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San Jose Earthquakes (MLS) up for sale


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MLS looks to gain new investors

August 2, 2003

By Jamie Trecker SportsTicker Contributing Editor

NEW YORK (Ticker) - Major League Soccer is on the verge of selling two teams and gaining much-needed new investment, the league announced.

MLS commissioner Don Garber revealed earlier Saturday that the league is in "advanced negotiations" with Mexican film producer and soccer team owner Jorge Vergara to purchase a franchise, believed to be the San Jose Earthquakes.

League sources confirmed the deal was on and could be formally completed in the next week. It would be the first foreign investment in the league.

Vergara is the owner of Guadalajara Chivas, which lost to the MLS All-Stars in Saturday's midseason gala at Carson, California. He is known for producing "Y Tu Mama Tambien," Mexico's biggest cinematic hit in recent years.

However, Vergara is an unusual choice as a candidate for an infusion of capital as his club is famed for using only Mexican players. The assumption has been that he is looking at an MLS club for a feeder system.

"We're going to be a part of the MLS, a permanent part, and a champion," Vergara said in a statement.

Also, AEG Entertainment, which owns the San Jose and Colorado teams, is in high-level discussions regarding the sale of the Denver-based team to Stan Kroenke.

Kroenke owns Kroenke Sports Enterprises, which controls the Pepsi Center, the NHL's Colorado Avalanche and the NBA's Denver Nuggets.

AEG representatives were not immediately available for comment.

Such sales would reduce AEG's stake in the 10-team MLS from five teams to three, leaving the company in control of teams in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Updated on Saturday, Aug 2, 2003 6:36 pm EDT

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Here's the latest rumour from MSL. I must indicate this information is coming straight from a fellow that carries the nick-name: "FlashMan." This guy normally places posts at BigSoccer.com.

"...Bergin states that Denver guy has signed to take over the Rapids and SJ has been sold... Wants to build a SSS. Signed to take over the team this morning.

Also said San Jose has a new owner. Don't know who it is. None of the current names (i.e., Chivas guy).

AEG not taking the money; goes to league.

Chris is announcing this on soccerfanaticsradio show. Don't know if a link is up yet.

Mentioned the Rapids deal won't be announced "officially" for two weeks. Didnt' say why.

First new investment since 1998. According to Chris, many GMs saying it's even more important than new SSS. New investment crucial.

Take it for what it's worth..."

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Smith expecting potential MLS expansion in 2004

Chris Bergin (ussocceruk.com) - 4 Aug 2003 12:33


COLUMBUS CREW president and general manager Jim Smith noted his

expectation that MLS could expand as soon as next season, while adding

new investors can prelude soccer-specific stadium goals.

Expansion has risen to the top of MLS' priority list, as the US top

flight moves into top gear in its drive to become a 20-team First

Division league.

"I don't think there is any question that, in order for our League to

continue to get better and succeed on an international level, we have to

get more teams in it," said Smith.

"So expansion is a very good thing, and this is a good signal for where

our League is going to be going over the next three to five years."

For over a year, MLS has been mulling over the idea of expanding by two

teams in 2005, with two more added, exponentially, as the League matures.

However, commissioner Don Garber surprised everyone by going on record

this weekend by saying the League could expand by two teams as early as

next season, with sources claim the teams to be Houston and San Diego.

That came about after Chivas owner Jorge Vergara (pictured) held talks

with Garber over the weekend to iron out a deal where he would

be allowed to build his own team in San Diego - to be called Chivas USA

- in return for continuing his commitment to take a 50 percent role in

Houston's new team.

Smith, however, claims he has only heard of one team possibly entering

MLS next season as an expansion franchise, which leaves the door wide

open on which city will gain that team.

Sources claim that city will come from one of three candidates for the

Chivas team; San Diego, and the two Texan cities of San Antonio and


"I don't think it's going to be two teams in 2004," added Smith. "I

haven't heard of a second team in 2004, I've only heard about one

potential for 2004."

With expansion candidates Cleveland and Edmond - Oklahoma City - both

working on their bids which include soccer-specific stadiums, Vergara's

teams would play in large stadiums already in existence, such as current

NFL venues Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, and Reliant Stadium in Houston.

Smith, whose team play in the first-to-be-built soccer-specific venue,

Crew Stadium, is not against the idea of the League expanding into

70,000 capacity venues, despite the goal of MLS to play all of its teams

in venues designed around Columbus' template.

"It all depends on how the stadium is configured," Smith noted. "If you

can put 25,000 to 28,000 in the lower bowl, just not use the upper bowl

and keep all the fans together, (it will) create a great atmosphere.

"In Houston's case, having that roof that can be closed will lend to the

atmosphere, which is the biggest detriment playing in these large

facilities is that lack of atmosphere.

"I think you can create that atmosphere in Houston for sure."

Smith also added that new investors in the League is a major factor for

MLS to strive for, with the issue of soccer-specific venues a matter

than can come in progression after a solid footing is achieved in a new

market, if needs be.

"I don't think they are mutually exclusive," added Smith on the question

of whether the League's goal is for new investors, over the need for new

stadiums. "I think both have to happen.

"In certain markets you need stadiums, and in certain markets you can

make do without a stadium because you are getting a really good quality


"So the ideal if you want to do it, is a new market with a brand new

stadium, but I don't think we can be all that picky from an expansion

standpoint, I think we need quality investors in our League and build

the stadiums thereafter."

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Great stuff from Soccer America MLS Confidential:

1. According to several sources, AEG is negotiating a partnership by which it would share the funding and operations of the San Jose Earthquakes with Club America, which is owned by the television network Televisa.

2. Rumors of the Quakes moving to another city have been circulating, but the short-term plan reportedly is to keep the team in San Jose.

3. If as planned, Vergara's team comes into MLS next season, Commissioner Don Garber said the league will play with 11 teams in 2004. "We tried to get him to hold off until 2005," said Garber, "but he's ready to go, so if we have to play with 11 teams in 2004, we will."

4. San Diego, San Antonio and Houston are officially still in the running and Vergara plans on visiting each city in the near future. But a source said a deal to place the team in San Diego is all but done.

5. Chivas won't be able to use its MLS entry as a reserve team stocked with Mexican players. It must adhere to league restrictions on foreign players.

It's worth noting that Televisa owns a stake in the Univision nets in the US (which also include Galavision and TeleFutura). If this deal goes through, then maybe we'll see MLS back on one of those nets.

As an interesting sidenote, Bill Gates (through various entities) controls about 7% of Grupo Televisa S.A.

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There have been a lot of interesting developments about interests from various Mexican groups who want to invest in MLS. This is a very good thing because it will go a long way to help bring together the US' fractured soccer community. Also it could possibly bring about an excellent tv deal for MLS. I know it's technically against the rules, but I wonder if we'll eventually see MLS and MFL merge into a 2 tier league with promotion/relegation.

"Try not, do. Do or do not. There is no try" - Yoda

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