- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On May 18, 2009
- 2 Comments
- Expansion Hopeful, MLS Expansion, Montreal Expansion
Is expansion to Montreal a possibility for 2011 along with Portland and Vancouver? It sure sounds like it.
Montreal Impact owner Joey Saputo spoke over the weekend that he is confident the club could announce an expansion bid into Major League Soccer by the end of this month.
If everything falls into place, and expectations are high they will, Montreal could be awarded an MLS franchise by the end of the month to begin play in 2011, after meetings of the league’s expansion committee.
Saputo met with MLS commissioner Don Garber and league president Mark Abbott in New York a week ago Thursday and told reporters last night efforts to join North America’s premier league were “definitely back on the rails.”
“Our meeting went very well,” Saputo said. “The fact that there’s an opportunity for the (Quebec) government to get involved to increase the capacity of the stadium to 21,000 with $25 million, definitely helped the potential for us to get a franchise.”
These statements were pretty much inline with other reports from Canadian press over the week as well.
“Whatever happened in the past, it’s time to turn the page on it and move forward,” Saputo said. “They see Montreal as a great market, we see Montreal as a great potential franchise in the MLS and it’s time for us to look at that.”
A joint bid by Saputo and Montreal Canadiens owner George Gillett was rejected by MLS last October because it failed to meet the league’s $40 million expansion fee. The Saputo bid was for more than $40 million, but it included costs related to expanding Saputo Stadium from 13,000 to 21,000 seats.
“We did the numbers and we were comfortable back then that the total investment to get an MLS franchise was over $45 million, which would have been the franchise (fee) and the increase of the stadium,” Saputo said. “The amount we’re going to be putting in will still be close to $40 million, so that doesn’t change and we still feel comfortable with that.”
The only concern remains is the dilution of the player pool with the additional club into the league. MLS is adding it’s 16th club next year in Philadelphia followed by Vancouver and Portland the following year.
But with that Saputo believes he can do something similar to what Seattle did this year by bringing in a decent amount of the USL side into the league.
“My point is that I don’t look at Montreal as an expansion franchise,” Saputo said. “If I take a look at the team that we have and maybe strengthen it with three or four players, I don’t need to turn around and pick up 23 new players. I think that’s a positive on our end.”
The more you hear about this bid the more it sounds like the league is heading in Montreal’s direction very soon. I still have a feeling they may be a year off an enter the league in 2012 along with another club like possibly in St. Louis. Just a hunch though on that.