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MLS- Expansion

Garber: NYC2 efforts must pick up pace as Florida expansion becomes a stronger possibility

Don Garber

By FRANCO PANIZO

HARRISON, N.J. — MLS is still focused and hopeful of basing its 20th team in New York City, but the pressure is on to get a deal done and soon.

Speaking to reporters at halftime of the New York Red Bulls’ scoreless draw with D.C. United on Saturday, MLS commissioner Don Garber touched on expansion and the league’s need to get a deal finalized with the city of New York finalized over the construction of a soccer-specific stadium in Queens.

MLS has been working hard in recent months to try and get New York officials to support the New York project but there are outside pressures – such as Orlando City attempting to finalize a stadium deal of their own that will hinge on entrance into MLS – to get something done soon.

“It needs to get done so that we can move on with our expansion plans,” said Garber. “I’m not going to put any timing on that but we’ve got to finalize our expansion plan. There’s a lot of activity in Orlando and we’ve got to figure out where that fits in with our expansion timing.”

Garber also added that Florida as a whole is becoming a more attractive option for future MLS expansion, which may mean that more than one city in the Sunshine State could house a team in the future (Miami has been reported as a possible destination in recent weeks).

“We are focused with Florida more so than we’ve ever been in the past,” said Garber. “There are about 80 million people in that part of the country and we don’t have any representation lower than (Washington) D.C., so Florida has become a bit more of a priority.”

—–

What do you make of Garber’s comments? Do you see NYC2 being finalized any time soon? Happy to see MLS considering Florida as more of a priority? Which Florida cities do you think would be able to house MLS teams?

Share your thoughts below.

78 comments
      • Samurai

        Atlanta, I havent heard much about. Arthur Blank, owner of the Falcons, was supposed to be interested in a MLS expansion franchise, but they could have been just rumors. MLS should be careful not to expand to fast, and into markets that will not support soccer. That is one the mistakes the NASL made, among other bad decisions, and it sank the league. Although the salary cap is something the NASL did not have.

        Like

      • Snags

        I agree they shouldn’t expand into markets that won’t support soccer. What’s that have to do with Atlanta? I am so tired of people who don’t know this city making assumptions based on some Dukes of Hazzard episode they watched. The Silverbacks had the 2nd highest attendance in the NASL last year, and that was with one of the lousiest teams.

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      • Seriously

        One of the lousiest? I think absolutely worst is better, did anyone finish lower? I don’t remember but the ‘backs were awful last year. I would love for ATL to get a team in MLS, but it looks like Orlando is my best shot at getting a real team to get behind in the south anytime soon.

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      • eddie

        Why not, It’s in the deep south? It’s a southern city, absolutely.

        Like

      • Nick

        Culturally speaking, Orlando is not part of the South. None of Florida south of more or less the I-75/Florida Turnpike split is. The chances of anyone in Atlanta, Birmingham, Charlotte, Memphis, etc., supporting Orlando as a “Southern” team is precisely zero.

        Like

      • John F

        Speaking as someone in Birmingham, I absolutely agree with Nick. Most of us here would have a pretty hard time with Atlanta too, come to think of it.

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      • Snags

        Well my original reply got held up for moderation, lol. So I guess I will try again…

        I agree that MLS should not expand into markets that won’t support soccer. If you base your opinion about Atlanta on some Dukes of Hazzard episode, then I understand how you could hold an incorrect assumption like that.

        The Atlanta Silverbacks had the 2nd highest attendance in the NASL last year, averaging around 4,000 a game with a lousy team, no marketing, a goofy name and logo that turned off a lot of serious soccer fans, and a non-centrally located stadium.

        When (not if) we get our MLS team, I will gladly accept your apology.

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      • Iggy

        Snags here. My replies keep getting held up for moderation, so I changed my name for this post, lol.

        The Atlanta Silverbacks had the 2nd highest attendance in the NASL last year, averaging around 4,000 a game with a lousy team, no marketing, a goofy name and logo that turned off a lot of serious soccer fans, and a non-centrally located stadium.

        When (not if) we get our MLS team, I will gladly accept your apology.

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      • Samurai

        I was unaware of that information, silly me should have searched myself, given that news I don’t see why they can’t be given a opportunity at the next level Major League Soccer. With all these teams getting accepted we could have a NFL sized league for soccer, which would be amazing if every team was stable.

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      • evan

        There is a reason Atlanta gets bashed as a sports town. You couldn’t hold the Thrashers (sure hockey’s a northern sport, but dallas does a good job…), the Hawks get the most tepid of support, and the Braves’ attendence actually DECREASED during their unprecented NL East dominance. Bottom line, Atlanta isn’t a very good sports town, and MLS should do their due dillegnce before entering that market (not saying they shouldn’t, but I’m skeptical)

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      • Seriously

        I don’t think it is fair to compare the other sports to soccer in this instance. While the Braves general attendance isn’t great (most MLB stadiums are pretty empty for most of their games anyway) they have huge support across the South and make plenty off of merchandise, hockey is a hard sell since we almost never see snow and as such have little attachment to a sport played on a frozen pond (though I myself enjoy it), the NFL is trying to compete in College Football land… it isn’t winning that battle down here and I don’t know many average people who give a crap about the NBA down here. Soccer fans are a different breed, I don’t know why that is but it is. I know that I will gladly make trips to Atlanta to support an MLS team much more often than I go to Braves games.

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      • Samurai

        Well, none of this matters because all the point of of this expansion is to make money off fans. Whichever place looks like money will be put in the bank.

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      • Usa1

        Totally matters. If fans won’t attend baseball playoff games they aren’t coming to watch a game against the Union.

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      • Usa1

        It’s not just soccer-Atlanta fans don’t support their teams in general. Empty seats at braves playoff games, Atlanta (Calgary) flames, Atlanta thrashers, etc. etc.

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      • sony

        give him money a lots of money for a team in Atlanta.That’s what he wants.

        Like

      • Grover

        The new stadium agreement he came to with the city has him contributing four times as much as the city is chipping in, and he won’t even own the place after it’s built. He is also contributing 65 million to civic improvement in the area, not to mention all the jobs the stadium will generate. But oh yeah, I forgot, ”All rich people are bad. They should use that money to buy unicorns, etc.”

        Like

      • Sigmund G.

        Um, no they aren’t. Some people behave badly and some don’t. Some of those who do are rich and some aren’t. Generalizations don’t really help when trying to understand the reality of things as they actually are. Peace out.

        Like

      • Old School

        I would also say, unless your name is George Thorogood, saying “bad to the bone” should also grounds to be ignored.

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      • WG

        How about a team in Dallas? We still have the name for the team that people here supported, the Burn, not that lousy team with an awful name in Oklahoma.

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      • Seriously

        The Burn? You really would rather be the Burn? I can understand wanting the team closer to Dallas, but honestly that is just ridiculous.

        If you were a former Metrostars fan i might understand as they sold out to an energy drink company, but FCD improved their name big time. Many MLS ’96 things need to be done away with, thankfully the Burn is no longer part of that list as it already went the way of the dodo.

        Like

      • WG

        My preference is for the Tornado, but if the Fire is good enough for Chicago, then the Burn is good enough for a team in Dallas.The Burn played in the Cotton Bowl in front of a large amount of Spanish speaking fans. It may not have been the soccer-specific stadium the MLS prefers, but it was a blast to go to the games. Which I guess was viewed as a “problem”. The way that team handled the move to to that very uninviting stadium in a very uninviting area, along with the local down-market version of Herbalife as a shirt-sponsor, just hardens my feelings against them.

        Like

  • Old School

    Putting all your eggs in one basket, publicly stated which city is the favorite and dismissing valid candidates has been a huge mistake by MLS and Don Garber.

    I’m not saying a Florida MLS club is the best option but MORE options and created competition for that 20th spot is something MLS should be shooting for, not playing favorites for a city/area (that many of us feel) that’s not really deserving of a 2nd franchise.

    Like

    • Samurai

      Garber feels NY2 is necessary because the Red Bulls play in New Jersey and have poor attendance, at least tv-wise. Having a team in NYC would make the league more attractive/popular and encourage more star players to come and play in MLS. I always thought that the Cosmos would get the keys to the car, but I don’t know if they have a owner with the finances to make MLS happen. NEw York is a important media market no doubt, however, many other cities in the U.S. are just as intriguing.

      Like

      • Old School

        “Having a team in NYC would make the league more attractive/popular”

        Like having 2 LA clubs?

        I’m not naive of why Don Garber and others *believe* it will be beneficial for MLS but I don’t share the belief that’s a guaranteed lock.

        Until an ownership group steps up, the entire New York based club is a pipe dream. Meanwhile, other cities are creating legitimate pushes to get that 20th spot.

        To ignore a city, club and efforts of someone like Orlando for hopes of a NY club is ridiculous.

        Reality > Hopes

        Like

      • Samurai

        It is not my personal belief that MLS needs a franchise in New York City. As I mentioned below, there are alot of solid options out there, and Garber doesn’t have to target NYC specifically. New York is still a question mark right now. “Make the league more attractive/popular”, is what I believe Garber thinks will happen if they secure the NYC expansion franchise.

        Like

      • baropbop

        It isn’t ridiculous. I don’t know why it’s so hard for people to understand….it’s all about tv viewers. They don’t care how many people are in the stands. If they wanted another portland, skc, etc they would put a team in orlando, st louis, raleigh or a few other places and have guaranteed sell out crowds over night.
        1st concern tv deals
        2nd concern cities foreign players are willing to live in. Being able to live in manhattan and take a cab to the stadium makes mls a possibility for a whole new caliber of player
        3rd concern attendance

        3rd

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      • baropbop

        Also… why do you think the galaxy are the showcase team and not seattle? Tv deal.
        The galaxy are a lot like the red bulls in that they play in the middle of nowhere and have mediocre attendance…..clearly it’s not the primary concern to fill seats

        Like

      • Old School

        The Galaxy have mediocre attendance? That’s news to me.

        Like

      • Old School

        Fair enough.

        I think most people would find a club #2 in attendance within MLS to be anything but mediocre.

        Like

      • baropbop

        That point was also relative to the main point. I would expect st louis, raleigh, orlando and other contenders to sell out.
        Skc, portland could sell many more tickets but theyvare limitwd by the stadiums size. Thats not the issue LA has

        Like

      • Old School

        Ok, so you’re saying Raleigh, Orlando and “other contenders” would sell out…i.e. become #2 immediately in MLS attendance surpassing LA’s attendance.

        Got it.

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      • Beaver

        St. Louis an other contender? Our soccer tradition is richer then what LA’s will ever be and plus we just sold out an 47,000 seat Busch Stadium for a Chelsea Man City game.

        Like

      • baropbop

        And that existing teams would already be ahead of LA if they had been more ambitious with their stadiums.

        Like

    • solles

      Garber has not put all his eggs in one basket, nor dismissed other candidate cities, the very nature of this article debunks both of those things. I get that you don’t think NYC “deserves” a second team but please stop making stuff up.

      Like

      • Old School

        You do realize this article exists because it’s becoming very apparent to Garber/MLS that relying on a second NY club/ownership group & making public statement after public statement that NY2 is their primary goal hasn’t worked out.

        Therefore, NOW they’re starting to consider other options.

        Where have you been the last few years?

        Like

      • solles

        Here, where have you been? Garber has NEVER discounted other serious markets, I challenge you to post a link that proves otherwise.

        Like

      • Old School

        “We continue to work hard for our 20th team to be here in New York, preferably in Flushing Meadows,” Garber stated.”

        The fact that you needed a quote, or textual proof, is laughable.

        I ask again: Where have you been?

        Like

  • Samurai

    Give Orlando the team, they have a diverse population with alot of people who genuinely like soccer and with a decent following of the current team Orlando City. There is no need to cater to any demographic or fan base, most of the peole in the area would support the team, they only have the Orlando Magic as the other sports team in the city.

    Like

    • ed - houston

      I agree, Orlando has been the frontrunner for a little while now. As far as Chivas USA, they are not going nowhere unless the owner sells.

      Like

      • baropbop

        He may not have a choice. The league can’t possibly be happy with their racist policies and they don’t have a lucrative tv deal and they only drew 4000 for the home opener.
        I can’t see them sticking around…unless they completely rebrand…but that would be easier to do in a new city.

        Like

  • Weaksauce

    Thats good news for now, AS long as you dont give a bid to elk grove/Sacramento
    Horrible idea

    I would love it to be in Orlando – Please Disney buy a franchise.

    MLS highlights would be on ESPN all the time if Disney bought Orlando City. More league exposure

    Like

      • Seriously

        Yes, that MLS Breakaway stuff today was mint. I watched soccer on the NBC networks non-stop today.

        Like

      • AtléticoUnionCity

        This! Notable day in MLS’s history vis-a-vi broadcasting and media attention. I luv NBCSC!

        Like

  • JaxJam

    Don’t overlook Jax. We broke attendance records for the mens and womens games against Scotland.

    Like

  • Excellency

    An in-city soccer specific stadium in Brooklyn. Manhattan is not going to come up with the land because the municipal unions will block anything that doesnt maximize property taxes that pay union pensions. Time to turn Manhattan into a Boca Raton north condo complex.

    Brooklyn needs to continue its bid to become the coolest boro with a great inner city footie experience. Any Russian billionaires out there interested?

    Like

    • Tony in Quakeland

      Except of course pensions are not paid out of property taxes. They are paid out of a huge pool of assets managed on the member’s behalf, collected out of deferred wages and negotiated payments from the city authorities (much like matching contributions to a 401k). Per the City Controller, they city can meet its pension obligations for decades. Not to mess with your conspiracy theory…

      Like

  • baropbop

    Nbcsn mls breakaway is amazing for the MLS.
    Glad I didn’t purchase direct kick this year

    Like

  • JesseMT

    I say 3 teams for the Southeast: Orlando City, South Florida, Carolina (Triangle)

    Throw in NYC2, and you’re at 23.

    That leaves one more wild card city: Maybe Phoenix, Vegas, Minnesota…

    All five of these by 2020?

    Like

  • WorldCitizen

    MLS needs to focus on what will grow the league most effectively. I get that Garber thinks a NY franchise would be huge, and it could possibly be so. But if (as I suspect) the league is after better TV exposure/deals first and foremost, it might well be better to go after a place like Orlando first and consider other, similar candidates as well. A larger national footprint will likely be most helpful in building buzz and broadening the league’s fan base, and while NY is the nation’s largest media market, MLS (as Garber correctly notes) has a gaping hole in the South. Atlanta and Miami seem to have little ownership interest at this time, and Orlando not only has that, it also offers an uncrowded major-league-type market (only an NBA team, like Salt Lake or Portland) as well as a serious stadium deal in the works. And if Orlando is a solid success story (which it probably would be), billionaire sports guys in places like Miami or Atlanta would likely take favorable notice of it. Saying all that, though, I also think Garber is being myopic with his subtle yet palpable hostility toward the Cosmos stadium plans. That team now has some real money (Persian Gulf oil cash, as memory serves) behind it, and while the stadium would be a few miles further from Manhattan, if the Cosmos get the green light first and MLS continues to be sandbagged in Queens, it would behoove the league to consider courting the Cosmos after all, because in that case they would have both a stadium deal ready to go *and* a solid enough ownership group (which MLS has yet to line up for the Queens project). Sure, the Belmont Park area isn’t quite as close to “the action” as the USTA Complex is, but it’s not like we’re talking Frisco, TX or even Bridgeview, IL here; Belmont Park is still readily accessible for New Yorkers, so MLS would do well to keep an open mind toward the Cosmos.

    Like

  • MA1 Rodriguez

    Both Southern Florida and New York City are terrible for MLS, you need fill the teams at least 5 to 6 real DPs attract the snobby fans. With MLS ultra socialist salary cap theres no way these markets to take off.

    Like

  • MA1 Rodriguez

    Orlando might do well about 14,000-15,000 people at the games, but most money done by TV and moving jerseys or other crap.

    Like

  • John M

    One thing I worry about is that Garber and crew are looking at the map and saying to themselves this area has no representation and this city has this amount of population. Where as you could disregard that to a great extent and look where a team would be best for fan support and culture that is there already. Also instead of using other sports as an expansion blueprint it might even be better to put a team in an area that does not have the competition. Where MLS places it’s next team(s) could have a great effect on how successful the league is in the future. NY could be great but NY Red Bulls don’t sell out most the time with big stars and Chivas USA looks like they are good living off the parity system.

    Like

  • Pingback: Major League Soccer may set its eyes on Florida if a deal isn't finalized soon | Queens NYC

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