Major League Soccer will announce next week St. Louis has secured one of the three expansion slots currently available, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
The newspaper said multiple sources, speaking anonymously, confirmed the league and the city’s soccer expansion group have come to terms on a deal, and that plans will be announced next Tuesday in St. Louis.
A tweet from Sports Illustrated reporter Brian Straus confirmed the move.
That leaves just two more expansion spots available for Sacramento and at least a half dozen other cities that have expressed interest in joining the top soccer league in the U.S.
Sacramento investor group representatives said negotiations continue between the league and the team.
“We are in daily discussions with Major League Soccer as we finalize the agreement to bring an expansion club to Sacramento,” Sacramento Republic said in an email statement. “We are deeply appreciative of the ongoing efforts of Commissioner Garber, his MLS colleagues and owners, the Republic FC investor group and Mayor Darrell Steinberg, as we work in unison to get the deal done for our city and our incredibly patient fan base.”
Team president Ben Gumpert declined further comment.
League officials announced in April that they would enter into formal negotiations with St. Louis and Sacramento in hopes of filling the 28th and 29th spots in the league, and they would weigh other cities for a 30th team.
League commissioner Don Garber said two weeks ago talks with a Sacramento investment group, led by Los Angeles supermarket billionaire Ron Burkle, had not yet led to a deal.
Garber said, however, he plans to visit Sacramento soon, and hopes that St. Louis and Sacramento could be on board to start league play by 2022. The city’s current Sacramento Republic FC, which plays in the lower-tier United Soccer League, will give way to the MLS team if the city secures a franchise.
League officials declined comment Wednesday on the St. Louis situation. MLS representatives could not immediately be reached for an update on the status of the Sacramento talks.
League Commissioner Garber recently said MLS is taking a serious look at Charlotte, North Carolina, for as a potential expansion city. Las Vegas, Phoenix, Raleigh and Detroit are among the other cities vying for a franchise.