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News article: Canadian MLS bids


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This article has amazing information about the Canadian bids who contending for MLS spots.


Expansion decisions could help take MLS to next level

By Pat Martin, MLS Editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Friday, September 19, 2008

New York, NY (Sports Network) - The decisions made by Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber and the higher-ups in the league office in coming months are going to greatly affect the progress of the United States' top-flight soccer league.

Namely, which markets in which to expand, and how to go about following through with the slow and steady growth plan that has been in effect since the league's inception in 1996.

With the application deadline less than a month away for ownership groups and markets that are interested in being considered for the next round of expansion, things are starting to heat up at the league office in New York.

MLS announced in July that it intends to add two new clubs by 2011, and with Seattle and Philadelphia being added in 2009 and 2010, respectively, the two new teams will bring the league, which is currently at 14 teams, to 18.

That's a lot of work to be done over the next three years.

While no official applications have been submitted yet, Garber and his staff have been working with a number of groups to ensure that everything is in place by the Oct. 15 deadline.

"No one has submitted [expansion applications] yet, and I don't expect that they will prior to the deadline, or slightly before," Garber said in a phone interview with SportsNetwork.com. "We are working with a number of potential applicants so that we aren't just looking at a number of submissions but insuring those who do submit an application have a good chance of success should their application be approved.

"Many of them have come in and are working through different stadium scenarios, market plans and timing of team launches and a wide variety of other things that would affect their position in this process. There's a tremendous amount of interest from great owners in a variety of different markets, and that is just a positive thing for everybody who cares about the sport."

The markets that are currently being considered include Miami, Montreal, a second team in the New York area, Ottawa, St. Louis and Vancouver, among others. Portland and Las Vegas have also been mentioned, but the aforementioned markets appear to be the leading contenders, although Garber stated there were no front-runners at this point.

Miami, which competed in MLS from 1998-2001, was part of a two-team contraction in 2001 that shut down both Florida franchises and brought the league down to 10 teams. Now it appears the Sunshine State is in the running for another chance at an MLS club.

"Miami has resurfaced, there is a group that is interested in working very closely with a foreign club, and we have resurrected some of our discussions with various stadium sites down there," Garber said.

Barcelona President Joan Laporta reportedly traveled to Miami to meet with MLS officials and local businessmen recently, with the main objective being discussions geared toward creating a sister club to the Spanish La Liga giants.

Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver are three Canadian markets that are in the running to join Toronto, which is currently the only MLS club that isn't located in the USA. Three National Hockey League owners spearhead the groups of owners interested in adding MLS franchises to their portfolios.

Liverpool owner George Gillet has apparently joined forces with the Saputo family, which owns United Soccer League (USL) club the Montreal Impact, in an effort to join the league. Gillet also owns the NHL's Montreal Canadians.

Eugene Melnyk, owner of the NHL's Ottawa Senators, made an announcement Tuesday that he plans to seriously pursue bringing a MLS franchise to his area.

"Ottawa made an announcement [Tuesday], and that is very positive," Garber said. "We have met with that group and believe that they are going to put together a terrific plan, one that so far we have been very impressed with, in the time we have spent with Eugene Melnyk and his group."

And Francesco Aquilini, owner of the NHL's Vancouver Canucks, is reportedly interested in investing in a MLS club with USL's Vancouver Whitecaps owner Greg Kerfoot and NBA player Steve Nash.

For any of those three markets to make sense, however, they have to make cents.

"Clearly with Canada we've got to ensure that we can create a Canadian business with national television partners and national sponsors and broad municipal, political and corporate support," Garber said. "We know that we can create the success locally that exists in Toronto, but we need to ensure that are able to transcend simple fan-following into a viable business.

"We are spending time working on that and ensuring that we can go to market with a new approach, which is not just 11 or 13 MLS teams and one Canadian team, but potentially more American teams but even more Canadian teams. That's something we have been working on for the last number of months."

A second franchise in New York is the most intriguing option. MLB's New York Mets are reportedly looking into purchasing a MLS club and could build a soccer-specific stadium near its new $600 million baseball stadium in Queens, N.Y., which is set to open next year.

"The Mets are looking at a stadium adjacent to the new Citi Field," Garber said. "It is a soccer-specific stadium that would be developed in the area in and around the new Citi Field."

While some argue that a second New York team wouldn't survive because of the attendance woes experienced by the current team, the New York Red Bulls, who are averaging under 16,000 per game this season in cavernous Giants Stadium, Garber brought up some interesting points.

"I don't think anybody ever expected from 1996 through today that the Red Bulls and the MetroStars before that would be selling out a 77,000 seat stadium," Garber said. "That was never the goal of that team. The question here really is what do we need to do to be sure that the Red Bulls can be more successful tomorrow than they have been in the past.

"Part of that hinges on that stadium [Red Bull Arena] in Harrison [N.J.] getting built and opening in 2009. We are convinced that they will have a much stronger fanbase once they are out of Giants Stadium, which as you know, hasn't really even been a facility that has worked well for the [NFL's] Giants or Jets.

"That coupled with the fact that we believe the rivalry with a team in the area will create some of that passion that exists in L.A. with Chivas USA and the Galaxy and the rivalries that sort of drive the fan support of teams throughout London and Milan and Rome and Mexico City. We think one of the things that will really take the sport to a much higher level in the metropolitan area would be two MLS teams."

MLS' Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications Dan Courtemanche also stated that a couple of years ago, the then MetroStars had a fan survey and nearly 85 percent of their fans came from New Jersey. So if there were two New York teams, basically one could be made up of mostly New York residents and the other would be mostly New Jersey residents, possibly creating the type of rivalry that Garber alluded to.

St. Louis was in the running for a franchise when Philadelphia was awarded a team at the beginning of this year and appeared to be a leading contender for the next round of expansion, but now appears to be losing steam despite a strong soccer history and tradition in the area.

Jeff Cooper, chairman of St. Louis Soccer United, a group that leads the effort to bring a club to that region, seems to be backing off because of the price tag involved with dealing with MLS. The franchise fee will be a minimum of $40 million, and because of the competition of other markets, could be closer to $50 million.

These words by Garber should give St. Louis fans some hope though.

"Certainly the history of support for the sport is key and we continue to want to be in places where we know soccer can be successful," he said. "So you need more than a great owner and a stadium, you need to know that you are going to be able to have fans come out and passionately support the team."

Basically, Garber and the league have some tough decisions ahead of them. For the sake of the growing league and soccer fans in this country, lets hope they make the right ones.


2008 Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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quote:Originally posted by Johnnie Monster

Assuming the bit about Aquilini is accurate, it sounds like he's shelved his own MLS bid and hopped aboard Kerfoot's.

If that's the case, this spells trouble for the Vancouver organization led by Kerfoot. Other than that, I'm pretty convinced that the St. Louis bid is all but finished...
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quote:Originally posted by Luis_Rancagua

If that's the case, this spells trouble for the Vancouver organization led by Kerfoot. Other than that, I'm pretty convinced that the St. Louis bid is all but finished...

No Louis(!), the story is saying that Aquilini iw working with Kerfoot (and Nash). If this is true, than the Kerfoot bid looks even more promising.


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For me I would put money on Montreal and Ottawa as the options that Garber would LIKE to go with. But he knows there would be an outcry if two Canadian teams came in at the same time in close proximity that would be weird. So I would guess Montreal due to their fan base, success, SSS and money it makes sense and they have been rumoured for the longest out of any of those teams. Ottawa probably in 2013 Garber loves Melnyk and would put him in 2011 if he could I think. The yank team would probably be New York I think although it should be Portland. New York isn't going to be big I don't think baseball and football dominate that city.

Best case for Canadian footy would be Ottawa being admitted because that would give us 4 teams with Vancouver and Montreal still going.

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I definitely see the new New York side coming, the article seemed to focus quite a bit on the creation of rivalries to keep suffering clubs (Red Bull New York) from tanking any further. With Gillette jumping on board in Montreal, I definitely see the Impact joining along with New York. 2011 will see Montreal and New York. 2012, assuming they go back to only 1 new franchise, will be either Ottawa or Vancouver, as I think they are going to keep on the Canadian train. It will probably be Ottawa due to the promise of the stadium and it seems MLS loves Melnyk. 2013 will be possibly Miami or Vancouver, but I'd expect they'd bring in another US based club.

Speculation, but if I had it my way, it'd be Montreal and Vancouver for sure in 2011, then Ottawa in 2012.

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  • 2 weeks later...

^ Great thought post / thought.

This is the most plausible and potentially interesting scenario... the Las Vegas group is buying a part of the Columbus Crew with no plans to move the franchise but???? Are more purchases, re-locations or shuffling of the decks possible and in this scenario would movement / purchase for a couple of the moribund franchises to the "expansion" cities make more sense? Your still increasing the league by a set number but possibly moving one or two franchises to a new market like Ottawa. The league certainly seems to be gravitating north with expansion (obviously Miami/Vegas not so much)... so this certainly raises some interesting ideas...

The hiccup in the theory of course is I don't believe there are any franchises left that don't have plans or actual construction underway of soccer specific stadiums.

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quote:Originally posted by Tuscan

I definitely see the new New York side coming, the article seemed to focus quite a bit on the creation of rivalries to keep suffering clubs (Red Bull New York) from tanking any further.

See now, that's one point I've always been skeptical of. If no one in New York cares about the Red Bulls, why would they suddenly care about another team? The NY-NY rivalries work in baseball, hockey and football because there was one team with a long-established history and fanbase (Yankees, Rangers, Giants) that was being challenged by a plucky upstart (Mets, Islanders, Jets). The Red Bulls don't have an established history or fanbase, so why would anyone in New York care about there being a newer, younger franchise? It's like saying putting a second NHL team in Nashville will help the Predators because it will create a rivalry.

This isn't an attack on you, Tuscan, I just think putting another team in NY right now would be a bad move.

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This was a strong case put together by MLSR for NY2's inclusion and I pretty much agree with every word.

quote:To understand why a "2nd" team in the New York Metro area makes sense you must understand the five points below:

1. New York City is Different. New York City is an urban, densely populated, mostly car less city. In other words many New Yorkers who live in NYC proper DO NOT OWN A CAR OR DRIVE. This is key to understanding why asking them to make their way to New Jersey is a non-starter. Most New Yorkers thinking of New Jersey as "far". Naming the team that Red Bull bought, New York does not make it so, for that very reason. They might as well be playing in Harrisburg, PA, or on the Moon for that matter. They'd be just as irrelevant as they are now to most of the CITY of New York. This is why RBNY is mostly ignored by the sporting press and off the radar for most fans of the sport in New York City.

2. The Original Plan. Two teams in the New York area was in the original plan for MLS, just as Philadelphia and St Louis was. This explains why the Commissioner, Don Garber has said the same with regards to New York "2" as he has with Philadelphia and St Louis: "It's not a matter of if, but a matter of when." Some see NY2 as Don Garber's pet project, but in reality the plans for a team and derby rival to MetroStars/RedBulls was laid out before a ball was ever kicked.

3. Identity. Because of point #1, the bulk of the people a team in New York City proper would draw from would never have identified with Red Bull New York. The reason as was mentioned above, is cultural. New York is a cosmopolitan, urban, get on the subway/take a train, city. Put a team on the 7 line and you will need to build a 30,000 seat stadium for it. Put it in New Jersey and well.....you see the result. New Yorkers will never identify with something which reeks of New Jersey from the location down to the way the team has historically been promoted as suburban family fun.

4. Economics/Population Density. New York City has been called by Don Garber, MLS's largest untapped market. Why? See point #3 above. With such a large market to draw from MLS would be foolish to pass it up in favor of some other expansion candidates. We have seen very little in the way of New York area soccer fans interested in MLS BECAUSE MLS is not in New York City yet, not the reverse. The same could have been said about Toronto prior to MLS coming. You saw an excellent and vocally pro-USA crowd at the USA vs Argentina match at Giants Stadium but those same people who made up the nearly 80,000 who attended that match either do not know about Red Bull New York or care about Red Bull New York for the simple face that its not in New York. Does this sound small or provincial to you? Perhaps it does, until you realize just how densely packed the city is. At nearly 19 million people New York City to put this in perspective, if New York City were a country in Europe and if it qualified in Euro2008 would be the 7th most populous country in the tournament with a population greater than that of Holland. That's a lot of people. A lot of people with a lot of dollars who currently don't care about MLS. For this reason, contrary to the conventional wisdom of many who can not see past the end of their nose, the 2nd team in the New York Metro area would not "split Red Bull NY's" fanbase. It would likely actually add to their attendance during derby matches with the New York City based team. Likewise, in a derby people would be forced to chose a side and we suspect many New Jersey fans of the sport would throw in their lot with Red Bull.

5. The Borough Boys. Just as Philadelphia and the constant talk about it being in MLS for over a decade eventually spawned a grassroots group of rowdies to drum up support in every corner of the city, then nation, then globe, the constant talk of NY2 has spawned a similar band of brothers known as the Borough Boys. They are in the mold of Philadelphia's Sons Of Ben in that they are fan advocates for MLS in their city and will in the days ahead be increasing their visibility to put the focus on the fact that New York City needs MLS and MLS needs New York City to be truly the league many imagine it to become in the next decade. MLS has the road map, New York City has the interest and money to support the team, the Borough Boys are a catalyst.

We'd hope that the next time the tired arguments against the inevitable are brought up you'd refer to the text above.

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^ Well, those seem like reasonable arguments. I guess some part of me wants to pretend that NYC2 won't happen, because new franchises in Montreal, Vancouver and/or Ottawa would do much to help the sport in this country. But yeah, as your quoted text says, I guess I'm just dredging up "tired arguments against the inevitable".

Edit - "new" as in, "new to MLS", in the potential case of the Impact/Whitecaps.

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