Major League Soccer plans to officially award an expansion franchise to St. Louis, Missouri, next week according to media reports coming out of the midwest US city.
Both MLS and officials with the St. Louis expansion bid declined to comment. But St. Louis has long been seen as a strong favorite to gain a franchise as the league intends to expand from 27 teams to 30. Franchises in Miami, Florida, and Nashville, Tennessee, will begin play next year, while an expansion club in Austin, Texas, starts in 2021 to join the 24 teams already in existence. Sacramento, California, and Charlotte, North Carolina, are also seen as strong candidates to join St. Louis in this latest round of league expansion.
The St. Louis team would likely start play in 2022, a year after the new Austin team. The city’s expansion group is led by Carolyn Kindle Betz, president of Enterprise Holdings Foundation, and World Wide Technology chief executive Jim Kavanaugh. Betz is in line to become the first female majority owner in MLS history.
During MLS’ recent All-Star Game, Commissioner Don Garber refused to disclose anything certain regarding expansion. But he did say then that both St. Louis and Sacramento were in “advanced discussions” with the league on expansion clubs.
Specific details on the St. Louis expansion club, such as a name and colors, have not yet been disclosed.