MLS Expansion

The online soccer community is abuzz with recent statements from Commissioner Garber (courtesy of Steve Davis), that MLS has raised its expansion fee for a 20th team to $100 million for the New York market.   According to Davis’ article, the league remains focused on New York for team 20, but has not set a timetable for that expansion.  New York II has long been a stated goal of league leadership as has the sentiment of slow growth past team 20.  MLS has already expanded to the most likely new markets over the last few years, adding teams in Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, Philly and Montreal.   If team 20 is not New York, where?

For years, St. Louis was considered  front runner for a team.  St. Louis has a long and proud soccer history.  For years, Jeffrey Cooper was the centerpiece of a St. Louis bid.  Despite an in place stadium deal, the League repeatedly expressed worries about Cooper’s finances and the Gateway City has been left behind through multiple rounds of expansion.  The league’s concern seems well placed.  Cooper has since played with various roles in the WPS and the NASL without much success. For more on Cooper’s problems, click here.

Miami has long been considered a possible destination for Major League Soccer, but those talks have died down in recent years.  Recall that Barcelona was rumored to have interest in a Miami based MLS franchise.  The Spanish powerhouse combined with Marcelo Claure and Florida International University to  submit a bid to bring MLS back to South Florida.  As MLS fans well know, the Miami Fusion entered the League as an expansion team in 1998 and were contracted just four years later.  That background, combined with South Florida’s rather weak history of supporting its teams (Florida Marlins anyone?), has lead many to scoff at any move back to the Miami area.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank has long been rumored as a possible expansion owner and there has been discussion about elevating Rochester or Carolina to MLS.  Some have also raised Hartford, Birmingham, Las Vegas as other possibilities, but the league remains focused on New York.