- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On March 10, 2015
- 5 Comments
One thing I get the pleasure of having on what feels like a fairly regular basis these days is talks about MLS expansion. I know I write a ton about it on this space but it is always nice talking to people who don’t normally cover the league about it. It has been a while since I have gone through some of the hopefuls in the expansion game to weigh their chances and to discuss what is going on with them as well.
The time frame
The one thing we do know, is that MLS will announce something within the next 45-60 days. Before Don Garber made that announcement on ESPN2 this past weekend in Orlando, I had been told that we’d know something by the middle of May, which goes in with this time frame. Once again, Garber mentioned the usual suspects in Sacramento, San Antonio, and St. Louis. No mention of Minnesota but there have been talks that representatives from that area were in Orlando over the weekend.
Things have seemed to quiet down on their front over the last month and a half. Thankfully Minnesota United owner Bill McGuire said some things at a town hall meeting that basically stated that they intend on being in MLS.
“What we’re trying to do, and as you know we are pretty quiet about this, is fairly straightforward. We’re trying to do something that will bring soccer to the community at an increasingly higher professional level and make your bus trips from the Nomad (a soccer bar located just East of Downtown Minneapolis) shorter.”
The recent ownership news that the NFL’s 49ers are getting involved, along with the NBA’s Kings and given the local government’s support really states the eagerness that this market has to go to MLS in the same manner that Orlando did. The market wants a MLS team and given how they’re getting 20,000 people for a preseason game, tells you the ownership means business.
The momentum in this market has begun to pick up in a hurry since 2015 kicked off. Between the sellout for the US-Mexico game in April to recent comments from the Scorpions owners about their intentions, this market is very eager to prove that they can handle a MLS team.
Recently I’ve had a couple honest chats with folks around the league about Miami and those talks sound very similar to some comments that were made in an article in The Guardian about the expansion hopes of David Beckham and Miami.
“The next choice has to happen,” added the source. “There won’t be a fourth option. There won’t be another chance.”
I do urge you to read the rest of the article but this one line that I pulled out is rather telling. It is the same thing I’ve been told for about two months now with regards to Miami. The city wants a team there but they also don’t want to fork over the land and the space to build a stadium where the league wants them to. That is the underlying problem with this entire deal and until that gets sorted out, there won’t be a team in Miami.
How long will MLS continue to wait on Miami? One source told me recently that they’ll give Beckham and his group until MLS Cup this year. While that seems like a long time, they feel if it goes close to two years without a stadium project lined up that they did enough and they’ll move on, especially considering the fact that any other expansion bid will get them far more than the $25 million tag that Beckham was able to secure with his original MLS contract.
Honestly, I see MLS securing one team in the next two months while waiting on Miami. It is very possible that by the league’s summer All-Star game that they could announce a second expansion team as well to basically fill in the #24 spot that Miami would take. Between the strong market interests and the money that will come in with new investors, I just don’t see how MLS passes up a couple of these markets right now. Miami may very well end up being #25 or even #26 if the league is patient with that market, but I do wonder how long they’ll actually wait there.