Welcome to the Party Montreal

The big story in MLS is the arrival of Montreal as the league’s 19th franchise. Although the announcement is scheduled for Friday afternoon, multiple sources are reporting the news.   The Impact are scheduled to start play in 2012 and will join Toronto and Vancouver as Canadian franchises.  Long rumored, the move to Montreal immediately provides MLS with a promising franchise and a fervent fan base.  The Impact regularly attract 10k as a second division club suggesting that numbers closer to 20k are possible in MLS.

Montreal has shown an ability to support soccer (remember that big Canada Cup crowd) and is close to securing a 21k soccer specific stadium. A third Canadian team would create a nice rivalry and Saputo is solid potential owner.  However, with Vancouver and Portland right around the corner, there is a question whether the League can handle another franchise so quickly.  The dilution of the talent pool is a big concern.  That said, Montreal would be a great venue for MLS. MLS will now have a huge footprint in Canada and provide a home team for an enormous swath of the Canadian population (big for TV dollars).

The plan is to expand the current 13k stadium to a capacity of about 21k for MLS matches.  Two years should be plenty of time for such an expansion. The Impact already have games scheduled against AC Milan and Fiorentina this Summer at Olympic Stadium and the looming entrance to MLS should provide extra eyeballs on those matches as the Montreal crowds gear up for first division football.

The Montreal move is a no-brainer.  There is no city in the US or Canada more likely to avidly support soccer than Montreal.  The big question is whether another city will join Montreal in 2012 or whether the league will wait for the perfect opportunity.

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