On May 21, Major League Soccer announced its long-awaited expansion into New York. New York City FC, a joint venture between Manchester City F.C. of Barclays Premier League and the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball, would start play at Yankee Stadium in 2015.
After the announcement, league commissioner Don Garber suggested that the league would take a break from expansion, sticking at twenty teams. However, the growing number of cities interested and David Beckham’s contractual right to own an expansion franchise must have swayed the league along another path, as Garber announced during half-time of Wednesday’s Major League Soccer All-Star Game that New York City FC would be just one of five new franchises to join the league before 2020.
Miami, a franchise to be owned by David Beckham and Marcelo Claure, and Orlando City SC of the USL-Pro have been widely regarded as the favorites for two expansion slots. In fact, Orlando City’s owner even suggested Wednesday that he believes that his team will debut alongside NYCFC in 2015. Orlando City reportedly is preparing to present a stadium financing plan to the City of Orlando.
The league is willing to bend its policy of requiring all teams to play in soccer-specific stadiums if the stadium is built with soccer in mind. The Seattle Sounders FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC were granted expansion franchises despite their stadiums being shared with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and the CFL’s BC Lions, respectively. The Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings have each expressed interest in adding MLS tenants to their new stadiums expected to open in the coming years.
St. Louis has long been viewed as a potential market, though no ownership group has ever emerged. The Canadian capital of Ottawa has also been a candidate for several years. Sacramento recently received a USL-Pro expansion side, the Sacramento Republic FC, and also has MLS ambitions. San Antonio is also likely to make a bid, and it will likely be joined by a multitude of suitor cities vying to squeeze into the two spots that are not likely to be occupied by the Floridian franchises.