I knew it was only a matter of time. After the Portland Timbers, the Seattle Sounders, the Montreal Impact and the Vancouver Whitecaps left the second division soccer for higher waters in MLS, you just knew the clubs below them in the bottom tiers wanted to make the same jump.
Reports out of the Triangle in North Carolina say that MLS front office executives will be meeting with local fans, media and various business and civic leaders, according Curt Johnson, president of the Carolina RailHawks.
Carolina’s group knows they have some of the right ingredients to make MLS work in their market. But just like other groups they lack one important thing, enough money to pull it off.
“Really what it boils down to are three things,” Johnson explains. “Do you have a marketplace that MLS is interested in coming to, do you have an owner with deep, deep pockets that’s interested in investing and do you have a stadium of [MLS] caliber? … In some ways, not to over simplify, but we’re one person’s decision away from [the Triangle] being an MLS marketplace, where the right person says this is a market I want to invest in.”
I’ve long said on this site that when MLS expands back into the Southeast that it can’t just do it with one club, it has to be at least two teams. I’ve also been a big fan of a team in North Carolina for a long time as well as it could potentially give say Orlando a rival and D.C. another rival. It would bridge that gap in the map for MLS.
Now is this the perfect place for MLS? Maybe, or maybe not. It is still too early to tell to be honest. WakeMed Park, the home of the Carolina Railhawks, is too small for MLS and would certainly have to undergo a major facelift to get to MLS levels (adding suites, more seats and better game-day experience for fans).
But like they are already saying, they just need that one person with enough money to make it happen.