- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On April 22, 2010
- 9 Comments
- Atlanta Expansion, MLS Expansion, MLS Montreal, Montreal Expansion
It looks as though the MLS to Montreal movement will happen fairly soon. The AP reports today suggest the league is moving forward on it’s plan to expand to Montreal. An official announcement should come soon. For some time it has been known that the league was expecting to announce Montreal as it’s 19th club.
The AP report also says that the league hopes club number 20 will be in the Southeast with Atlanta or somewhere in Florida mentioned as the possible destination.
“We’re confident that we’ll be able to announce a 19th team shortly, and our hope is that 19th team will be in Montreal,” he said Thursday during a meeting with the Associated Press Sports Editors.
“Eventually I’m sure we’ll get back to the southeast broadly and Florida more specifically,” Garber said. “I’m not quite sure what the timing is of that. but I can’t image this league will be fully expanded without having a team in Florida or south of Washington, D.C. We continue to have discussions in Atlanta. I think Atlanta’s a good sports market, also has some competition for its size, but lots of youth participation and a massive and growing Mexican population in Atlanta. Those are probably the two places where we look, South Florida and Atlanta, as the next places in the southeast.”
“We in the sports business sort of look at Florida as a difficult market. Many of the pro sports teams there have challenges, and there’s a lot of reasons for that: a lot of transient residents, a lot of international visitors that own second homes,” he said. “Weather is a big issue Florida, both in terms of rain and the fact that it’s very hot when you want to play your games. People have an alternative — they can go to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.”
Garber also discussed growing the league beyond what FIFA would like them to with an 18-club league. He stated due to the US (and Canada) being as large as it is and stretching over three timezones that expanding over 18 clubs seems logical. I still hold firm in my belief the league will eventually end up with 24 teams a few less than the standard in the professional sports leagues here in America.
Back to Montreal for a second though. We knew this deal was coming and really the timing makes sense now that things are all in order with the bid for Montreal owner Joey Saputo. I highly doubt he was able to work his way into the league for 2011 but 2012 will likely be the year Montreal comes into MLS. With the three big Canadian markets you have to wonder if MLS is done expanding in Canada. I think it is but some folks north of the border may thing otherwise.
Now as for the news about going back south I think its a good thing for the league to turn it’s focus down there. I know deep down Garber probably wants another club in New York as soon as possible but putting clubs back in the south right now if the right owners step up makes the most sense. I’d have to think Atlanta is the front runner right now for the South, unless someone in Miami steps up to the plate in a big way.