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MLS Expansion: Decision Day in Portland

2008 006 

The fate of professional soccer in Portland rests in the hands of a five-person panel of Portland city commissionerswho will decide today if a bill to fund the building of a stadium and renewal of PGE Park will go to the full city council for a vote, or if it will die before it gets there.

Needing three votes out of five, and reportedly having two in favor and one against, the Portland MLS expansion bid hinges on the ability to convince one of two remaining undecided commissioners, Dan Salzman and Nick Fish, that bringing MLS to the city of Portland would make investing city funds into stadium projects worth it.

MLS has already reportedly reached an agreement with the Portland expansion group to award Portland a 2011 expansion team if the stadium funding proposal is passed, leaving it up to today's vote to decide the future of MLS in Portland.

What do you think of this situation? Do you think Portland will pull it out and join Vancouver (which SBI identified as one of the expansion winners last week) in the MLS expansion class of 2011? Are you still holding out hope that St. Louis gets a bid? Not crazy about MLS adding two teams from the Pacific Northwest? Are you a soccer fan from that area who is loving the idea of Seattle, Vancouver and Portland facing each other in MLS play?

Share your thoughts on Portland's MLS expansion chances below.


  1. Scrap Portland, it is a small city, and pretty much isolated, let them chill out in USL a little longer, maybe, if Seattle works out and Vancouver gets added, the rivalry will expose a need for Portland to get a team, but 3 cities so quick, seems a bit of a risk.

    I’ve been getting the feeling that Vancouver will get one of these spots, for it fullfills both the canadian and pacific NW needs, and is a great city lacking much in Pro sports. they would complement seattle nicely.

    St. Louis deserves this bid, the stadium has been confirmed, the fanbase is obvious, the locale is perfect, and it evens out the East West league structure. KC and Chicago would both benefit from such a bid, like previously said, the 9 hour drive for traveling fans of KC is a bit much, and Chi-town isnt much better off. STL has a major airport, making it much more accessible than Portland. Their bid group has great infrastructure, and is well known in the area, club advertisement would be virtually taken care of.

    Portland is great in USL, but to throw 3 teams at the NW so quickly is foolish, while the MW is ripe for pickin’s. AB is a huge sponsor and contributor to all sports worldwide, and their clout is massive. STL is the birthplace of American Soccer, and now deserves their long-overdue club. If MLS cut STL out again, then the league is rubbish, and looses credibility as a league being about soccer and not money. it is so obvious and simple, STL is the best option. STL, with Vancouver, will balance the league, and bring great flavor and attention. Let’s get on with the announcement, the time is near, The Die is cast, Viva la San Louis!

  2. Well done, Portland! This sounds odd coming from a Sounders supporter, but things wouldn’t be the same without the Timbers (& hopefully Whitecaps) around to pound on each other. Together we show MLS what tradition and rivalry mean!

  3. If you take Vancouver you gotta take Portland too. What’s Paulsen going to do with a Portland USL team if Seattle and Vancouver play in MLS?

    If Portland isn’t chosen by MLS it will cease to exist within 3 years.

    Posted by: Barry Jive and His Uptown Five | March 11, 2009 at 12:08 PM

    What won’t exist within 3 years? Portland? Could we be that lucky?

  4. Is this really a resolution? I am $15M away from owning a nice estate in the south of France. I wonder how Garber and the boys will look at this.


    But now there’s a $15 million funding gap which changed from an Urban Renewal District to a “to be determined” which was the reason it was able to pass.

    Also, the first two votes were nay. So it’s on the final penalty kick.

  6. It’s going to be interesting to see how this pans out. Yes, the council voted 3-2 to pass, but they took out $15 in funding that has to be replaced by some unknown source. As was mentioned, this is a engagement and not a marriage yet, but it is an important step forward.

  7. OTTAWA!!!

    Have you forgotten that there were four bids! Ottawa is so ignored that I will not be surprised when they announce that Ottawa is in.


  8. what makes anyone think STL will draw well. It seems to me that historically teams in the Midwest have struggled with attendance. Also, the cardinals dominate that city in the summer so they would have alot of competition.

  9. Why should we care that AB donated the use of a 6,000 seat stadium?

    Posted by: John Smith | March 11, 2009 at 04:39 PM

    Its not the stadium itself, its the land for a new stadium and the fact that one of MLS’ largest corporate sponsors is pushing for the St. Louis bid. Sponsorship money talks and MLS wants money.

  10. As a Sounders fan who has travelled to nearly every Sounders match in Vancouver and Portland for the past 15 years, I would really appreciate having both Vancouver and Portland as Seattle opponents again. We already have had the Cascadia Cup for the 3-team rivalry.

    This should not be referred to as a Pacific Northwest rivalry. Vancouver fans consider themselves to be in the Southwest.

  11. Ethan-
    In the USL, Vancouver has historically enjoyed an intense rivalry with Seattle and Portland. Not quite as heated as the Sounders/Timbers rivalry, but I used to live in Portland and the Timbers Army always had a little bit extra for the Whitecaps.

  12. Remember, Anheuser-Busch is not longer an american company. InBev of Belgium now owns it. Not sure what to read into that, just pointing it out.

    Posted by: milkshake of despair | March 11, 2009 at 03:33 PM

    That means absolutely nothing. The important thing is A-B is a major MLS sponsor. If they are pushing the St. Louis bid, MLS is more likely to listen.

  13. Remember, Anheuser-Busch is not longer an american company. InBev of Belgium now owns it. Not sure what to read into that, just pointing it out.

  14. I will boost that economy if they award the franchises. I will fly to either PDX or Vancouver, and do a three-day soccer tour of the Pacific Northwest starting from the top-down or bottom-up. You will get hotels, gas (or train), airfare, sports tickets (because I’ll probably see the Mariners, Blazers and Canucks play), massive bar taps, and many other tourist attractions. Great soccer support is almost guaranteed from the PNW and, as will TFC, soccer-lovers will travel to see it.

    For the undecided pols out there…the “Field of Dreams” motto applies…and to many, that’s exactly what these projects are about…dreams.

  15. sirfallsalot: yeah, the one thing StL is missing this the critical thing for success, one individual or entity that is willing and able to lose money, year after year, for the foreseeable future, risking the long term payoff of either breaking even eventually or flipping the club for enough to make up the losses over time. the reason you need one guy or company is because coalitions break down in the face of continuing losses and start to squabble. There are no successful MLS franchises not run by one deep pocketed guy. look at what’s happened to DCU, once a flagship, now that MacFalane and Chang split the costs, nothing good comes of it. you need one guy, willing to sign checks, build the club and take the credit. coalitions tend to not have that stability. Cooper is going to be signing checks from a lot of people, it makes life tough.

  16. Bring on Portland! As a portland native living in Seattle and seeing all the buzz and the excitement of our new club, the Sounders FC, I would love to have another I-5 rivalry.
    I know the Timbers fans have always been loud and loyal and I feel it would be great to bring the powerhouse of the MLS to the PNW.

  17. Tim K. You have no idea what you are talking about re: Texas teams. San Antonio would be a great market for MLS: (1) big TV market; (2) little other big sports competition; and (3) large hispanic population that enjoys soccer. Assuming that that Dallas is a “failure,” then the success of the Dynamo in Houston completely balances it out.

  18. i think it is important to consider the locations of potential stadiums.

    the mls model is experiencing a shift towards SSS (or stadia in general) being built closer to CBDs. think toronto, seattle and the potential new houston stadium.

    perhaps there is something there as to why a exurban STL stadium is not as enticing as PDX.

    further, this idea that collinsville is just 4 miles from STL is sort of misleading. having lived in STL, we all konw that the city radiates westward from the mississippi. so if you were going to build a suburban stadium in STL (that would have best access to the suburban money – a la fc dallas in frisco), you would build it on the western edge of the city.

    Congrats VANCOUVER. PDX would be a great addition as well.

  19. I also agree that a lot of people underestimate the Northwest for soccer support and I think we still see the same support as we do in toronto and some GREAT GAMES

  20. I am warming up to Portland and Vancouver. I think its good for the league to have these rivalries and to have the atmosphere they will create.

    If these two get the bids. I still really really want to see a Montreal bid for the toronto rivalry!!!!!! This would be huge for the league. I could care a less about a NYC team or Miami. I am extremely hesitant to Miami just with past support and the struggle for financial support.

    As for St. Louis, no offense but i don’t think the MLS can handle another team like KC and the lack of fan base. Maybe St. Louis would prove me wrong, but i don’t see any flare or excitement that can be created by team from missouri. Just throwing it out there. Hope i’m Wrong

    By the way thats the last thing we need is another Texas team… dallas already sucks at getting fans in the seats.

    Next Bids:

    1. Vancouver
    2. Portland

    3. Montreal
    4. St. Louis?

  21. Too bad Montreal is not in the running anymore or else it would have been Vancouver and Montreal. Toronto FC already have the best support out of any MLS club and the franchise has not gone unnoticed (came 2nd to the Red Sox for North American Club of the Year). Having two more Canadian teams would be very beneficial to the whole continent and the support will be just like it has been in Toronto because of the multicultural society in Canada. Not to mention this would add one team per conference instead of two for the west that is being reported (Portland).

  22. In this economy i think the established markets like Portland and Vancouver off the MLS the best vision of support. STL while being a hotbed of soccer players, how does anyone know who will show up to the matches? Chicago, NY both have huge populations, and large prep soccer populations and still struggle to sell out.

  23. Being from St. Louis, I’m feeling pretty screwed. Seriously, all we lack is a billionaire. Not money, just that one deep pocket. I still stand by passing on a SSS in a soccer town is a bad precedent.

  24. The fact that St. Louis doesn’t ALREADY have a team should be a source of shame for the MLS. The fact that they overlook STL once again is ridiculous.

  25. As a KC Supporter, I am over the StL bid. Portland and Vancouver have been making considerable noise to make their expansion into MLS work. For the strength of the league from a business stand-point, I think Pdx and Van are the right decision. From a soccer and supporter standpoint, The Rivalry will be awesome for the league (& for Canuckistan).

  26. This makes a lot of sense for rivalries as well. Yes, Vancouver is in the Northwest, but it is also in Canada, so their rival will be Toronto primarily. Portland and Seattle will be rivals as well, although their will surely be a rivalry between the three teams.


    Uh, Seattle, Portland and Vancouver have had a three-way rivalry in soccer for decades now. Sure Vancouver is in Canada, and that means some people will pay attention to the Toronto games. But Vancouver is about three hours up I-5 from Seattle. People make the trip. The rivalry is real.

  27. Since the divisions matter so little… why not have 3! or 4, or just finally cut it to 1. I’m still trying to figure out what they will do when we hit 24 teams.


    San Jose





  28. I guess it would be nice to have a team in St Louis, (being that they have a great soccer history), but I don’t have a problem with Portland. The USL team has a good fan base. Of course I would not feel that way if I leaved in St Louis.

  29. ok, he confirms he has an option to buy an MLS franchise at the end of his career and says he intends to make good on that option. interesting. so I guess there will be maybe one more expansion round…

  30. oh, and the Becks interview is on, for those bored to death by this. he talks about being excited to play NY for the first game.

    and I think expansion is done after this round. sorry, Montreal.

  31. Am I the only one who’s wondering if the league is expanding too quickly?

    Posted by: Anthony | March 11, 2009 at 10:10 AM


    No Anthony, you are not the only one. I feel they should put a freeze on expansion after teams 17 & 18 are added. Freeze it for at least 7-10 years. They should not expand to more than 20 teams. I don’t think the league can survive with 30 teams like the other American Leagues. Case in point the old NASL.

  32. I got an idea.

    Move Chivas USA to Portland, and give Vancouver and St. Louis the bids (or do it in any order).

    Either way there’s still too many teams in this league!


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