- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On June 25, 2009
- 10 Comments
- MLS Expansion, Montreal Expansion
Nothing like some MLS expansion news to brighten your day.
ESPNsoccernet is reporting that Montreal Impact owner Joey Saputo is aggressively trying to secure a MLS expansion bid for his club for the 2011 seasons along with Portland and Vancouver. From the article it sounds like the league is open to the idea of another expansion club.
“I’m trying to push for 2011,” Saputo said. “I feel very, very comfortable that we’ll be ready. We’ve spoken about that with the [MLS] commissioner [Don Garber], and he understands that.”
Apparently Saputo has been at the league front offices a few times over the last couple months discussing the expansion bid. He expects to receive $25 million in funding from the government of Quebec that would be used to expand Saputo Stadium from 13,000 to 21,000 seats. He expects to have an answer within the next few weeks.
Saputo also brings up a good point about the possible over expansion to the league. I think it’s a point that hasn’t been made enough about these USL sides coming to MLS in a couple years.
“There is some concern from the MLS that too much expansion too quickly might hurt the product,” Saputo said. “But I try to prove the point to commissioner Garber that I wouldn’t look at Montreal as an expansion franchise. I don’t think that we’re going to have to pick up 22 new players.”
“With the core we have, we could add four or five key players that could really make a difference and be competitive in MLS right away,” Saputo said.
As we saw with Seattle the clubs won’t be a typical expansion side. This means they won’t be going out to fill all the roster spots of the club like most expansion teams do. They will be able to fill some of their roster with existing players from their USL side. Seattle did that this year with about a third or so of their roster and only relied on a couple drafts and a few player signings to fill the rest.
Vancouver and Portland will be no different. Montreal would more than likely follow that sort of plan.
Another key thing mentioned in the article was how the expansion fee would be paid. Last year as we all know MLS balked at the expansion bid that Saputo and his group laid out. They wanted to use some of the money to expand the stadium and the league did not like that. This time the expansion fee will be set to be paid out in a five-year period.
Saputo doesn’t want to wait any longer than 2011 here and really who can blame him. I still believe his bid is more ready than the two that were already announced by the league for 2011. Its just now a matter of time if the league likes what they see with Montreal. I think something will get done and we will have another expansion club for 2011.