All is quiet on the expansion front with no new team set to join the league in 2013. Nevertheless, there are a number of potential expansion candidates waiting in the wings. Last week, the Minnesota legislature voted in a stadium bill to keep the Vikings in Minnesota. The stadium project is expected to cost almost a billion dollars. Although it didn’t receive much attention outside soccer circles, the possibility of a soccer tenant at the new facility was the subject of much debate during negotiations for the bill. Multiple versions of a clause that provided for free rent or other opportunities were part of the discussion. For more on that provision, click here. The commitment of Vikings ownership to an MLS franchise is an open question, but if the Footiebusiness poll from last September is an indicator, there is plenty of fan interest!
The leading candidate has long been New York. The Commissioner has made no secret that New York2 is the target and the league is actively searching for an appropriate stadium site. An urban stadium in New York would seem to be an automatic draw in its own right, although it is tough to fully agree that the presence of a second franchise in the Big Apple region will invigorate the Red Bulls. The league also still needs an ownership group before the possibility of a franchise could be taken seriously.
One other option has always been a return to South Florida. The Miami area should be a strong supporter of soccer despite the league’s prior failure in that market. Count me among the unconvinced. The “beloved” Miami Dolphins struggle to sell out their games, the Panthers are barely a blip on the Miami scene and Marlins are an annual embarrassment (although the new stadium might change that). Why would MLS be any different? The idea of 9,000 fans snoozing through Sunday afternoon game in 110 degree Miami August heat, is a nightmare scenario for supporters of the League.