In less than 12 hours, two sides are set to the play for the 2022 Major League Rugby title. Two other sides could already be eliminated from 2023 contention.
Martin Pengelly, reporting for The Guardian, had the scoop in a pre-Championship interview with MLR Commissioner George Killebrew:
“He [Killebrew] also said long-rumored expansion teams in Chicago and St Louis were “close but I’m not sure they get the finsh line for ’23″”Martin Pengelly
If either or both sides are unable to join the league in 2023, it will leave serious questions about the makeup of MLR. Austin remains up for sale, while LA continues to stay silent over its playoff disqualification. Additionally, Killebrew didn’t rule out other bids for 2023. While its unlikely that another serious group could remain completely under the radar and be in a position for a 2023 launch, its not entirely impossible.
Pengelly also notes that Chicago could have a fantastic stadium option in SeakGeek Stadium. The 28,000-seat venue was vacated by the MLS’s Chicago Fire when they moved to the much larger Soldier Field. The venue still hosts the Chicago II developmental side and the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars, but an MLR side would do well to make that call.
Of the two bids, Saint Louis has seemed the more promising. We’ve done extensive writing on the Saint Louis Knights, which you can read here. The Chicago bid (rumored to be named the Chicago Bison) has been harder to track.