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Major League Soccer is increasingly focused on Sacramento, Calif., and St. Louis as the home for its next expansion team.

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber photographed at the Four Seasons in St. Louis on Monday, March 11, 2019. Photo by David Carson, dcarson@post-dispatch.com

Commissioner Don Garber, in a conversation with the Post-Dispatch on Monday, said that league owners are looking to make a decision on their 28th team before the end of the year. And while the league has been in serious discussions with several other cities regarding expansion, ownership groups in those cities — including Charlotte, N.C., Phoenix and Las Vegas, Garber said — will have to wait.

“Those are cities that, should we ever decide to expand beyond 28, would have to be considered as part of a next round,” Garber said.

The future of at least one city recently considered a top contender — Detroit — is now unclear, Garber said. “I’ve been in regular conversations with them,” Garber said. “And we still struggle with their stadium plan.”

Two years ago, Detroit had been a front-runner in the fight for the 24th spot, but, after the Motor City’s storied owners abandoned plans to build a soccer-specific open-air stadium, the league picked Cincinnati last spring instead. It has since announced three other teams, in Miami, Nashville, Tenn., and Austin, Texas, opening in 2020 and 2021.

Detroit is an important market for the league, Garber said, but the stadium has to be right.

“Sports teams ought to be forever. They’re not always that way, but you make the decision with that in mind,” Garber said on Monday. “We think that in order for us to be successful in that city, we need a soccer-specific stadium. And the options that we’re presented with today are only at Ford Field.”

At the same time, Garber gushed about St. Louis’ proposed site, next to Union Station on Market Street just west of downtown.

“It really checks off a lot of boxes,” he said. “It’s got the right support from the public sector. Everybody’s feeling good about that.”


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