK-FM first reported on this story several weeks ago. In addition, SBJ Publisher and Exec Editor Abe Madkour wrote about the implications of Lafemina's exit in January (THE DAILY).