With the Miami MLS expansion bid officially in its grave, Major League Soccer needs a new favorite to emerge in the expansion race, and sources tell SBI that one expansion city has done just that.
Vancouver has become the new front-runner in the MLS expansion sweepstakes, moving ahead of remaining MLS expansion candidates Portland, St. Louis and Ottawa. According to multiple sources, MLS is on the verge of putting Vancouver's bid up for expansion approval and the Canadian city has become what one source called "a lock" for the 2011 expansion cycle.
MLS is expected announce its 2011 expansion entrants before the start of the 2009 season on March 19th and signs are pointing to Vancouver being one of those entrants.
Why Vancouver? Three major factors are in the bid's favor.
First, the Vancouver bid has the deepest and most financially strong stable of owners among the remaining expansion candidates. With Vancouver Whitecaps owner Greg Kerfoot, former Yahoo executive Jeff Mallett, Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Luczo and NBA star Steve Nash making up the group, the Vancouver bid boasts the prospective owners best equipped to deal with the current global financial crisis.
Secondly, a potential national TV contract for MLS in Canada also adds to Vancouver's candidacy. Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), the parent company of Toronto FC, recently purchased GolTV Canada and is in position to benefit the most from one or two Canadian cities (Ottawa being the other) entering MLS, which would help a national Candian MLS television contract move closer to reality.
Thirdly, Vancouver has the double benefit of being a national rival to Toronto FC, while also being a geographic rival with 2009 MLS expansion club Seattle Sounders FC.
Vancouver has not been approved yet, but the Canadian city is now in the lead and looks to have fewer obstacles in its way than any of the remaining bids.
What do you think of this development? Surprised to see Vancouver move to the forefront? Still holding out hope that Portland and St. Louis will get it together and make the cut? Wondering if MLS will reconsider bringing Montreal back into the mix? Starting to think that MLS just might not expand at all in 2011?
Share your thoughts on Vancouver's MLS expansion chances, and the MLS expansion race in general, in the comments section below.
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I believe that St. Louis should get the bid because one, it has many people who grew up there who currently play and are on the way to playing in the MLS. Two, the club teams like Scott Gallagher, SLYCA and countless others are some of the best in the country. Three, A-B Inbev has stated that they would fund the new stadium. Four, Albert Pujols has supported the team.
well the 5 people will have to read the proposal and the task force recommendation as well as from the person pushing out the proposal before deciding.
We don’t know if all 5 of them has seen task force recommendation yet. One of them is concern that money will be taking away from other places that she doesn’t want it to. She just needs to be informed that is not the case.
I think its possible it’ll pass but we’ll see.
I know I’m biased because I live in St. Louis but we gotta get a team. People always say Portland is “Soccer City USA” but you haven’t seen a soccer city until you’ve come to St. Louis. I’m pretty sure everyone in the area has played soccer at some time in their life. And it’s really competetive. If we did get a team we would have a great youth program because we already have one set up and we already have a completely approved stadium plan for a huge complex. This complex alone will attract fans(400 acres!) And with all of the people who play soccer I’m pretty sure there are going to be people goin to the games. So the “money problem” shouldn’t be too much of a problem if tickets are selling. Plus hopefully in a few years this economic problem will be somewhat fixed. Plus we’ve got Albert Pujols investing! I don’t get what they mean by we don’t have a “big pocket” investor. I know he’s no billionaire but he’s still pretty loaded and he could gain the support of many St. Louis fans. Plus lately they’ve been saying our investors are improving. I don’t know how much but somewhat.
Anyways I think that either Vancouver and St. Louis get a team or they just should hold off on expansion all together. With the current economic crisis it might just not be worth it to take a risk with new teams yet. Plus Portland wouldn’t be that great of a market economically. I’m not saying it wouldn’t work but it wouldn’t be as good as some may think it might be. And Ottowa just isn’t going to get it. Plain and simple. Sorry.
1. This decision should not be made on “balancing the leagues” or who “deserves” a team. MLS is doing well because they’ve made smart business decisions. They should make the decision on two factors. First, who can pony up the money and second, who can create a revenue stream through selling tickets, jerseys, etc. That’s Vancouver and Portland. If they make this decision for the right reasons (financial) then that’s the pair.
2. We already have a derby trophy. It’s called the Cascadia Cup.
The plan passed by the task force is being spun as something positive, but there are conditions including a $37 million dollar funding gap. Please repeat that a few times to yourself. $37 million funding gap.
Furthermore, only 2 city council members say they support the stadium … and that is WITH conditions that have not yet been met by the Paulsons, the senior of which is a white collar criminal. He is a 20% owner in the team, and Portlanders should be absolutely ashamed that they are shilling for this crook.
So, if only 2 council members support it with conditions yet to be met, how in the world do you expect the other 3 to somehow be swayed? The 2 members who say they support it with conditions haven’t even yet been convinced themselves.
Furthermore, this notion that the money is not available for schools is ludicrous. That is all legal mumbo-jumbo. The city council can easily re-define where the money goes, just like they are doing with this plan by earmarking taxes from player salaries to go specifically to pay for the stadium. That is immoral. And it creates this convenient mantra being bandied about that goes like this: “that money isn’t available for schools anyway!” Why doesn’t the city council just get rid of these ridiculous urban renewal zones designed to help rich real estate developers cheat on property tax, and instead funnel that money back to basic services? THAT is the real issue at hand, and one that most Portlanders seem to grasp.
C’mon, people. Have some perspective. I know we are soccer fans, but we are human beings first. The city of Portland is falling apart, and a bunch of idiots are clamoring for another bailout of this snake-in-the-grass family.
Good article, but I believe the sports writer may not be aware of the rivalry history, that Toronto and Montreal have. Its a huge rivalry between the two. Mostly due to the long history of hockey teams and which city feels it is the most influencial city in Canada. So the rivalry between Toronto and Vancouver may become more prominent if Vancouver gets a team, it is certainly not as big as the Toronto, Montreal one. Also, the Whitecaps are not as lily white as they have shown, as a matter of fact they have mistreated some of their youth players in a disgusting manner and if morality is a test to enter into the MSL, I believe they would fail. But since it is business they will propably win out, after all money is money.
VAN would be great. As a SEA fan for the past 15 years I’ve driven over the border for most VAN-SEA matches. I would be great to have an MLS opponent within driving distance again.
if portland so far has “2 for 3 against” the plan all the person needs is to convince 1 person to be for it and it passes
Your stadium plan doesn’t even call for a stadium in St. Louis. It’s based on a large retail area centered around a stadium. The owner doesn’t have the cash. A 3rd team is redundant? Please phone London and tell them having teams nearby each other is redundant. Arsenal/Tottenham? Yeah totally redundant.
@Fabes – Congratulations. I was really impressed with the 12 supporters that came down to watch your team have to get a luck call to beat a college team in PDX. I especially enjoyed hearing the Shittle supporters yelling our chants we abandoned years ago. Have fun with those. Congratulations with reaching close to 400 ECS members by the way. In 4 or 5 years you guys might look like we did in 2003 or so. A*C*E*S
@Ives. You get ESPN to pay for your plane ride I’ll take care of the hotel, the game and the beer. I’m not kidding.
Alright, let’s everyone hate on the Portland bid because you personally like St. Louis’ bid better!
Let’s look at the facts:
1) Ives – and others – are reporting Vancouver is about to get approval for an MLS franchise. It would be very surprising now if the Whitecaps were left out.
2) Portland unanimously passed a task force vote to recommend the MLS. There were conditions, most of which were involved with keeping the AAA baseball team, which would move out of the soccer stadium into a not yet built stadium. The bid does not affect any problems the city of Portland might be having (IE taking money from schools to put into a soccer team) due to the specifics of the bonds the city would issue on behalf of Paulson, who is not a white collar criminal, and who has said he would underwrite the risk to the city (like he has done before).
3) If the city council does not pass the measure in a week, then Portland will almost surely not receive an expansion team. If the council passes the measure, it is very likely they will receive an expansion team. One thing Portland has going for it in this regard is the fact the hard work of many people – from supporters to city officials – over the course of the last six months to make it happen. It’s not simply a guy with money who wants a team in their community – the PDX soccer community is working to try to make it happen.
4) While St. Louis has a stadium plan in place, there are lingering questions over the financial clout of the ownership group which Jeff Cooper has not recently addressed. If Portland’s city council vote passes, Portland will also have a stadium plan in place, meaning St. Louis will lose this advantage.
5) Ottawa faces stadium funding questions which will likely not be answered by the time a franchise is announced.
6) Support for soccer in Vancouver and Portland is well documented through their USL franchises. While St. Louis is important historically to soccer in the United States, and has statistics of indoor soccer support to denote that there is a soccer market there, the city lags behind the two northwest cities in this category.
7) By taking either Vancouver or Portland, but not both, the MLS risks losing a good soccer market through isolation considering the next furthest west USL-1 team is Austin. However, by adding both, the league introduces 3 teams in distinct markets within 300 miles of each other.
While St. Louis does have its pros with the 1950 WC team, the history of support of MISL teams, and the “midwest geographical argument”, Major League Soccer is in business to pick the two teams which will be beneficial to the -league- down the line. The league seems to try to make money first and foremost and seems to get a lot of crap for it – but it’s exactly what it needs to be doing – and picking the two best bids regardless of where they are will help them do that.
Since the Miami farce ended, it is evident that Vancouver and Portland are currently the frontrunners. If Portland’s city council can muster three votes, which seems likely, then it would likely cement these two cities as the next MLS franchises after Philadelphia. If the vote fails, Vancouver is almost certainly in, and it’s anyone’s guess as to what happens next.
So keep hating on Portland if you like, but at least get your facts right.
Correct me if I am wrong, but the task force’s plan calls for the white collar criminal to privately take care of a $37 million funding gap. There are a bunch of other concessions being asked of the white collar criminal, on top of the funding gap issue. So, yes, they unanimously approved a plan … but we have yet to hear back from the white collar criminal if he is willing to abide by that plan.
Also, it is common knowledge that only 2 city council members are supporting this bid: Sam Adams, the mayor who lied about having sex with an under-age boy and who has been asked to step down even by the local gay political lobby, and Randy Leonard who is only concerned with the baseball stadium going to Lents which is the district he represents. On top of that, both of these council members want to get more private concessions. That’s only 2 out of 5, and with a bunch of pre-conditions that have yet to be met.
Garrett, what’s wrong with being a Portscum hater? All the cool kids are doing it. Portscum isn’t Soccer City, USA, because you don’t get to nickname yourself. The rest of the country names you, and that’s why anybody who knows soccer history pre-MLS knows St Louis is Soccer City (and they have a pretty bad-ass Mardi Gras). Portscum, on the other hand, already has a nickname given to them by the rest of the country: Portsum, Septic City USA.
And as for your 8500 seats, just because you are drunk and passed out in 3 seats and covered the 4th with barf doesn’t mean 4 seats are sold.
you do not know how the city will vote. The task force recommended the plan 18-0.
If anyone like me is old enough to remember the old NASL you can rest assured that Portland and Vancouver is perfect for MLS.
Those rivalries between San Jose, Portland, Seattle & Vancouver were fantastic and I cannot wait for them to be renewed in MLS
Unlike the NASL we now have larger supporters clubs and travelling fans so these old rilvaries will bring out fans like never seen before in US Soccer.
“note to mls: the best way to keep soccer on the margins of the american sports world would be to expand exclusively to the northwest and canada. it should be little surpise to anyone, specifically those living in the northwest, that the sports media has little time for the left coast.”
For too long the MLS has been influenced by East coasters who must have thought the PNW was part of the Alaska panhandle.
MLS knows there is potential here. Potential for FULL stadia -without Beckham.
Adoring fans from before your time
“St. Louis is larger than Portland by far. Also, Portland is totally redundant in the PNW if Vancouver gets in. Why put a third team up there in a small city when MLS could have a team in St. Louis filling out the Midwest? People from all the surrounding states support teams from St. Louis.
Did you know that the island of Puerto Rico has more people than all of Oregon?
Portland soccer support is an overblown myth. St. Louis would easily surpass whatever support Portland could muster in MLS. And their city council still has to approve the stadium deal. So far, there are only 2 council members out of 5 who say they will approve the deal IF the white collar criminal will make more financial concessions. And it’s likely the white collar criminal will walk away because the city asked for too much. Seriously, what’s up with this small set of soccer fans in Portland? Your city is closing schools, most of your populous is really pissed off about this stadium boondoggle, and you have the audacity to try to ramrod this through for the sake the guy who stole 700 billion dollars of federal tax payer money? You should be ashamed.”
Robert… You are high if you even think PDX’s supporters are an overblown myth.
You totally lost me on the Foil hat $700 billion conspiracy theory..
Doesn’t matter if st louis is bigger than portland or not. If the st louis bid lacks proper financial backing the city will not get a team at the time.
At the moment portland has better bid than st louis for a team.
Portland and Vancouver would be better for the league if they were picked. Their rivalry with seattle dates back to NALS days and that type of rivalry is exactly what MLS needs.
Guys, expansion is good for MLS. If you are upset that there might be West Coast or Canadian teams coming into the league, don’t blame those new cities or owners, blame the other East Coast cities and owners for not getting it together.
There will be other chances for NYC, Montreal, Miami, etc.
@ Ives, sorry if I misunderstood that this was more than just a hunch on your part. I don’t disagree that Vancouver (and soon Portland) will have the edge. St. Louis and Ottawa seem to need the most work on their bids still.
note to mls: the best way to keep soccer on the margins of the american sports world would be to expand exclusively to the northwest and canada. it should be little surpise to anyone, specifically those living in the northwest, that the sports media has little time for the left coast.
gotta be st louis, a market with an approved stadium deal. i can’t watch anymore soccer games on turf. it is embarrassing.
and about the comment on st. louis joining the usl if not selected, you can scratch that thought. no way the stadium will get built without the mls franchise.
St. Louis is larger than Portland by far. Also, Portland is totally redundant in the PNW if Vancouver gets in. Why put a third team up there in a small city when MLS could have a team in St. Louis filling out the Midwest? People from all the surrounding states support teams from St. Louis.
Did you know that the island of Puerto Rico has more people than all of Oregon?
Portland soccer support is an overblown myth. St. Louis would easily surpass whatever support Portland could muster in MLS. And their city council still has to approve the stadium deal. So far, there are only 2 council members out of 5 who say they will approve the deal IF the white collar criminal will make more financial concessions. And it’s likely the white collar criminal will walk away because the city asked for too much. Seriously, what’s up with this small set of soccer fans in Portland? Your city is closing schools, most of your populous is really pissed off about this stadium boondoggle, and you have the audacity to try to ramrod this through for the sake the guy who stole 700 billion dollars of federal tax payer money? You should be ashamed.
I think they are making a mistake expanding beyond Philadelphia, at this point. If I were MLS, I’d keep 16 teams for a few years, let the talent pool develop, let salaries rise, etc, reinstate the reserve division. Then, you can expand to 18 teams or so.
MLS will select 2 of the cities that have the strongest bids. Vancouver is a given. Portland just needs to approve the soccer plan. Not sure how strong st louis’ bid is compared to Van and portland.
Vancouver is a very solid candidate and I have no qualms about them getting an expansion franshise.
However, I agree with the commentators and MLS should not expand for the sake of expansion. Economic times are clearly brutal and an expansion of fee of $40 Million without David Beckham in the league is absolutely ridiculous. With Beckham in the league full-time, I think it’s quite fair.
Additionally, for the long term finanical viability of this league a second team in New York is needed (whether fans want to admit that or not) and the league should be patient for economic conditions to improve before expanding beyond 16 teams.
In the big picture sense, the whole David Beckham to AC Milan fiasco (and league failure in the CONCACAF Champions League) has proven that league should focus on improving the quality of the existing teams before expanding. The quality is just not there right now and probably won’t be there until economic conditions improve.
there’s a decnet geographical balance to the league right now:
WEST Midlands EAST
CUSA KC Toronto
LAG Houston NE
SJ Chicago NY
Seattle Dallas DC
Vancouver? St Louis? Columbus
Adding Vancouver AND St Louis next would help keep that balance, but this issue and what the latest expansion does to the state of the USL are both unlikely to have a big impact on the final decision. If the Portland franchise don’t like the situation they’re left with they’ll either find a solution for the last round of expansion or they won’t. that being said, i do agree that moving that 3-way rivalry back into the top tier of north american soccer is or should be the long term goal.
Clearly Portland is the best available market to expand in. Their fan base is 2 to 3x stronger than Seattles or Vancouvers.
Personally, I think the Rose City should get the nod. St. Louis?!??! Do we really need to teams in Missouri?!?!?
St. Louis is the obvious other choice if Vancouver is the top pick of MLS, at least in terms of the the soccer market and pairing an “Eastern” US team with Vancouver. Whether the actual bid from St. Louis is actually strong enough is another matter that only MLS knows right now.
The unfortunate thing about the lost Miami bid and the floundering Montreal bid is that unless MLS wants to go past 20 teams (doubtful for the forseeable future) and as long as MLS is committed to two conferences with even teams, that leaves only one Eastern slot left after 2011. Portland would seem to have the inside track for the 10th Western spot. But two of Ottawa, Miami, and Montreal may be left out in the cold for a very long time.
So are we going to 24 teams, or 30, or will MLS stop at 20 until at least the next US-hosted World Cup has been played? Will we keep out someone like Miami until 2019 or 2023?
MLS has all but confirmed that it’s Portland and Vancouver. Done and done.
St. Louis doesn’t have the money to cover operating costs going forward, and MLS more or less crossed them off the list a couple months ago.
RE: Robert: “St. Louis is bigger and has a much deeper tradition of soccer support, while Portland is a smaller mid-tier city aching for attention that resorts to empty wanna-be slogans such as “soccer city, usa”, a claim that St. Louis rightfully deserves out of all American cities.”
1) What history of professional soccer support in St. Louis? What pro team has it supported in the last 10 years?
2) St. Louis is bigger? Portland and St. Louis are virtually identical in both Metro Area population and in TV Market area. What’s more in 5 years, if current growth trends continue, Portland will pass up St. Louis in both those areas.
3) Several business studies have found that the St. Louis area is seriously overstretched as far as being able to support another pro sports teams, while these studies have found Portland to be one of the best markets to locate a new sports team.
It really does get tiring to read these ignorant comments about Vancouver and Portland somehow being “small” markets. How about actually being informed and updating your knowledge from your provincial outdated impressions.