The buzz this week in MLS expansion talk has been around some comments made by MLS Commissioner Don Garber.
Speaking in Toronto Commissioner Garber said 3 of the 4 prospective expansion franchises were “already spoken for.”
It’s no surprise that Orlando would be one of the expansion teams. I’m almost surprised they’re not included up on the MLSsoccer.com site navigation already.
SI.com reported, “Orlando City, a USL Pro (third tier) club that claimed its second championship in three years on Saturday before nearly 21,000 fans at the Citrus Bowl, appears destined for MLS. Assuming an October vote on using an existing tourism tax to fund the final quarter of the club’s $80 million downtown stadium project goes well, MLS should be ready to announce Orlando’s addition by the end of the year.
Miami will most likely be the second expansion team. I believe that MLS is still wary of Miami as a MLS market after the Fusion fiasco during MLS 1.0. A strong ownership group including David Beckham and businessman Marcelo Claure, who owns Bolivian team Club Bolivar, on top of a new stadium should sway the powers that be to try the market again. NFL Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross has said he also wants to bring a MLS club to Miami – but Beckham and Ross are not working together which could complicate things a bit.
Atlanta’s expansion efforts have been in the news today. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Falcons owner Arthur Blank is in significant discussions with Major League Soccer about bringing an expansion franchise to the city. Blank, who’s also the co-founder of The Home Depot, has been interested in MLS for some time. He was one of seven potential owners who bid for an expansion team back in 2008-09, but Atlanta lost out to Portland and Vancouver.
Of course, the Don Garber quote about 3 of the 4 teams already being chosen seems to be taken out of context according to MLS Analyst a.k.a. Matthew Doyle on Reddit.
“What he said is IF they wanted to expand all 4 teams next year, they’d already have 3 of them spoken for. But he also said… So we need to evaluate which they best markets are over the next few years. Nothing is imminent.”
But what does this mean for Minnesota? Does that buy Minnesota a little more time? If 3 of the 4 teams are all but spoken for, that means the Twin Cities are in a race for the final expansion spot with cities like Sacramento, Las Vegas, St. Louis, Detroit, and San Antonio. It will be a race to the finish.
It’s what we don’t know that is interesting. There seems to be a lot going on behind the scenes. WVHooligan.com wrote My sources have told me that there are a couple cities that are courting MLS heavily at the moment behind the scenes. In no particular order they are Minneapolis, Sacramento, San Antonio, and Atlanta.
Minneapolis is heavily courting MLS behind the scenes?
Who is doing the courting?
Dr. Bill McGuire, owner of Minnesota United FC, has said “That’s not something (MLS expansion) we spend a lot of energy about. Our attention is really on professional soccer without worrying too much right now about what league it is played in.”
Nick Rogers, president of Minnesota United FC, “recently tweeted playing in one league & making public overtures to another is tacky, but I’ve never ruled anything out.”
Behind the scenes are they more active in MLS expansion discussions then we are led to believe?
Zygi Wilf has said that he wants to have a MLS team for the new stadium however he is currently dealing with some other problems at the moment. The Vikings have recently said that they won’t fully explore MLS until a year or two down the road when they start settling into their new stadium.
That doesn’t sound like they are heavily courting MLS right now.
So who is championing MLS to Minnesota behind the scenes? Is it one of the above groups? Could there be a 3rd party that hasn’t been mentioned in the media yet?
Is Minnesota going to miss out on MLS? Even without knowing all the details of what’s going on behind the scenes, I wouldn’t bet against us yet.