MLS Expansion: Portland Talk Continues

MLS Expansion: Portland Talk Continues

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On June 26, 2008
  • Expansion Hopeful, MLS Expansion, Portland Expansion

We talked yesterday about the fading, if not ending hopes of an expansion club for Miami. Today another expansion hopeful is back in the press and is sounding very optimistic.

Its the Northwest discussion folks. Portland. More importantly the Portland Timbers getting a bump to the big leagues like their rival Seattle Sounders.

The news today sounds like the city is on board in getting plans worked out and finalized to get Portland in Major League Soccer and more importantly to some get the Triple-A Beavers into a new baseball stadium. Anytime you get the politicians on board with a project like this, you are in good condition to get things done.

The ‘new’ news surrounding Portland is the possibility of a club by 2010…not 2011 or 2012 like we all had originally thought.

“Dan Courtemanche, MLS senior vice president for marketing and communications, says Portland is in a group of nine North American cities identified as candidates to procure the league’s 17th and 18th franchises as early as 2010…

“We’ve been speaking often with Merritt and his group,” Courtemanche says. “Portland is a market we believe could be very successful in our league. There is a tremendous history of support there for not just soccer but other sporting events.

“There is a first-class ownership group and a booming Hispanic population in the area, and the demographics are what we call ‘New America’ — young, diverse and digital.”

“If it’s the right situation, (a new franchise) could potentially come in 2010, but the target is 2011 or even 2012,” he says.

Now of course other than the interesting news of 2010 possibilities we get a lot of the usual surrounding Portland’s bid. Upgrade the stadium, pay the expansion fee, move out the Beavers, yadda yadda yadda. Nothing really new to report there.

Total cost of the project could be around the $100 million mark for the Timbers, Beavers and the city of Portland. Not to bad in the grand scheme of things if you compare them to other MLS cities who are entering the league soon or have been there for a while.

One thing I love with Portland is just how on board everyone in the city government sounds about it. They know the value of a professional team in their area and what it will do to the city. That’s pretty cool to see when you think about it. It’s not just a couple of guys that really like soccer and want a club in their city. Its an owner with some cash, the city and even to a degree the fans stepping up for this one.

Does this news put Portland above some of the other cities in the mix for those next two spots? Maybe. It certainly puts some heat on cities like St. Louis or Montreal to get their stuff in order as soon as possible. I wouldn’t be shocked to see more talk about those two cities in the coming weeks here. Especially St. Louis, they had talks like they were really close to getting the right investors (which they needed) this summer. We haven’t heard anything on that since.

So we will see. I know some people out there will not want Portland but believe me its probably going to happen.