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Expansion: Ottawa is still a contender


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According to this article, it appears that Ottawa is still in the running for an MLS spot for 2012 or 2013.

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Ottawa a contender for soccer, MLS commissioner says

League still keen on team for the capital

By Richard Starnes, The Ottawa CitizenMarch 23, 2009

OTTAWA — Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber stepped into the Ottawa stadium debate Monday by emphasizing that the capital remains an essential part of the league’s expansion plans.

Eugene Melnyk’s bid for one of two franchises for 2011 ended last week when Vancouver and Portland were introduced as the 17th and 18th teams.

But in an e-mail Monday from his New York office, Garber told Mayor Larry O’Brien the MLS has no intention of abandoning Ottawa as an expansion franchise.

He said the MLS is eager to “expand our Canadian footprint” now that Toronto FC and Vancouver are in the fold: “Every element of the Ottawa application, as well as the ongoing interaction with Mr. Melnyk’s group during the past year, has been nothing short of impressive.

“Add to this a vibrant soccer market in a city that holds a unique role as the nation’s capital and there is no question that the league remains interested in bringing an MLS expansion team to Ottawa.”

Garber, who copied federal Transport and Infrastructure Minister John Baird and Premier Dalton McGuinty with his message, said he was watching the city’s review of stadium proposals — Melnyk’s and another that would bring the CFL back to Lansdowne Park — and was eager to be included in finding a way for the Ottawa expansion application to move forward.

© Copyright © The Ottawa Citizen

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Sports/Ottawa+contender+soccer+commissioner+says/1420013/story.html

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As much as I would like to believe in all of this, I feel that:

-Melnyk is being too ambitious, assuming that our city can support an MLS team. It's not just going to one game. It's every game. It's supporters' groups. It's the soccer culture. I don't feel that Ottawa has that. None of my friends talk soccer. It's either hockey or NFL.

-Garber has been wooed by Melnyk's group. Just because Melnyk put together a nice powerpoint presentation and showed off some flashy concept designs doesn't mean our city should get an MLS team or a stadium for that matter. If no one is going to go to games in this city building a world-class stadium is a waste of time and money - for all of us.

I wish the city good luck in pursuing this but I remain doubtful. 2013 at the absolute earliest - if ever.

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What I'm curious to know is why Garber has a deep dislike for Joey Saputo and a major kissing ass of Eugene Melnyk...It appears that Garber treats Mylnyk as an old frat buddy whereby a backroom deal has already been settled...Again this is only a gut feeling (I could be wrong).

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quote:Originally posted by Luis_Rancagua

What I'm curious to know is why Garber has a deep dislike for Joey Saputo and a major kissing ass of Eugene Melnyk...It appears that Garber treats Mylnyk as an old frat buddy whereby a backroom deal has already been settled...Again this is only a gut feeling (I could be wrong).

I think Garber and Saputo should be able to iron-out their differences:

Garber March 19:

"Montreal is going to be a great soccer market and I think a potential MLS market," said Garber. "I think Joey Saputo has to decide whether he wants to be the best team in the USL or to come up to the MLS. We believe in him and his family . I'm sure at some point we'll get back together."

http://www2.canada.com/theprovince/news/sports/story.html?id=564591da-46c1-46b0-87c7-848dfb0aa210

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The problem with MLS Ottawa is that Melnyk and MLS have apparently set their minds on Kanata or forget it. That means no CFL, no Lansdowne (where many Ottawans would like to see a new stadium).

From the point of view of the city council,

1) Do they want to take a chance that pro soccer will be a success?

2) Do they want to say "no" to the CFL and its fans?

3) Do they want to contribute to futher urban sprawl by building a stadium in the west end?

With the limitation imposed by Melnyk and MLS it will be hard for the council to say "yes" to MLS.

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quote:Originally posted by ray

From the point of view of the city council,

1) Do they want to take a chance that pro soccer will be a success?

2) Do they want to say "no" to the CFL and its fans?

3) Do they want to contribute to futher urban sprawl by building a stadium in the west end?

With the limitation imposed by Melnyk and MLS it will be hard for the council to say "yes" to MLS.

I agree to an extent.

As much as I'd like to see MLS come to Ottawa and as much as I think it could</u> be a success, I think the smart move by city council would be to go with the Hunt group because they have a conditional franchise ready to go. All Melnyk has are assurances from Garber that they would be strongly considered for an MLS team. That still means that there would be a slight opportunity that Garber could go a different route down the road. You don't want to sink your money into something that might not be there down the road.

I don't trust The Don. For some reason, part of me believes that his recent comments about Ottawa are really there to put pressure on Montreal to get it's act together. I have nothing to base this on other than my own paranoia, however I just can't see 4 Canadian teams in MLS. If it comes down to Montreal or Ottawa, I would think that Montreal would have the advantage.

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quote:Originally posted by ottawaguy2009

As much as I would like to believe in all of this, I feel that:

-Melnyk is being too ambitious, assuming that our city can support an MLS team. It's not just going to one game. It's every game. It's supporters' groups. It's the soccer culture. I don't feel that Ottawa has that. None of my friends talk soccer. It's either hockey or NFL.

-Garber has been wooed by Melnyk's group. Just because Melnyk put together a nice powerpoint presentation and showed off some flashy concept designs doesn't mean our city should get an MLS team or a stadium for that matter. If no one is going to go to games in this city building a world-class stadium is a waste of time and money - for all of us.

I wish the city good luck in pursuing this but I remain doubtful. 2013 at the absolute earliest - if ever.

I'm originally from Ottawa (now living in Montreal) and although I do somewhat see your point, I think you might be surprised by the level of support for the game in Ottawa. I have plenty of friends who were going mental over Euro 2008 (along with a few who follow EPL religiously). As long as Melnyk and Leeder cater to the hardcore soccer fans (just like MLSE did with TFC) and don't try to make it out to be a "family-fun night", it should work. Melnyk might also be able to use the Sens to help promote the new club.

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Lansdowne park redeveloped by the Hunt group is the right move for Ottawa. You revitalize the 67's hockey team and you get CFL football. The new stadium would be able to accomodate soccer on artificial turf and a pro or semi-pro team would quickly be found. But, parking would be a problem and public busing along Bank St for crowds of over 10,000 would create local tension. This new Lansdowne Park could be a great small stadium, but anything over 20,000 would definitely be problematic. CFL and MLS crowds and stadium events like rock shows with demand for more than 5,000 parking spaces would not be welcome to the communities of the Glebe and Ottawa South. There is just not sufficient local parking for this scenario; local parking spaces have been severely reduced over the past 15 years.

This is why, when you look closely at the options, when you look at the age of the Civic Centre structure, when you look at the $$$$ that have been spent to service the Scotia Bank Place location with bus and car lanes added, when the parking spaces are already there, when public dollars are tight and when Melnyk has offered up financing, when you are the Ottawa city council and want to provide entertainment options, what do you do? The easiest thing. You thank Melnyk for his generous offer and you beg him to accomodate the 67's and CFL within his plans.

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I agree with many fans on this site...create an Ottawa USL1 team, get in on the Voyaguers Cup, stay at a spruced up Landsdown and go from there.

I still believe Garber's glow over Ottawa is designed to pressure Joey and Jeff Cooper to get their you-know-what together.

Here's a great example of Garber posturing:

Last Wednesday, during the Whitecaps announcement...he mentioned the remaining bid cities for 2011. He mentioned St Louis and Ottawa being contenders for 2011, despite the fact that Portland's announcement was already planned for Friday.

They want Montreal...

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quote:Originally posted by El Hombre

I agree to an extent.

As much as I'd like to see MLS come to Ottawa and as much as I think it could</u> be a success, I think the smart move by city council would be to go with the Hunt group because they have a conditional franchise ready to go. All Melnyk has are assurances from Garber that they would be strongly considered for an MLS team. That still means that there would be a slight opportunity that Garber could go a different route down the road. You don't want to sink your money into something that might not be there down the road.

I don't trust The Don. For some reason, part of me believes that his recent comments about Ottawa are really there to put pressure on Montreal to get it's act together. I have nothing to base this on other than my own paranoia, however I just can't see 4 Canadian teams in MLS. If it comes down to Montreal or Ottawa, I would think that Montreal would have the advantage.

I'd agree with you if Lansdowne Live were a solid project but it's not. It needs to be opened up to international bidders and they need to pick the best design for the city, not for sports. The mayer and councillors owe it to the taxpayers of this city. Lansdowne is one of those projects that will have a significant (hopefully positive) impact on the city for years to come.

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quote:Originally posted by Kurt-MTL

I'm originally from Ottawa (now living in Montreal) and although I do somewhat see your point, I think you might be surprised by the level of support for the game in Ottawa. I have plenty of friends who were going mental over Euro 2008 (along with a few who follow EPL religiously). As long as Melnyk and Leeder cater to the hardcore soccer fans (just like MLSE did with TFC) and don't try to make it out to be a "family-fun night", it should work. Melnyk might also be able to use the Sens to help promote the new club.

This has nothing to do with the MLS unfortunately. The guys on my spring league team who watch the EPL have no desire, whatsoever, to watch an MLS game or support an MLS club. European football is just that: European football. It's hard to get those purists to come watch our game on this continent.

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quote:Originally posted by Kurt-MTL

I'm originally from Ottawa (now living in Montreal) and although I do somewhat see your point, I think you might be surprised by the level of support for the game in Ottawa. I have plenty of friends who were going mental over Euro 2008 (along with a few who follow EPL religiously). As long as Melnyk and Leeder cater to the hardcore soccer fans (just like MLSE did with TFC) and don't try to make it out to be a "family-fun night", it should work. Melnyk might also be able to use the Sens to help promote the new club.

This has nothing to do with the MLS unfortunately. The guys on my spring league team who watch the EPL have no desire, whatsoever, to watch an MLS game or support an MLS club. European football is just that: European football. It's hard to get those purists to come watch our game on this continent.

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quote:Originally posted by ottawaguy2009

This has nothing to do with the MLS unfortunately. The guys on my spring league team who watch the EPL have no desire, whatsoever, to watch an MLS game or support an MLS club. European football is just that: European football. It's hard to get those purists to come watch our game on this continent.

If they like Europe so much, then I will suggest to them is pack your bags and get out of this country. But don't come here and freeload out of our social security system. :(
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quote:Originally posted by Luis_Rancagua

What I'm curious to know is why Garber has a deep dislike for Joey Saputo and a major kissing ass of Eugene Melnyk...It appears that Garber treats Mylnyk as an old frat buddy whereby a backroom deal has already been settled...Again this is only a gut feeling (I could be wrong).

I think that the focus of this question should not be Garber but rather how the other two individuals in question have treated him and the MLS administration. Professionalism and courtesy are rewarded. To give just the most obvious example compare the letters of congratulations Melnyk sent to Vancouver and Portland regarding the acceptance of their bids to the angry news conference held by Saputo blaming everyone but himself for the rejection of the bid.

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quote:Originally posted by Grizzly

I think that the focus of this question should not be Garber but rather how the other two individuals in question have treated him and the MLS administration. Professionalism and courtesy are rewarded. To give just the most obvious example compare the letters of congratulations Melnyk sent to Vancouver and Portland regarding the acceptance of their bids to the angry news conference held by Saputo blaming everyone but himself for the rejection of the bid.

I agree Grizzly that "professionalism and courtesy" are two important aspects of an MLS bid. However, simply because Melnyk is polite and courteous doesn't mean our city deserves an MLS squad.

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quote:This has nothing to do with the MLS unfortunately. The guys on my spring league team who watch the EPL have no desire, whatsoever, to watch an MLS game or support an MLS club. European football is just that: European football. It's hard to get those purists to come watch our game on this continent.

In contrast, the TFC has benefitted from the newer generation following EPL & other leagues on TV over the past 20 years - they wanted a live experience version of what they saw on TV while still supporting their favourite Euro team.

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Here's more news directly from Shane Ross from the Ottawa Sun. By the way, Ross was speaking to Garber yesteday at the live teleconference. This is where I remember his name. On another note, Ross is ignoring the most important point here that Garber has spoken directly to the Mayor of Ottawa. Garber has explained to the Mayor that the bid will be taking very seriously.

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MLS chief won't promise Ottawa will get team

March 25, 2009

By SHANE ROSS, SUN MEDIA

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber says Ottawa remains a "very, very, very viable candidate," but stopped short of guaranteeing a MLS franchise to Eugene Melnyk's group if it secures a stadium deal with the city.

"We have never made a contingent commitment to a city, nor has any other league, the NHL or any other of the major sports leagues," Garber said yesterday.

However, the CFL has granted a conditional franchise to the Lansdowne Live group, which has a competing proposal for an outdoor stadum project before city council to renovate Frank Clair Stadium.

"In the absence of a definitive franchise, it makes it awkward for the city," said Jeff Hunt, one of the proponents behind the Lansdowne Live proposal. "What would they do, award a 'conditional' building and hope for an MLS franchise at some undetermined point down the road, if ever?"

Garber believes the CFL granted Ottawa a conditional franchise because no other cities were bidding.

"If there were other cities bidding, they might not have been able to do that because it would just turn the whole process upside down," he said.

Vancouver and Portland were granted MLS franchises last week for the 2011 season. Vancouver, which is selling season tickets at a record MLS pace, was considered a shoo-in. Portland was bolstered by a multi-million plan approved by its city council to upgrade PGE Park for the MLS team and build a new stadium for its Triple-A baseball team.

The Portland bid, unlike Melnyk's Kanata stadium proposal, also guaranteed no financial risk to the City of Portland.

Even if Ottawa council had decided last month to choose Melnyk's proposal to build a stadium in Kanata, it may not have been enough to win an 2011 expansion team, Garber said.

"They would have been a very, very compelling candidate, and they remain ... a compelling candidate, but I can't look backward on that."

Garber expects further expansion in 2012.

"We believe Ottawa would be a great market, we believe (the Melnyk group's) site represents an opportunity for Ottawa to have a facility that would provide value for the citizens of Ottawa without taking valuable land downtown that is relatively constrained."

City council is scheduled to make a decision on the competing stadium and league proposals on April 22.

SHANE.ROSS@SUNMEDIA.CA

http://www.ottawasun.com/News/OttawaAndRegion/2009/03/25/8875126-sun.html

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Is shane ross the same journalist who called into Garbers teleconference tuesday? Becuase whoever it was seemed very pro CFL.

The title of this article is very misleading, it suggests(or at least gives readers the impression) that Ottawa should abandon the whole MLS thing because Garber isn't "promising" anything. This guy is a clown. Notice how he doesn't include Garber saying [and I paraphrase] "Should Ottawa city hall decide to go with MLS, AND MLS chooses not to expand there, Ottawa won't be left with this stadium in Kanada, due to the long process it takes to actually start bulding a stadium".

In other words, it's not like they will get to start bulding once city hall approves the stadium anyways.

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quote:Originally posted by Obinna

Is shane ross the same journalist who called into Garbers teleconference tuesday? Becuase whoever it was seemed very pro CFL.

The title of this article is very misleading, it suggests(or at least gives readers the impression) that Ottawa should abandon the whole MLS thing because Garber isn't "promising" anything. This guy is a clown. Notice how he doesn't include Garber saying [and I paraphrase] "Should Ottawa city hall decide to go with MLS, AND MLS chooses not to expand there, Ottawa won't be left with this stadium in Kanada, due to the long process it takes to actually start bulding a stadium".

In other words, it's not like they will get to start bulding once city hall approves the stadium anyways.

Yes!!! It's the same Shane Ross that was speaking to Don Garber on the Teleconference. Other than that, Ross ignores the most important point here that Garber has spoken directly to the Mayor of Ottawa. In fact, Ross does not mention Garber reassurances to the Mayor that the bid will be taking very seriously.
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quote:Originally posted by Obinna

^Yeah he makes me sick. I guess he's trying to shape the public's perception of the situation in a way that suits the CFL (or mabye he's just anti soccer).

....John TV where are you at?

Obinna, here's my take. It appears that the Ottawa Sun is pro CFL, whereas the other news paper (the Ottawa Citizen) seems to be more sympathetic to the MLS cause.
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