Yesterday afternoon was MLS Commissioner Don Garber’s annual State of the League address. The media call lasted over a hour and a half, with loads of questions ranging from mostly about David Beckham to New York expansion. One bit of the discussion did dip into the usual expansion talk regarding the Southeast.
Once again the front runners for that region of the country centered around Orlando and Atlanta. The roadblocks continue to center around the stadium issues with each city.
“It certainly would hinge on the new stadium because otherwise there wouldn’t be a place to play,” Garber said about the potential of expansion into Atlanta in partnership with the NFL’s Falcons and their owner Arthur Blank. “Should the public sector and private sector be able to come together and get a new facility for the Falcons, it would allow us to continue our discussions on how MLS can fit into their mutual plans.” “We’ll continue to monitor what’s happening down there and I think at some point, if they’re able to finalize a stadium plan that make sense, we’d be very interested on working with them on an MLS team.”
Garber indicated that the Georgia Dome, the Atlanta Silverbacks stadium and other existing college facilities in the area are not suitable to be the home for a new MLS expansion team.
Orlando is in a similar boat stadium wise as the city and Orlando City FC continue to figure out their future plans regarding the Citrus Bowl.
Garber brought up two other cities as possible expansion cites for the league, Minneapolis and Miami. Naturally the South Florida folks will flock to hearing their city being named again – Garber was quick to note that it makes sense but “it’s certainly not now.”
For now the league is focused on New York as the next expansion site. There is little doubt that they will push forward with any other expansion site before things in the Big Apple are settled one way or the other.