City Beat

Major League Soccer expansion bid appears headed for Cincinnati

It appears Cincinnati has beaten out Sacramento for the next expansion spot in Major League Soccer.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber will be in Cincinnati on Tuesday to make a 'significant announcement,' according to a report Thursday in The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Garber will be joined by FC Cincinnati owner Carl Lindner III, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley and team general manager Jeff Berding at an event in the city's Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, The Enquirer reported.

Cincinnati recently approved the construction of a new soccer stadium in the city's West End neighborhood, near downtown. That approval was seen as the final step in the city earning the 26th franchise in Major League Soccer.

Meanwhile, Sacramento is still searching for a deep-pocketed investor to lead its expansion bid. While the Cincinnati news is a blow to Sacramento's effort, Major League Soccer has said it intends to expand to 28 teams, although a time frame for the two additional expansion spots has not been announced.

Republic FC released a statement on Thursday saying news of Cincinnati's apparent ascension to MLS "does not deter our efforts nor does it hurt our chances of reaching our goal."

"Our bid to join MLS is alive and well," the statement read. "We are in late-stage discussions with investors and continue to work closely with Commissioner Garber and Mayor (Darrell) Steinberg. We want to thank our indomitable fans for their passion and continued support of this club and this city as we work to bring this process to the finish line.”

The mayor also released a statement, offering his "sincere congratulations to the city of Cincinnati and Mayor John Cranley."

"I can also assure our community that this does not change anything for Sacramento's quest to become a Major League Soccer expansion city," the mayor added. "We control our own destiny and remain firmly in the game. We continue to work with the Sacramento Republic to recruit new investors to bolster the overall strength and capacity of our ownership group. We also remain in on-going communication with Commissioner Garber's Office and could not be more appreciative of all of their efforts.

"Over the last few months, we have made a lot of great progress, and I am confident that we will have a positive update for our community in the near future."

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