- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On April 30, 2008
- 8 Comments
Want Major League Soccer in your city? Well, the price for your potential owner(s) just went up a bit. News today out of Portland says that in order for the city (and probably any other city now) to get a MLS franchise they will have to fork over $40 million.
The new entry fee: at least $40 million. That’s up from the $30 million MLS is charging ownership groups in Seattle and Philadelphia to bring their cities franchises in the next two years.
A lot would have to happen as we all know by now for Portland to get a MLS club. The stadium they play in (PGE Park) would have to undergo a serious update from it’s current state. Second, the owner group lead by Portland Timbers and Portland Beavers owner Merritt Paulson would have to propose a deal that would make sense for MLS (one like with Seattle and Philly).
Paulson’s biggest hurdle could be getting his Triple-A baseball team into a park of its own. MLS has been pretty strict on where their teams play and who they share their stadiums with these days. Right now they would like the Timbers to be out of PGE within five years of being granted a potential expansion site.
He is expected to present his plan to MLS within the next two months, most likely in June but more than likely nothing will get done on any stadium renovations at PGE or a deal for the new baseball park for the Timbers until after November, one the elections are over.
Most who know my stance on expansion know that I believe there has to be a team in the northwest with Seattle for the league to be a success in that area. I know some in the south in Miami will cry foul about not having a team in that area and how they will be better but I am willing to bet a lot more money on Portland (or even Vancouver) being a better success in MLS than a rebirth in Miami or Tampa, or even a team in Atlanta.
PGE Park may not be the sexiest looking place to see a game but with a little makeover it would easily be one of the toughest venues in MLS. With recent expansions to Toronto, Seattle and Philly, MLS has put in place a club in areas with homemade supporters groups. Portland would be just like those three in that they would gobble up season tickets, be loud and proud during games, and most importantly give Seattle the rival it needs in this league.
The one concern has to be though, will Paulson be able to not only spend the money on the expansion bid but be able to impress MLS enough to get that bid. He said he is willing to spend the money on the bid and let the city take care of the rest (reportedly a $55 million slice of the pie).
There is also no assurance that the league won’t raise the expansion fee again. Toronto paid just $10 million, San Jose paid $20 million to rejoin the league, while Seattle and Philly are in the $30 million neighborhood. Also beating out the likely front-runner in the expansion bid (St. Louis) will be tough as well as beating out other high hopefuls like Montreal and Miami.
Expansion is getting more expensive but as the league grows I think it has to be that way.