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Formula for the next MLS expansion city: simple, MLS commissioner says

Dec 3, 2013, 8:22 PM EDT

Sellouts on sellouts, Seattle's stadium success is the envy of other MLS teams. Sellouts on sellouts, Seattle's stadium success is the envy of other MLS teams.

Everyone gets excited when one of Major League Soccer’s corner office types mentions specifically targeted expansion cities. And no one is more “corner office” around MLS than commissioner Don Garber.

Miami is the big elephant of an expansion target currently in MLS sights. And this continued rush to fill out the MLS geographical map with lots o’ dots in the American Southeast means Atlanta has gained favored status after the boxes are checked in South Florida.

Past that, today’s list of targets further in the distance included some familiar names – and one relative newcomer. In his ever evolving scroll of dangling possibilities, Garber today mentioned St. Louis, San Antonio and Minneapolis. And Austin! Which is a relative newcomer in this ongoing game of “Whose got next? … MLS expansion edition.”

Either way, Garber says there is no secret formula.

“It starts with an ownership group and moves from there to a downtown stadium, and it really is very simple,” Garber said Tuesday. “The downtown stadium is a formula that has been working for us. It’s hard for us to imagine a scenario where we go into a market without one of those.”

Actually, he has been saying this for a while now. So have I. So have a bunch of other people … but given the human tendency to complicate, we keep looking for something more complex. “Surely it cannot be THIS simple, right?”

It’s not. Right owner with sufficient financing. Right stadium – probably downtown. From there, TV markets and some other considerations may fall in line, but they do seem to be well down this line.

(MORE: Garber says that radical calendar shift to winter remains far away)

(MORE: Garber says MLS still hopeful of the David Beckham-Miami expansion)

  1. tylerbetts - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:24 PM

    *Stadium not required in New York City

    • danielofthedale - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:33 PM

      He said he expected a stadium to be done for NYCFC for the 2015 season. Now how he expects this to happen I have no idea on.

  2. hildezero - Dec 4, 2013 at 12:08 AM

    “…in the American Southeast means Atlanta has gained favored status after the boxes are checked in South Florida”

    I wouldn’t say that if I were you. It’s still not confirmed if south Florida will get a club.

    • mikeevergreen - Dec 4, 2013 at 11:31 AM

      You’re joking! South Florida is DEFINITELY on the Garber wish list. Ans THIS Christmas at that!

  3. bobinkc - Dec 4, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    Why does Garber think that a “downtown” stadium is required? SKC sells out every game with a suburban stadium and has for a number of years counting the old venue at Community America. Every pro team here in Kansas City has a suburban stadium.

    Pro Hockey is played to the east of KC, MO, in Independence(farm team). Pro basketball played in a “downtown” stadium and hasn’t been seen here for at least 20(?) years (couldn’t sell half their tickets because of the location). The Chiefs and Royals play on the far east side of KC, MO, next to two Interstates. The only thing “downtown” has done here is kill a franchise or force it to move to another city.

    US soccer has been slow coming of age, but I really don’t think “downtown” is required.

    • mikeevergreen - Dec 4, 2013 at 11:32 AM

      Umm, Truman Sports Complex is INSIDE KC City Limits, isn’t it? Or do you NOT consider who plays there to be pro?

  4. mikeevergreen - Dec 4, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    I see all of these cities, and it just occurred to me that 27 would be perfect. It gives you three divisions of nine teams, and a 34 game semi-balanced schedule (16 games against your own division [home-and-home with each team], 18 games outside [one game each, half of the games will be home, half away]).

    If Miami gets in as expected, we’ll have 22 teams, five spots left, and lots of cities wanting in:

    San Antonio
    Oklahoma City
    San Diego
    St. Louis

    Of these eight, the least likely INV are Tuscon (too hot), San Diego (town currently roots for Club TJ in Mexican League), and OKC (not a serious soccer market YET).

    Atlanta (already building new stadium for Falcons) has been touting said stadium’s soccer configuration. Stadiums being built for Indy Eleven reportedly can be expanded to 24,000 without a lot of money required. St. Louis has St. Louis Soccer Park (another one capable of big expansion) and Sacramento has plenty of room for a stadium and parking. San Antonio just build Toyota Field for its Scorpions, and it too is capable of expansion without serious cost.

  5. hildezero - Dec 4, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    Are you joking?! South Florida is DEFINITELY not yet purposed in MLS.

  6. bobinkc - Dec 4, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    Mike, sure the Truman Sports Complex is inside the KC, MO, city limits, but that does NOT place it “downtown.” It is about 8 miles east of downtown. The Sprint Center, which has no pro teams in residence, is downtown. The old Kemper Arena, which used to have pro basketball and pro hockey, is downtown (all the teams left over the years because they couldn’t get attendance “downtown.”). There is a big difference between being “downtown” and being inside the city limits. Kansas City International Airport is inside the city limits but is miles and miles from downtown KC,MO.

    Remember, KCMO stretches from about 160th north to about 160th south and from about 1000 west to around 9000 east. Lots of area, very little money until you get way north of the Missouri River. The pro sports teams we have are supported by people who, by and large, do NOT live in “downtown” KCMO. In fact most of the attendees live in all the other cities and towns in the metroplex.

  7. chadmoon1 - Dec 4, 2013 at 6:33 PM

    I think by downtown Garby means not in the hinterlands of suburbs, like Frisco for FC Dallas, Commerce City for Colorado, and Foxboro for NE Revs. These clubs have real attendance problems because they are seen as being too far away from the city hub.

  8. futbolhistorian - Dec 5, 2013 at 12:43 AM

    “Urban” is probably better than “downtown” as a way to describe the ideal location of a stadium.

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