Major League Soccer says, despite selecting four finalists for two new expansion franchise slots, Indianapolis and seven other cities are still in the running for the next two. The city, currently home to the Indy Eleven of the North American Soccer League, was beaten out in this portion of the selection process by finalists Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville and Sacramento.
Semifinalists Indianapolis, Charlotte, Phoenix, Raleigh/Durham, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa/St. Petersburg, the league stresses, are all being considered for another round of two new expansion franchises that will be detailed at a later date.
The newly-announced finalists will deliver presentations to the MLS Expansion Committee in New York City on December 6. A discussion involving representatives from the current slate of MLS teams will follow on December 14.
In a statement, Indy Eleven Director of Marketing and Communications Steve Krusie said:
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 professional soccer team can bring to our community. We are planning on being a finalist for the next round of MLS expansion opportunities.
Indy Eleven and its owner Ersal Ozdemir submitted the Indianapolis pitch in January.
In January, Indy Eleven President Jeff Belskus discussed the future of the franchise on Inside INdiana Business Television: