Open Door Policy: Sacramento Happy With Plan For 30 MLS Teams
Sacramento is "overjoyed" at MLS' announcement last week that will likely grant USL club Sacramento Republic FC an expansion slot, as the belief is that "soccer is about to become the next big thing in American sports," according to Bizjak, Kasler & Moleski of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Film producer and Sacramento Republic investor Matt Alvarez said of possibly joining MLS, "We look at this like we are getting in early. ... It has an upward trajectory, and its audience is much younger (than other sports). And we are excited by the way MLS fans are consuming the game on their mobile devices." The $200M expansion fee for joining MLS "speaks volumes about the league's progress." When Sacramento Republic's original investors "began knocking on MLS' door five years ago," the entry fee was about $70M. Less than 25 years removed from its first season, MLS "still badly trails other U.S. professional sports as a business." The league's television deal pays a reported $90M a year. MLS "survives in part on a business model built around centralization and cost containment." Investors "don't own their teams; they own a share of the league." Players are "under contract to MLS, not the teams." Critics have said that this system "starves MLS of marquee players and hurts its standing among the elite international leagues." At the same time, MLS' "growth has been undeniable" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/22).
CAROLINA IN MY MIND: In Charlotte, Peralta & Rodrigue noted MLS' announcement Thursday that it would look to expand to 30 teams opened the door for a "potential bid" from NFL Panthers Owner David Tepper. In March, Tepper said that the Panthers and MLS have "engaged in consistent discussions about expansion to Charlotte." The Panthers have "launched several exploratory projects over the last two months regarding a possible MLS expansion." The team held a meeting last month to "gauge public interest in a team, and sent a survey to season ticket holders about a potential team name." Tepper has also discussed a "renovated" Bank of America Stadium as the "home field of a Charlotte MLS team" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/20).
STUCK IN SECOND-TIER? In Phoenix, Patrick O'Grady wrote with Sacramento and St. Louis "queued up to potentially join" MLS, it could "prove challenging for the group behind" USL club Phoenix Rising FC to land an expansion spot. However, team officials have "met several times" with MLS execs and have "developed plans for a permanent stadium" to replace their temporary facility. Phoenix Rising already "has plans for a 21,000-seat stadium" that could meet MLS requirements (BIZJOURNALS.com, 4/21). In Louisville, Justin Sayers noted after MLS' expansion announcement, USL club Louisville City FC said that it is "focused on" the USL. The back-to-back USL champion has "long maintained" that it would "only jump to join the MLS with the right opportunity" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 4/20).