Raleigh Not On MLS Expansion Short List

Nov 29, 2017

Steve Malik talks with reporters when he announced a proposed stadium plan for downtown Raleigh.
Credit Jason deBruyn / WUNC

Triangle soccer enthusiasts learned Wednesday that Raleigh is not on the short list to become the next home of a Major League Soccer franchise.

In a silver lining, however, Raleigh could still win a bid in a future expansion round.

In a statement on Wednesday, the North Carolina Football Club said it would continue to push to become an expansion city and look ahead to the next expansion round, possibly as soon as next year.

"North Carolina F.C. remains committed to pursuing a MLS franchise and is continuing to work diligently to secure a stadium in downtown Raleigh," according to the statement. "Momentum for the project continues to build and we look forward to continued dialogue with the community and with MLS as we demonstrate why the Triangle should be home to a franchise.”

A dozen cities submitted bids to become the homes of two new Major League Soccer teams. MLS is the top division of professional soccer in the United States. On Wednesday, MLS officials winnowed that list of 12 down to four: Sacramento, Cincinnati, Detroit and Nashville.

A rendering of the proposed downtown Raleigh soccer stadium, if North Carolina F.C. is admitted as a franchise in Major League Soccer.
Credit North Carolina F.C.

North Carolina F.C. plays professional soccer in Cary in a lower division. The team is owned by health care information technology entrepreneur Steve Malik, who bought the team in October of 2015, and added a National Women's Soccer League team on Jan. 9, 2016. The NWSL is the top women's league.

Malik and NCFC had pushed hard to convince MLS to look Raleigh's way. In July, Malik treated MLS officials to a helicopter tour of Raleigh to help seal the pitch.