Major League Soccer will delay into the New Year a decision on whether to add Cincinnati, Detroit or Sacramento as its next expansion team.
Cincinnati and Sacramento both plan to build soccer specific stadiums with a mix of private and public funds. Detroit would use Ford Field, home of the National Football League Detroit Lions, as the home venue for its MLS franchise.
“All three submitted impressive bids which the league will take additional time to review before announcing a final decision in the New Year,” MLS said in a statement. Earlier this month MLS awarded Nashville, Tennessee a franchise. Nashville is one of two expansion teams the MLS had originally anticipated announcing by the end of 2017.
FC Cincinnati wants to build a soccer specific stadium as part of its bid. FC Cincinnati ownership says is would make a $200 million private investment in stadium construction but needs public funds to cover the $70 million to $75 million infrastructure cost for roads, sewers and utilities.
Jeff Berding, the organization’s general manager and president, said in November that the organization would user owner equity, team debt and direct stadium development revenues.
In late November, City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County officials voted to contribute a combined $51 million in public financing to support infrastructure improvements for the soccer stadium. FC Cincinnati is pursuing public money from the State of Ohio to get the public infrastructure package closer to the $70 million to $75 million it wants.
In Detroit, the MLS bid initially led by Tom Gores and Dan Gilbert was joined by the NFL Detroit Lions' owners, the Ford family, in late October. No public funds would be used for any adjustments that have to be made to fit a soccer field into Ford Field, according to published reports.
Gores and Gilbert had previously touted a soccer-specific stadium at the Gratiot Avenue jail site in downtown Detroit. That plan called for county bond financing, including unspent bond proceeds from the unfinished Gratiot jail at an approximate cost of $520.3 million.
Sacramento Republic FC owners have said they intend to privately finance a $226 million soccer stadium. However $46 million in infrastructure improvements that have been completed around the stadium site, which are included in the project’s $226 million price tag, have been credited to public agencies.
Nashville plans to use $225 million in bonds to build a new stadium at The Fairground Nashville. Under the stadium plan, the ownership group would pay $25 million up front and $9 million a year over 30 years to help retire the city’s annual $13 million debt for the $225 million bond issuance.
Sales tax revenue generated by the stadium, as well as a $1.75 ticket tax that would increase over time, is designed to cover the remaining $4 million. The city would be on the hook to pay the difference if projections fall short.