MLS- Columbus Crew

Garber touches on expansion, schedule and more in latest State of the League address


photo by Howard C. Smith/ISIphotos.com

With the 17th season in MLS history just weeks away from kicking off, commissioner Don Garber held his latest State of the League address in Columbus, Ohio to discuss some of the hotter topics.

Accompanied by Columbus Crew owner Clark Hunt and Crew president and general manager Mark McCullers, Garber touched on everything from the Crew's season ticket sales to the league's schedule.

Of interest to many fans and pundits, Garber also spoke about the league's ongoing search for a 20th franchise. Garber continued to stress that the league is working on getting it to be a team in New York.

"We are working hard on New York and working with the Mayor's office and city," Garber said.

Scheduled to meet with owners of USL Pro club Orando City SC and that city's mayor and officials on March 1, Garber stated that the league is looking to return to Florida in the future.

"We need to be in Florida at some point," Garber said.

Garber may want the league to return to Florida, but he admitted he was "gun-shy" over giving Tampa another chance considering its previous team, the Tampa Bay Mutiny, folded in 2001.

Garber also said the league's schedule will need to be altered in the future so that it is more in sync with FIFA's international calender. He did not offer a timetable as to when that might happen.

"I think at some point, and I don't know when that point is, we'll probably have to be more aligned with the international calendar," said Garber. "How we get there and when we get there remains to be seen."

A topic the MLS commisioner, Hunt and McCullers all touched on was the Columbus Crew's effort to reach 10,000 season ticket holders, just as they did in 1999 and as recently as 2006.

McCullers would not say how many season tickets had been sold to date, though he did reveal that the totals had already surpassed that of 2011. Still, Garber wants Crew fans to get back to the 10,000 figure.

"There's no reason why you can’t have that now," said Garber. "You've got a lot of teams with 10,000 season tickets. You've got to get back to that point."

Garber also gave Crew fans some good news when he stated the league would continue help the team as much as possible in the future. 

"We're going to continue to provide whatever resources the league can," Garber said, "to bring the team back to the position it was in a few years ago."


What do you think of Garber's comments? Do you see New York or Orlando getting the 20th franchise? Agree with Garber saying that MLS needs to be more aligned with the international calendar?

Share your thoughts below.


    It would make it a true rivalry, cant have a NY derby when one team plays in Jersey. Attendance wouldnt be a problem either for “NJRB” since most of the fans are from NJ anyway. Who knows maybe it will even increase attendance numbers. Im all for it!!


  • Kasey

    But SSFC Timbers and Whitecaps are Mainstream sports outfits in their markets. Are the Revs or Fire..? No. If you have to mention the Sonics and Mariners you have no clue about the solid Sounders demographic.


  • Chris

    I’m going to call total BS on Yankee Stadium being farther for most people. Getting to the 4/B/D/Metro North is MUCH easier and faster for most people than getting to the PATH and then to Harrison (especially on the weekend when the 33rd stops at Hoboken). Go ahead and let me know how many places you can find on Google Maps which are faster to RBA from Manhattan/Queens/Brooklyn/Bronx.

    CitiField is a bit farther than Yankee Stadium but still faster for most people in the NY metro area – again due to subways being more convenient than the PATH.

    Bottom line is that soccer does not have the following the other sports have yet. Nowhere near it. And when people have a LOT of other options available to them which are MUCH more convenient than RBA is there will be a lot of no-shows from people who decide to do something else last minute.

    Hell, even the Yankees only had 20 sellout games out of 81 last year for all their popularity. Just google “yankees sellout crowd stats” for that info.

    My point is we need to allow soccer to grow in an already sports mature environment. The fact that RBA even sells out sometimes (tickets sold) is already great news. The fact that another SSS is being built is great news.

    There are so many positive things to focus on in the league right now we should be doing that.


  • theraccoun

    An inferiority complex? Are you serious? He’s the COMMISSIONER OF THE LEAGUE, it’s his job to make the league as successful as possible.


  • Joamiq

    Up and down most of the West side of the island, as well as straight through the heart of Brooklyn and out into Queens, you’re usually close to an A/C/E, which deposits you at the WTC for the PATH pretty easily. If you’re on the East side, you just take the 4/5/6 down and walk like 3 minutes to the PATH station at WTC. The PATH is no tougher to deal with than any subway line. You transfer to it as you would anytime you have to switch lines, and it’s a simple 20 minute ride from WTC to Harrison. You have to go pretty far out into the outer reaches of the outer boroughs to find places in the city that are well over an hour away from RBA. I just don’t buy travel as an excuse not to go out to RBA.


  • H2Oman

    Well… it has something to do with the fact that New York is one of the media, financial hubs of the world, w/ a huge market, lots of money and potential for enormous exposure. A successful, top flight club there could well propel MLS forward to another level and attract star talent in their prime. Sports, particularly soccer are international. MLS is NOT competing against MLB and the NFL, they are competing against Serie A, La Liga, the EPL. Revenue does not come from tickets, it comes from TV contracts and corporate sponsors. It’s not “fair”, but a pro league is a business and about the bottom line. Harsh reality, a town like Charlotte will never offer what NY does. Do you think Jeremy Lin would be getting anywhere near the exposure if he was playing on the Bobcats? No way. Believe me, the NBA is loving that and the MLS wants similar play. Rightly so..


  • Joamiq

    That’s not true at all. I went from the city to RBA all the time, and in my experience most of the people hanging out in the bars in Newark pre and post game live and work in NYC.


  • rico

    I am pretty sure the DP rule is in effect for all MLS teams, so explain how the rule gives anyone an unfair advantage. Folks throwing around the term Gerber Boy shouldn’t come across so whiney… it comes across a bit ludicrous.


  • fischy

    I don’t think “TV markets” figures too much into MLS’ thinking — at least, not now. The league gets pretty meager ratings even in the markets it’s in. For now, most teams will sink or swim based on crowds and the merchandise they sell. The Galaxy stands out as an exception, but don’t expect their deal to set a trend.

    The league is looking for markets that will support a team. In the long run, the league might want to focus on media penetration — and networks are concerned with penetration as much as they are with ratings — but low ratings will keep the league from penning any lucrative network deals for years to come.


  • fischy

    I do, The success of the Sounders moved Portland and Vancouver to the head of the line, but those cities were not there beforee.


  • fischy

    Bankrupting the city? Not gonna happen, and not just because NYC could afford to build a stadium. Not gonna happen because most of it will be privately financed. The city might have to chip in with some infrastructure improvements.


  • fischy

    Thing about Minnesota is every sports league has had some trouble there, and every team has either left or threatened to at some point. Doesn’t bode well.


  • Gnarls

    Never had a problem with Fox Sports West showing both LA and Shitvas games, but sometimes Fox Sports West shows one while Prime Ticket shows another.


  • Lisa NYC

    Absolutely ridiculous! I guess you’ve never taken the crowded PATH trains headed back to Manhattan after the games. Fans transfer at WTC to go to Brooklyn and transfer at 34th to go to Long Island & the Bronx with Manhattan stops in between. I don’t doubt that the Red Bulls have alot of NJ fans, but their fans are also from NY.

    Also, since we agree that Manhattan will not get a stadium, I don’t think Queens is any better than Harrison. I’ve been stuck on the 7 running local after a Mets game and after a US Open match. It takes an hour just get to 42nd Street and then I still have to transfer to get home. RBA is much closer and easier for me and I am a non-driving, subway/Path riding New Yorker.



    Don’t forget, Portland and Vancouver were awarded MLS franchises before the Flounders ever played a single MLS game.

    The only real reason S#ittle was first was they had the ownership group together first. The efforts to bring MLS to Portland and Vancouver started in about 2007 and were rewarded with expansion MLS teams in March 2009. Yes, MLS knew what the Flounder season ticket sales were which certainly didn’t hurt Portland and Vancouver’s bids, nor did the fact that Portland and Vancouver had regularly outdrawn the Flounders at the USL level (heck Portland outdrew many MLS teams when they were USL, Vancouver was limited by playing in their 6000 seat USL stadium).

    Sounder fans love to try to revise history and tell us that the Timbers and Whitecaps wouldn’t be in MLS if not for them which is only slightly true. Absolutely it helped push those teams over the top, but the real issue is that MLS finally started not worrying about soccer moms and size of TV market (assuming those alone would fill seats) and started looking at markets where the soccer was most important and there was a true passion about the current local team with previous successful minor league teams (Seattle, Portland, Vancouver and Montreal). There really are no more minor league success stories like those 4 left now, though I think the league would take a long look at any city anywhere who started getting 10-15k fans showing up regularly for USL/NASL games (Tampa, Orlando, Miami, Atlanta, St. Louis, New Orleans, whatever). The problem is most of those cities get as little as 1K fans out for minor league soccer. Other cities like Rochester historically get 5-8k out, but there is a limit to that market too if you suddenly expect them to triple or quadruple attendance (you’d have a Columbus light).

    That is what worries me about this whole second team in NY issue. It is old MLS thinking – that if we go to a population center with a lot of immigrants they will, by default, become fans. I think resurrection of Cosmos may hurt RBNY (who really blew it by building their stadium where they did and create a situation where they become the Nets / Clippers (2012 excepted) of MLS and fans stop going to their games.




    The truth is that most Americans don’t follow soccer at all. The Northwest is different. People here fell in love with it in the 70s with their NASL teams and significant rivalries were born. Portland, Seattle and Vancouver were all on the list as potential founding MLS cities, but none had ownership groups wanting to take a chance on MLS nor did they fit the initial MLS profile (big city, lots of soccer moms) so they went overlooked for a decade plus. Seattle finally got an ownership group together and took the plunge. For that, I (gagging as I type here) applaud them and commend them for their success … it helped to get MLS to pay attention to Vancouver and Portland’s bids, but there was a whole lot of other hard work that both of those cities accomplished on their own behalves which had nothing at all to do with Seattle.

    The Northwest is also a funny place. As successful as those three teams are, there are a bunch of people who were initially mad because AAA baseball had to relocate from Portland and that NBA basketball failed in Seattle who twist it all to blame soccer. These are people who will never (out of principled spite) attend a Sounder or Timber game and will spout off at every possible moment about how terrible it is that people go to these games but they can’t see their sport of choice (because there isn’t the broad support, but they want to blame soccer fans rather than point fingers squarely at basketball or baseball fans / non-sports fans who are the reasons those teams failed and moved).


  • Dustyn

    Ownership is far more important than location. You can make an MLS team work in just about any major city given a motivated and solid ownership group. Just look at the difference in KC between HSG and OnGoal ownership. Same market, completely different results.


  • Jack

    There’s no way MLS will ever go to the international schedule, Garber must be talking about being off on more FIFA dates. Could you imagine playing a game in front of 20 people, 0 degree weather, Columbus in Feb?


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