Since the January 31st deadline for MLS expansion applications was announced, fans across the country have anxiously awaited to see if their city would officially apply to be awarded an MLS franchise. With the deadline passed, we now know 12 cities desire the top tier of North American soccer in their market: Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, Nashville, Phoenix, Raleigh, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Diego, St. Louis, Tampa / St. Petersburg.
San Antonio’s application was submitted by Spurs Sports and Entertainment, per a press release from SS&E on Tuesday. Though there was a video released online (see above) that got some fans excited, the statement from the notoriously quiet organization was made up of only three sentences.
“Spurs Sports & Entertainment has submitted its application for Major League Soccer’s expansion process. We want to thank Bexar County, the City of San Antonio, our corporate partners and all of our supporters for their collaboration. We are a unified community and remain convinced an MLS franchise would be a huge asset to San Antonio and great addition to the league.”
For over a year, Tim Holt and everyone else involved with San Antonio Futbol Club have stated their intention of bringing MLS to San Antonio. While the details of the application aren’t public, the cooperation of the City of SA and Bexar County suggest that the original plan of expanding the government-owned Toyota Field is still the goal for everyone involved.
There was no news out of San Antonio today, and that is one of its greatest assets as a market. Almost every box is checked in the list of things needed to bring an MLS team to a market. The only hurdle left in SAFC’s way is when voters decide to approve or deny the funding for Toyota Field expansion, but with the overwhelming support San Antonians give their Spurs basketball team it is hard to imagine a scenario where voters turn down the soccer side of the organization.
It’s a waiting game now for SA as MLS decides which four markets will get expansion clubs. The first two cities will be announced before the end of 2017 and begin play by 2020 while the last two cities will be announced and begin play at a later date.
There are several notable storylines outside of the lonestar state that are being closely followed including two markets that may have shot themselves in the foot on the very day they announced their bids for expansion.
The most shocking news comes from Northern California as Sacramento’s MLS expansion bid appears to not involve the existing club. While once thought a “lock for expansion” by some, Sacramento Republic FC does not appear to be involved with the city’s submitted bid. Our friends at Indomitable City Soccer are following the story closely and have more details here. While this is still a developing story, a separation of potential-ownership and existing USL club would all but doom Sacramento’s chances of bringing a club to the area. It would be a horrible end to what would otherwise be a story of building a grassroots professional team, but it strengthens San Antonio’s chance of landing a team.
The second miscue comes from the Charlotte bid where it is being reported that the City government does not agree with the proposal, though they are open to bringing MLS to North Carolina.
— Erik Spanberg (@CBJspanberg) February 1, 2017
This brings Charlotte into the same dilemma frontrunner-apparent St. Louis faces as both cities struggle to find a compromise that government officials will approve. St. Louis is the consensus frontrunner at the moment despite the political woes faced by the league. The Gateway to the West is a hotbed for American soccer talent and a location both coaches and league officials have stated as a desirable city for a club.