Whitman joins Sacramento MLS expansion bid
NEW YORK (AP) — Meg Whitman, the CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co., joined the bid of Sacramento, California, for a Major League Soccer franchise on Wednesday as the four finalists made presentations to the league’s expansion committee.
Sacramento and Nashville, Tennessee, are considered the favorites to be awarded teams next month. Cincinnati and Detroit also are bidding.
“Each group presented their vision for their club, a detailed stadium plan and an overview of their market,” the league said in a statement.
Sacramento’s bid includes Kevin Nagle, a minority owner of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, and Jed York, CEO of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers. The group said in July it was starting pre-construction activity for a 19,621-seat downtown stadium.
“The committee asked very tough questions, and we’ll come back with all the answers,” Nagle said. “We never take anything for granted.”
Nashville’s group includes John Ingram, the chairman of Ingram Industries Inc., and the Wilf family, owner of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. The Metro Nashville City Council on Nov. 7 approved $225 million in revenue bonds to construct a 27,500-seat soccer stadium and an additional $50 million in bonds for renovations and improvements around the site at the current fairgrounds.
“People all across our city, from elected officials to business and civic leaders, soccer fans and the public, have joined together in support of this bid,” Ingram said. “We believe MLS and Nashville are a perfect match and are ready to prove that Music City is Soccer City.”
Cincinnati’s group includes Carl H. Lindner III, co-CEO of American Financial Group and owner of FC Cincinnati in the second-tier United Soccer League. The Cincinnati City Council approved a plan for the city to invest up to $36 million in infrastructure such as roads around a privately funded stadium. The community council in the Oakley neighborhood where the stadium would be built voted against the proposal.
Detroit’s group is seen as having the poorest chance after announcing Nov. 1 it would use Ford Field, home of the NFL’s Lions. The group includes Dan Gilbert, owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers and chairman of Quicken Loans Inc., and Tom Gores, owner of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons and chairman of Platinum Equity.
MLS owners plan to discuss expansion when they meet in New York on Dec. 14.
The league has 22 teams this season and Los Angeles FC is to start play in March at a new stadium under construction near the Coliseum. Former Manchester United, Real Madrid and LA Galaxy star David Beckham was tentatively awarded a Miami team in 2014, but that is contingent on a stadium site he has thus far failed to secure.
The league in 2015 announced plans to expand to 28 teams and said last December that teams 25 and 26 will start play by 2020.