- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On December 4, 2013
- 2 Comments
- 2013 MLS Season, Don Garber, Features
Yesterday’s State of the League Address by MLS Commissioner Don Garber was an interesting one at the very least. From the long address to the media to the expansion talk and finally to some weird questions asked, the discussion brought up several interesting points worth noting.
Here are a few points that I took away from the entire discussion.
Sometimes the league is making up rules on the fly. The best question asked by anyone was a fan from Portland. This fan asked about how come the league isn’t more transparent about their allocation and roster rules to fans. Thankfully Garber was open and honest to this question as I’ve ever really seen him. To paraphrase him a bit, he said the league sometimes has to make up rules on the fly, after all, they are only a 18-year old league. Some of the original rules in place set back in the mid-90s don’t apply to how Designated Players come into the league and what not. As the league’s owners invest more money into the game, things have to change. Garber said that he wished the league had handled the Clint Dempsey signing a little better. He also stated that the league needs more ‘capologists’ to help with navigating the salary cap.
Winter schedules just won’t work…at least not yet. Another big point was about scheduling. MLS actually released their season schedule for next year months earlier than in pervious years. That was certainly a win for everyone even though the schedule itself could be drastically improved for TV watching purposes. Still, the main point when asked about shifting the schedule was that going to a European calendar will not only take some time but some serious thought. Garber said that the league just cannot trade games in May and June for games in January and February. It just can’t happen. You can’t play games in those winter months in pretty much the majority of the league, that even includes usually warm places like Dallas and Houston.
Game time temperature this weekend in Kansas City for the MLS Cup final are expected to be between 20 and 30 degrees. Dallas will be just as cold too with snow in the forecast. The March-to-November calendar might not align with the majority of the rest of the world, but it does make sense on a continent with such a wide-ranging climate.
Flex-scheduling not likely. Another point on scheduling had to do with TV scheduling. Garber was asked about the possibilities of allowing the TV scheduling to include a flex scheduling so the best match-ups appear on national TV at the right time for fans to view it. Garber said that logistically that flex scheduling is a nightmare to do at this point. He did however say that they are looking to do a final week schedule where all the games kickoff at the same time.
What we already knew on expansion. Miami and Atlanta are next in line, the order is really up in the air on those two however. After that it is anyone’s game between St. Louis, Minneapolis, and San Antonio. Garber also threw out Austin for some reason but didn’t bring up Sacramento or any other hopeful. The big thing on any of the expansion hopefuls, which is something I’ve also been saying for ages now is that it starts with ownership (with deep pockets) and from there goes to a good stadium location. Garber basically said that a good owner plus a downtown stadium that is privately financed is the ticket into the league. I may dive further into that soon.
$20 million invested in the academies each year. At first, that number seemed way low to me. Only $20 million but the more I thought about that, the more it seemed about right. But when looking at clubs overseas, most spend a few million at the very least on their academy systems. That means MLS needs to invest more per club in the academy system. Just think what each club could do if MLS invested the expansion fee from NYCFC ($100m) towards the academies.