When we spoke to Major League Soccer's Executive VP of Communications Dan Courtemanche in mid-May, expansion plans for the league were not firm. A second team in New York was soon-to-be-announced, but beyond that nothing was certain.
Well, at halftime of the MLS All-Star Game last night, Commissioner Don Garber shed more light on things. The league plans to add four more teams by 2020, bringing the total up to 24. Locations are TBD, but Garber said there has already been discussion with potential owners.
The timetable fits nicely into a team potentially coming to Minnesota and playing in the new Vikings stadium, which will open in 2016, since the Vikings will have exclusive rights to bring an MLS team to the new stadium for five years after it opens.
Courtemanche said in May that the new Vikings stadium -- despite having a roof and featuring turf and not being soccer-specific -- is viable for MLS. "No question," he said. "We believe it’s another strong indicator of the growth of soccer across the country when you have venues like this that can house not just a potential MLS team but a World Cup game in the future."
Vikings VP Lester Bagley said in May that the Vikings remain interested in an MLS franchise but said it is "on the backburner" for now.
Still, having a definite number of teams and clear timeline means markets can at least move forward.
And there was this in the MLS web site story: Wednesday’s news gives immediate hope to several markets looking to break into the league, such as Orlando, Miami, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Detroit and Sacramento, to name a few – several of whom had representatives presenting to the MLS Board of Governors here on Wednesday afternoon.