If you thought that everybody was already looking to get into the MLS expansion team race, you may need to expand your definition of “everybody.” The latest contender: Sacramento suburb Elk Grove, which according to the Sacramento Bee (paywall in place, but just cancel out before the nag box has loaded and you can read the article fine) “is shooting for a major league goal of building a $100 million soccer stadium filled with 18,000 screaming fans.” The Elk Grove city council “has not identified a revenue source” for building the stadium, writes the Bee, and doesn’t have a site, and doesn’t know whether there’s public support for any of this.
Still, they’re going ahead with exploring the idea, as they “see the proposal as an economic driver and a catalyst to finish construction of the abandoned Elk Grove Promenade mall.” Because surely developers will be all over building a mall once they find out that 18,000 fans, screaming or otherwise, will be driving past 17 times a year. If Elk Grove even ends up getting an MLS franchise, since it’d be in competition for one with Sacramento, along with about a billion other cities.
I have to hand it to MLS, frankly: They’ve managed to take what could have been seen as a disadvantage — they’re not quite popular enough to be considered a major sports league — and turned it into a selling point: By considering pretty much anyone for expansion franchises, regardless of market size, they’re getting all sorts of localities with delusions of grandeur (or at least “economic drivers”) to throw money at soccer-only stadiums. Though they still have a long way to go before they can catch the true pioneers of this strategy.