- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On January 15, 2008
- 10 Comments
Its the middle of January and we are nearing in on the league announcing whether or not they will play with 16 teams in 2009 or with 15. The deadline is rapidly approaching and you can tell that some cities are hoping to sneak in on the last second to join Seattle in 2009.
The easiest way to sum things up about the race is down to two cities:
– St. Louis has a stadium deal in place with the city but Jeff Cooper needs a group of people to back him up in the money department to really get the league’s attention this time around.
– Philadelphia is still waiting on approval from their state for funding of a stadium.
Those two cities are waiting while a couple more are trying to sneak into the picture in the final hours:
Montreal is trying to sneak into the mix with their hope of becoming Canada’s next club in the MLS. Unlike St. Louis or Philadelphia, Montreal will already have a stadium as the USL’s Impact are just about finished building a 13,500-seat, natural grass home (they will need to expand it 18,000, which they are already planning on doing).
Impact owner Joey Saputo is very good friends with billionaire George Gillett, who happens to own NHL’s Montreal Canadiens and co-own EPL’s Liverpool. The two aren’t joining together anytime soon but if they did Montreal could turn some heads in the MLS with owners with real deep pockets and a fan base that could be better than Toronto’s.
There is also still an issue of Toronto FC having an exclusive right to the Canadian market through 2010, but from what I hear the two sides are already talking about a deal. Sure the Reds are benefiting some by having all of Canada to themselves right now but having a big rival of their own wouldn’t hurt at all.
Then there is Miami. Apparently with the MLS Combine back in Florida this past weekend, Don Garber got some old feelings mixed up in his head when he discussed the possibility of Miami being in the expansion fold again due to a downtown stadium on the site of the old Orange Bowl.
Now I like Miami, I think the league would be wise to return to the city, but not now. Maybe in about six or eight years it would be better, especially after a stadium is built.
And of course Portland will always want a team until they get one. I think this city is still on the bubble and probaby won’t get any consideration until PGE Park gets upgraded or at least have the ball rolling in terms of actual construction on the Park.
Lastly is one that will happen, even if it ticks off a few markets that want a club, New York City. The thing I love about this is how people always say that no one supports the Red Bulls so why would New York need a second club. First the Red Bulls play in New Jersey, and second this club would actually be in NYC. Yes a New York named club not in New Jersey, the idea is weird but it will work.
The reason the league wants another New York club and will get one are simple. Once Philly joins the league there will be six clubs (including the expansion New York) in a small region that would allow fans to travel to near by teams for away matches. Eight clubs if you were to include Columbus being not to far in the mix and potentially Montreal if they joined the league.
That’s a nice little region with two New York clubs, maybe two Canadian clubs, DC, Columbus, Philly and New England all within reasonable driving distance of one another. It makes sense for the league to do something like this.
Also wanting a club still are Cleveland, Vancouver, and Las Vegas.
Honestly, I think the league will still annouce some city at the end of this month to join Seattle. Another year of an un-balanced schedule will not fly if you ask me.
Cooper and St. Louis are still my vote and I think they will find what they need soon enough.
“We’re confident that we’ll find the right partners very soon,” Cooper said. “You have to remember that it’s easier to find money than great partners, and that’s our mission. This community deserves a first-class MLS ownership group. We won’t quit until we put that group together.”
But don’t get me wrong, I want Philly in there too but if they can’t get their stadium now then the league needs to work with that group and get it all ironed out for the next round in a couple years.
Either way you can still bet on St. Louis and Philly being in the MLS in the future. One will be in 2009 and the other in probably 2011 or 2012 with probably a second New York club. But with other cities like Montreal and Miami picking up steam this next expansion bid could be anyones if the league gets the right offer. Most people worry over stadium deals and such but the important part is who is running the club. If they know the game and are passionate about it (and have deep pockets) then the league cannot turn them away in my opinion.
The next two weeks will be interesting to see what happens. Feel free to share who you think will get it and who should get it. Portland people I know you want it to be you, but give me more reasons than just your own personal desires here (you wouldn’t believe the emails I get over this subject).