July 20 – The MLS has announced more casualties of the coronavirus, announcing it is postponing the inaugural seasons of three expansion clubs. Charlotte’s debut will move from 2021 to 2022 while St. Louis and Sacramento, will now begin play in 2023, instead of 2022.
The estimated cost of the pandemic to the MLS and its clubs is reckoned to be in the region of $1 billion.
The decision delay the entry of three franchises was taken with the league and the clubs with the various readiness of their new-build stadia being the key reasons for delay, alongside the feeling more time was needed to build commercial operations.
Charlotte’s renovation of Bank of America Stadium has been delayed while there have been construction delays for Sacramento’s new 21,000-seat stadium. St. Louis’ new stadium is also struggling to projected timelines.
Austin, whose stadium is still expected to be ready for 2021, is still scheduled to debiut next season.
MLS commissioner Don Barber (pictured) said in a statement: “We have always taken a thoughtful and strategic approach to our expansion planning and have delivered successful launches for every new club. It is important for each club to take the necessary time to launch their inaugural MLS seasons the way their fans and communities deserve. With the extra year to make up for what has been a challenging 2020, these teams will be well-positioned for their debuts and for long-term success.”
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