What is the process of having a club in mls?
While there is no standardized way to create a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise, MLS is currently undergoing expansion, and we have a solid idea of the criteria needed to bring one to your favorite city.
Step 1: Wealthy and Stable Ownership Group
As we've covered in previous questions, MLS is a single entity structure, meaning that the league looks for investor/operators when adding a new franchise. The franchise will be owned by Major League Soccer, with the "owners" being the group that controls the day to day of the franchise, will having a say in all league business. Thus, when creating a new franchise, the ownership must usually pay some kind of expansion fee (varies depending on the year and terms, but is in the hundreds of millions) and be able to show a long term plan for financial success. For example, it's believed Sacramento, CA did not receive a franchise due to a last minute change in ownership group.
Step 2: Soccer Specific Stadium
When MLS first started, the league often played in existing football stadiums across the country. Fastforward and league has franchises with state of the art, soccer specific stadiums in all of their newest markets, such as Orlando, FL and Los Angeles, CA, and older franchises building new ones, such as Washington, DC and San Jose, CA. It was widely reported that the newest franchise ownership groups in Cincinnati, OH and Nashville, TN had assurances for soccer specific stadia within the first few years of operation, much like what's in place in Minneapolis.
Finally, a Lot of Luck
Plenty of cities officially submitted failed expansion bids to MLS, such as San Antonio, TX and Sacramento, CA. A franchise bid's success rides on so many factors, there's no way to discount luck.