INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis was not named one of the four finalists for the next expansion of Major League Soccer, the league announced Wednesday.
MLS is expanding in 2020 to add two more teams, and Indy Eleven was trying to be one of those teams. The four cities that made the cut to be a finalist are Detroit, Cincinnati, Nashville and Sacramento.
Indy Eleven submitted a bid to be part of MLS on Jan 31, 2017.
The MLS is looking to grow from 24 teams to 28 teams with the current expansion plans. The expansion fee for teams 25 and 26 is $150 million, a record-high fee. That cost doesn't include building a stadium.
“The expansion fee really is the start of a huge investment in MLS from each group," MLS commissioner Don Garber said in 2016. "As every potential market will be building a stadium, that leads to an investment that will go well north of $300 million.”
Indy Eleven released the following statement on the announcement:
We’re not surprised by the announcement. We’ve always understood that while the criteria MLS weights for considering expansion includes the market, ownership group and stadium plans, the primary driver is the level of planning and implementation of stadium efforts via a private/public partnership. Indy Eleven remains committed to advancing the efforts of a public/private partnership required for the stadium to become a reality and raising awareness about the positive force a professional soccer team can bring to our community. We are planning on being a finalist for the next round of MLS expansion opportunities.
The crux of Indy Eleven's bid for MLS expansion was the stadium. Indiana legislators did not approve funding for a "private-public partnership" stadium in the spring, as Indy Eleven President Jeff Belskus wanted.
Belskus envisioned a 20,000-seat venue near “stadium village” southwest of Lucas Oil Stadium. It would be south of McCarty Street, east of Kentucky Avenue and west of West Street.
The team was close almost three years ago when the Indiana House approved a plan to authorize more than $80 million for a new stadium. The Senate approved a version of that bill that authorized about $20 million in improvements to Michael Carroll Stadium. The two sides couldn’t come to an agreement on the actual bill, and it died.
The teams that submitted a bid to be part of the expansion, but weren't named to be new expansion teams will be considered for teams 27 and 28, which isn't expected to be announced anytime soon.
Even though it wasn't named as a finalist, Indianapolis is still technically in the running for the next round of MLS expansion teams.
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