Expansion brings new hope for groups trying to lure MLS to Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — There is renewed hope for groups hoping to lure Major League Soccer to Charlotte.

The league announced it is expanding to 30 teams from its current number of 24.

Related coverage:

USA Today reports the MLS board is talking to groups in various cities.

No decisions on expansion markets were finalized, but Sacramento and St. Louis appear to have a leg up on the competition as they've been asked to make formal presentations to the MLS Expansion Committee "to address each bid’s final stadium plan, corporate commitments, the composition of the respective ownership groups, detailed economics on funding, strategic plans for fan development, commitments on player development and details on community programs," MLS officials said in a news release.

The next two teams that form will have to pay an expansion fee of $200 million.

The commissioner said the league has had "positive discussions" with Charlotte.

“Professional soccer at all levels is thriving in the United States and Canada and we believe there are many markets that could support a successful MLS club,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a league statement. “Expansion during the last 15 years has been enormously successful and a key driver behind the league’s continued rise, and we are pleased that some of the top business and community leaders representing great markets in North America are aggressively pursuing MLS expansion clubs.”