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MLS expansion update from Commissioner Garber

Apr 24, 2013, 8:15 AM EDT

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Yesterday afternoon an impromptu Twitter Q&A from MLS Commissioner Don Garber lifted the lid on all kinds of MLS expansion talk.

St. Louis? Miami? NYC 2? Sacramento? Orlando? Chill out guys, let’s get down to what was actually said.

Fans inundated Garber with requests on the leagues expansion plans, and the commish gave some revealing answers.

According to Garber, the plans for NYC 2 are developing: “we continue to make progress in Queens.” While in the Floridian market, both Orlando and Miami have seen rising levels of interest in an MLS franchise. Garber is “hoping to see support in Florida House for stadium support bill,” to help out Orlando City, while he admitted that in Miami “there’s been more and more interest of late.”

MORE: Nine mayoral candidates, but no committals to support MLS stadium in Queens

Some cities further down the pecking order for MLS expansion franchises were also mentioned, as Sacramento and St. Louis made the Twitter Q&A. With Garber hopeful of next month’s Manchester City vs. Chelsea friendly at Busch Stadium helping to promote soccer and MLS in St. Louis.

And one fan even asked if 30 teams would adorn MLS in the future. An emphatic, yet slightly non-committal, response came from Garber’s twitter feed: “30 seems like too many.”

So what do we learn from this impromptu outreach from the commissioner? In a nutshell, NYC 2 is pushing ahead and Florida seems to be a market where MLS is targeting.

Fans in Atlanta, Minnesota and San Antonio may be disappointed to hear their names not mentioned more prominently. But those markets are focusing on proving themselves in the NASL, and all three are doing a fine job at that.

Expansion talk always gets the juices flowing, and with Garber opening up to fans about the potential new franchises, it only helps to keep the chatter going amongst soccer circles in the US.

MORE: Orlando purchases $8.2 million parcel, unveils soccer stadium plans

But if the league does fail in its bid to make NYC 2 happen and a stadium plan cannot be worked out in Queens, what then? Orlando seems to be the best option. They have already earmarked land for a new soccer-specific stadium that the city has purchased for the franchise. Plus Orlando City now has a wealthy Brazilian part owner, who will help fund the new SSS. The fan base is on the rise and their links from playing against plenty of MLS sides in preseason and affiliation with Sporting KC has helped their stock to rise further.

What we learned from Garber’s expansion chat is that MLS has plenty of options. We aren’t much closer to seeing which ones will pan out. But boy, its fun to talk about it.

  1. magicbucs - Apr 24, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    Orlando and the Orlando city lions are ready and hungry!!!!

  2. dfstell - Apr 24, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    I find this expansion model to be the least attractive part of MLS. It’s just exclusive to large swaths of the country. And some people wonder why so many American fans enjoy the European leagues more. Once the closest club is more than about a hour away, you might as well be supporting someone on the other side of an ocean .

    • krazymunky - Apr 24, 2013 at 11:09 AM

      America is a lot bigger than most european countries….

    • wandmdave - Apr 24, 2013 at 11:16 AM

      While I hear your point what is the alternative? The US isn’t Europe. Our population centers are spread much farther apart. Even if everyone loved MLS and there were no other sports we wouldn’t have a team within an hour of everyone.

    • charliej11 - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:08 PM

      I agree with dfstell. Although I don’t know how anyone can watch the Euro leagues. They are so poorly run and very boring.

      One option is to not limit the league to under 30 teams. I don’t know why he would say that.

      How is MLS going to be the top league in the world with a very small amount of the population represented ? He should be shooting for 40 teams and great national TV contract, rather than 24 teams and the same one they have now.

      • eboe - Apr 24, 2013 at 8:04 PM

        I am not a fan of Pro-Rel but if we really need to expand the league, we could move to a 16 team (8 per division) MLS 1 and MLS 2… I cannot say what would happen as far as pro/rel from NASL/USL but a lot of the new teams might come from their ranks anyway… Just an idea that might be a bit easier to bear for people like me who don’t thing Pro-Rel is a great idea in the USA. Maybe expansion teams would be started in MLS 2 and would pay a smaller expansion fee. Who knows. Just an idea.

  3. chadmoon1 - Apr 24, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    No team should go to Florida unless it is well proven that they can draw consistent crowds. Miami and Tampa have already been tried, let them build their brand in the NASL. Maybe Orlando, but not for another 3 years of consistent 7k fans a game.

    Garber should give up on NYC2 and let the Cosmos build it themselves. How dumb would it be if MLS pushed through a second team, then the Cosmos became bigger? Let the Cosmos do it themselves, as they already have a stadium plan.

    We’ve already seen in LA that 2 teams in same area is not necessarily a good thing.

  4. f2maestro - Apr 24, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    Why not a city like Pittsburgh? I can’t help but think a team would flourish in a sports town like Pittsburgh.

    • eboe - Apr 24, 2013 at 7:59 PM

      Pittsburgh has a USL Pro team with their own stadium… a small stadium (3500) , but their own soccer-specific stadium nonetheless. The Riverhounds have been playing since 1999…

    • metrototale - Apr 25, 2013 at 9:01 AM

      Because there isn’t an interested ownership group.

      Next question.

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