Nashville expected to be named MLS expansion franchise

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(Reuters) – Nashville are expected to be named Major League Soccer’s (MLS) newest expansion franchise when commissioner Don Garber makes an “important announcement” in the Tennessee state capital on Wednesday.

Garber will appear alongside Tennessee state governor Bill Haslam, city mayor Megan Barry and the lead investor of Nashville’s expansion group, John Ingram, the league said.

MLS included Nashville on a short-list of four bidders for the two expansion teams that are scheduled to begin playing by 2020. The other three were Cincinnati, Detroit and Sacramento.

Nashville meets the three criteria deemed most important to MLS — an approved stadium, a soccer-hungry public and an ownership group with deep pockets to cover the $150 million expansion fee.

The expansion group includes the Wilf brothers, who own the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League (NFL).

The Nashville metro council last month voted to commit to bond funding for a new $275 million stadium.

Although Nashville has little soccer tradition, more than 56,000 attended an exhibition between English Premier League teams Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur in July.

Nashville already has two major league sports franchises — the Tennessee Titans of the NFL and the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League (NHL).

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina)

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