Carolina Trying To Add Their Name To Expansion Race

Carolina Trying To Add Their Name To Expansion Race

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On March 16, 2012
  • 6 Comments
  • Carolina Expansion, Carolina RailHawks FC, Features, MLS Expansion

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.

Orlando is already making that noise, and apparently now so is Carolina.

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.

  • emg117

    I wonder if this is Traffic’s grand strategy? They’ve been removing themselves and all their top talent from South Florida all offseason. Makes you kinda think they are trying to concentrate on Carolina.

    PS Be careful going to the IndySports website. Some not-so-safe-for-work ads blaring on that website. Wowza!

    • http://wvhooligan.com Drew Epperley

      Yeah, I do wonder if MLS really wants to be in business with Traffic as it is. Hard to tell really.

      • emg117

        Whats interesting is that when Traffic originally came to the US they were excited to get involved with MLS until they realized they couldn’t control the player contracts. Whats changed?

        Also funny is, their quasi-partner, FC Barca, had similar comprehension problems when they played with joining MLS in Miami in 2009.

  • jv
  • mlsfantasy.net

    The Triangle isn’t a bad area for a Carolina MLS expansion, but I still think Charlotte would have to be it if it were to happen. But I would say it’s a marginal prospect that should develop more before ever being considered at this point. MLS has earned the right to be picky, and even if they did have the capital, this would just seem like a reach right now.

    Add in Traffic getting a seat at the table, and now you feel dirty on top of it. I think i’d rather have Dan Borislow own a team.

    I agree that, in general, if they’re going to go Southeast, it would almost have to be two. However, maybe not so much for Carolina, or even a place like Virginia Beach, which aren’t too far removed geographically from D.C. More for outliers like Orlando, who need a closer regional buddy. Really, aside from the ownership issue, that’s one of the main reasons the two Florida teams were contracted to begin with. Just too isolated. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Allen-Graetz/500690925 Allen Graetz

      Too isolated?  No city with a major league sports team is more isolated than Denver.   Salt Lake City is an 8 1/2 hour drive; KC is 9 – 9 1/2 hours.  If it was about isolation, the Rapids would’ve been gone around the time they popped up at RFK for MLS Cup 98.