As Major League Soccer gets ready to open the season, we thought it would be worth taking a quick look at a number of business topics overhanging MLS that are bigger than just one season. We’ll start with expansion.
When this blog started, expansion was probably the biggest business story looming over the league. After adding Toronto, San Jose rejoined the league in 2008 starting a wave of new entrants to the list franchises.
Since the first post on this site, Seattle, Philadelphia, Portland and Vancouver have joined the league and Montreal is just about to start. Each has seemed to be the right selection, with each new franchise creating buzz and helping bring the league to new heights.
The expansion process seems set to slow down significantly. After adding franchises annually for years, the league probably has room for one more team in the foreseeable future. On the business side, the constant addition of teams has ensured a constant stream of increasing expansion fees to line the pockets of league owners. The added teams also improve Major League Soccer’s national television footprint and provide needed buzz as the new franchise starts play.
So where next? Over the years, we have taken detailed looks at St. Louis, Miami, New York, Las Vegas, Detroit and elsewhere as part of the search for Major League Soccer’s next franchise. Yet Commissioner Garber has repeatedly indicated that a second franchise in New York is the preferred option. However, there is no apparent rush to lock down a 20th franchise and one of the potential ownership groups, the Wilpon family, is struggling to keep its head above water in Major League Baseball.
The league has earned the right to pause and consider its options. After retrenching early in the last decade and eliminating two franchises in Florida, the league can review the field of potential suitors, set its priorities and make the
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