- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On June 4, 2013
- 3 Comments
- 2016 MLS Expansion, David Beckham, Features, Miami Expansion, MLS Expansion, Orlando Expansion
The day Major League Soccer announced New York City FC for 2015, I was told the following was a very strong possibility for the next round of expansion.
I have confirmed with my sources along with reports from yesterday on a Florida soccer site called The Scoring Third (you should all check it out to stay up to day on everything Orlando based here), that MLS could ‘package’ a deal to bring in two Florida cities to the league in 2016.
Two expansion teams in one season isn’t unheard of for MLS. They’ve done this three times in the league history bringing in Miami and Chicago in 1998, Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake in 2004 and then again in 2010 with the Portland Timbers and the Vancouver Whitecaps.
MLS would bring in both Miami and Orlando together in 2016. Bringing the total number of teams up to 22.
Naturally the Miami deal with involve David Beckham. This bid is said to have a team play at a temporary venue for their first season (or two), likely at Florida International University (FIU) Stadium. They have plans for a SSS to eventually be built but I am being told that it may not be finished until the 2020 season. So, while the Miami bid has legs, the SSS part of it seems a tad sketchy to me. I don’t mind the notion of a Miami team playing at FIU though, that stadium is fairly new, seats 20k and is only 14 miles from downtown Miami (something teams like Dallas, Colorado, LA, New England and Philadelphia all deal with).
Orlando is working hard on their own stadium deal these days and really it is only a matter of time before they get something locked up and a plan in place with MLS. They have a serious bid going on there in that city and have said time and time again how they hope to have an expansion bid announced this year.
The link above from The Scoring Third has an interesting quote from the league front office as well. Dan Courtemanche, VP of Communications for the league said that the league hopes to address their future expansion plans in the near future. I’m being told that target time frame for the league to address anything will come in July.
Like I mentioned in the opener, a double bid makes perfect sense for MLS to get back into the southeast. I’ve long stated that MLS can’t return to the southeast with just a single team. Two teams have to be a part of the plan in that region for MLS. There are a lot of logistics involved in anything for the league when it comes to expansion. Timing, planning, proper groups involved, etc., all go into this.
With 22 teams, the league will likely have to evaluate their conference alignments again not to mention their schedule. But this has always been a part of the plan. I know FIFA looks down on leagues that exceed 20 clubs but MLS has never been shy about doing things different.