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Live From Soccerex: MLS Set To Expand To 30 Teams

MLS commissioner Don Garber confirms the league will expand to 30 teams.

 

Speaking at Soccerex USA in Miami today (21st Nov), commissioner Garber told the audience that the league would expand to 30 teams with the possibility of growing to 32.

 

Answering questions by former USA national team legend, Alexi Lalas, Garber said: “We have 24 teams in now and we have 16 teams coming in over the next couple of years.”

 

Garber stated that the 30th team will be announced at the end of the year and pointed to the growing interest in soccer in the US that is driving the expansion, citing markets such as Austin in Texas as an example of this growing demand. 

 

“Austin, Texas was not a market we thought would be a thriving soccer market. They have 30,000 season ticket deposits on a stadium that opens in 2021 of 20,000 seats which was unimaginable 3 years ago. So there’s a lot of demand in our country.” 

 

The expansion of MLS to 30 teams is, in many ways, a way to tackle the demands on teams travelling to games. “Our country is massive,” he said. “It crosses three timezones and differing climate zones, so a larger league is necessary. 30 is right, 32 can happen but I don’t think it’s happening anytime soon.”

 

The $300m cost of entry into the MLS along with the minimum $300m investment into stadia and training facilities seems not to be off putting to the new wave of investors to the league. 

 

This growing demand is due in part to the changing media landscape for soccer in the US, to which Garber, commented:  “The is more soccer/football on television in the United States than any other sport by a long shot.”

 

He also pointed to the changing way sport is consumed and that the MLS’s predominantly young audience consuming the sport via OTT rather than traditional broadcasting services. 

 

*A full report on MLS at 25 will be available in the next issue of fcbusiness due out in December. 

 

Image: Don Garber and Alexli Lalas during the MLS at 25 session during Day 1 of Soccerex USA at JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort on November 21, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images for Soccerex)