Top Stories

Garber reaffirms Miami, Atlanta as expansion favorites

MLS expansion


If there was one main thing to take away from MLS commissioner Don Garber’s 2013 State of the League address, it is that the league currently has its expansion eyes fixed on the southeast.

Speaking to reporters and fans inside the Google offices in New York City, Garber once again reaffirmed the notion on Tuesday that MLS is currently hoping to add more teams to the southeast in an effort to enlarge the league’s national footprint. MLS recently announced that it would return to the south with the expansion unveiling of Orlando City SC, but one team is not enough to satisfy the league’s desire and that is why Miami and Atlanta are being looked at as serious contenders to land future clubs.

Garber stated that neither market was close to being officially announced by the league, but that progress was being made.

“We are in discussions with potential ownership groups in Miami and Atlanta, who will give us some great rivalries in the Sun Belt to match those that we have in the northeast, midwest and Pacific northwest,” said Garber, who earlier this year said three of four upcoming expansion teams were spoken for. “As I’ve said before, we hope to have 24 teams by the end of the decade. In order to do that we need to expand strategically and we’ve got a big chunk of the country that is not covered. That’s the southeast. We hope to be able to achieve that with Atlanta, with Orlando, and in Miami but a lot of work to do in Atlanta and Miami.”

Miami has been at the front of of expansion talk in recent weeks and months, with global icon and former player David Beckham touring the South Florida city on multiple occasions to check out potential stadium sites and speak with parties interested in joining his ownership group. It was reported last week that Beckham is interested in building a potential soccer-specific stadium in PortMiami, which is located in the downtown area of the city.

Garber revealed that he, too, has spent “a lot of time” in Miami recently, though he has done so quietly and discreetly in an effort to avoid media attention. Garber has spoken to local leaders in the city, but said that MLS will not do anything in the market that many observers view as tricky until a stadium plan is finalized.

“We’re making progress in Miami with David Beckham and his partners,” said Garber. “We are mindful of the challenges that we had in Miami when the league had the Miami Fusion, we’re mindful of the challenges that have existed in that market throughout soccer history. That being said, we look at what Relevent Sports and (RSE Ventures CEO) Matt Higgins and the guys at the (NFL’s) Dolphins have done with their international friendlies and, frankly, they’re largely successful, they’re doing a great job, and they’re proving that that market is changing.

“The Miami today, demographically, socially, politically, is very different from the Miami of 2002 when we folded the Miami Fusion. We believe Miami could work if we get the right stadium situation – we don’t have that yet – and if we’re able to get David and his potential partners to come together and create the kind of ownership group that would rival the ownership groups that we have, from a commitment perspective, in Major League Soccer. That is still to be seen.”

Garber discussed Miami at length, but refrained from touching on the subjects of if Beckham has a deadline by which he has to make an announcement by and if such a deadline could be extended.

As for Atlanta, Garber stated that MLS is keen on landing a club in the Georgia capital and that the league has “finalized” a stadium situation with Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank.

A new 65,000-seat stadium for the Falcons is expected to be opened in 2017 and Garber mentioned that a unique downsizing technology could be used in order to make room for an MLS club. Garber said MLS still needs to continue to work with Blank to see if a soccer project makes sense for the Home Depot co-founder, but is encouraged by their recent discussions and hopes to finalize something in the not-too-distant future.

“Atlanta, we are making progress with our discussions with Arthur Blank and the Atlanta Falcons,” said Garber. “Arthur’s been to a number of big events, very quietly. That’s kind of the way we like to do these things when we’re going through this process. Atlanta is a very changing market demographically. It’s a big market.

“We need to be in the southeast for all the reasons that I’ve mentioned and I think if we can continue to advance our discussions positively with Arthur and the Falcons, we hope to be able to get a situation finalized so that could potentially be our second team. Orlando being the first, maybe Atlanta or Miami would be the second or the third.”

If both Miami and Atlanta are to gain entrance into MLS as many are expecting, only one remaining expansion slot would be left to fill. Garber hinted that MLS may decide to continue to expand beyond the 24 teams they hope to have by the end of the decade, but said there are multiple cities currently in contention for that final spot and that an ownership group and downtown stadium would be key in securing it.

“That only leaves us a couple of extra spots if we are going to stop at 24 (teams) by 2020 and there are a number of other markets that we don’t have teams in that are large swaths of the country. The midwest is one of them, that’s why we’ve thrown Minneapolis out. There are a number of cities in Texas which are intriguing to us. San Antonio is one, Austin is another.

“St. Louis is a market that, again, that same group of soccer promoters have done a great job selling out big events. It’s the birthplace of soccer in America from what I’ve been told. I live in the same town as (St. Louis native and former baseball great) Yogi Berra. Whenever I run into him all he wants to do is talk about soccer and never about the Yankees. St. Louis, it could be another great market.”


  1. One measures a “great sports town” by looking at their attendance and TV ratings during a losing season. Any winning team can attract fans, but who’s really there when the chips are down?

    Have we seen anything to suggest that the people of Miami & Atlanta will show the kind of backbone we’ve seen with Toronto and Metro?

  2. Only $20 million invested in the academies? This should be MLS and US Soccer’s number one priority. Just ask Germany and Spain…

  3. Thumbs down on Atlanta, for a litany of reasons I have already mentioned on several threads here. It has always been a dicey sports market. I still contend that football and baseball are king in Georgia, with basketball a distant 3rd. Soccer would be a very distant 4th.

    • Atlanta is a horrendous sports town. However, in most of the country baseball and football are king, with basketball third so that’s not really unique to Atlanta.

  4. SO MLS is “targeting” 3 NASL markets and just outside a 4th (Ft. Laud and Miami) for expansion. Big surprise, they have been trying to rape and pillage the 2nd division for years instead of building their product under the strength of their own brand. But yeah, they and USSF clearly support the building of a strong lower division.

  5. Atlanta? A big maybe..Miami? Not a chance, they’ve had numerous chances going all the way back to the NASL days of the 70’s, none have ever panned out. What makes anyone think it can happen now? In an area (southern Florida) that has trouble supporting mainstream sports franchises? Even the champion Miami Heat are late comers at games who are more interested in the celebrities that show up then watching basketball and (sell outs or not) rarely fill their arena.

  6. First of all, Arthur Blank has been talking about a MLS team in Atlanta for about 5 years. It’s not just some side plan for our new football stadium. Atlanta always gets a bad rep when it comes to fan support. For what? Because we lost the Thrashers? Is that it? They left because of owners who refused to support the team, and didn’t want them in the first place. The hawks attendance is league average with a crappy team year in and year out. Put a good team on the court and see what happens. Falcons put butts in the seats and have forever. The braves are always supported too.

    Here’s the rankings by league for attendence.

    Falcons: 13th (In a 3-9 season)
    Braves: 13th
    Hawks: 25th (baseball and football have ended, now attendence will pick up. It does every year)

    Soccer is a huge sport here. Youth leagues are abundant. After the big 3, soccer is right there.
    Atlanta fans get a bad rap for dumb reasons. I want to here why you all don’t want an expansion team in Atlanta. It will be supported.

  7. Before trying to sell us on more NFL stadium teams how about getting New England out of theirs, NE is a sh!t show and Kraft has destroyed MLS’ credibility on this topic.

  8. I like how the Miami expansion plan is building up, but am very wary about Atlanta. In Miami, you know that Becks and his team are focused on MLS. For Blank, this is just a side plaything to squeeze a little more revenue out of his new Falcons stadium. “Downsizing technology” equates to trying to use curtains to make the stadium look smaller from the inside, which IMO does not work at all. And no downsizing technology in the world can make up for turf. I agree with the posters who say that Atlanta is looking like a huge step backwards for the team. It sounds like Garber just wants to get to 24 at all costs ASAP.

  9. What the hell does Raleigh and the Carolina rail hawks have to do to get some respect and play in this expansion discussion? They have built that team from the ground up and have already expanded their stadium beautifully to 10K. This city is soccer mad, very affluent and the team would be embraced as THE major league team in the city. If they want demographics NC is the 8th most populous state now. I just don’t get it. Put the teams where they will be appreciated (like Orlando they have proven themselves) not in Atlanta one of the worst cities for fan support in the country.

    • Oh and I say that as a resident of Charlotte as much as I would love and I dream about getting an MLS team here one day I admit freely that Raleigh is a fantastic site for expansion.

      • It needs to be Charlotte due to the size of the metro area/media market. Unfortunately, Raleigh has the far more successful team of the two cities.

      • Garber’s order of priorities for teams:

        1. Filthy rich owner – preferably associated with an energy drink or oil rich nation
        2. Size of TV market
        3. Location in a swath of the country not already occupied by MLS
        13. Loyal and passionate fan base

      • you want him to choose franchises based on loyal fans? fans are fickle and should hardly be taken seriously in the first place. to base the future of a humongous business on the “loyalty” of a couple thousand losers would be a huge mistake.

  10. a franchise soccer league will never be popular in this country.

    community clubs is the way to go. Follow in the footsteps of Japan. Japan’s football culture has flourished ever since the J-League was founded on the community club principle.

  11. If they add Miami, Atlanta and St. Louis you could have 3 divisions of 8 teams.
    Portland, Vancouver, Seattle, Colorado, Salt Lake, galaxy and Chivas out west.
    Two NY teams, Toronto, Montreal, New England, Columus, Philly and DC in the North east.
    Third division of Chicago, St. Louis, KC, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Miami and Orlando.
    Only the 3rd division would be playing conference games in 2 time zones.

      • 3 Divisions wouldn’t make sense. How would the playoffs work? If MLS continues to go with an unbalanced schedule, it would probably make sense to stick with 2 conferences. If you wanted to get fancy you could 4 division (2 in each conference).

  12. Let’s table the El Paso argument. The biggest media markets in Texas are Dallas and Houston (already have MLS teams), then San Antonio, then Austin. I’m not saying SA or Austin should get an MLS team, but they should probably get one before other cities in Tx.

    • Exactly, you said it media but not soccer crazy since Dfw and Houston are huge cities but El Paso tx is a hidden gem for soccer and quality of life, it doesn’t snow that much, it’s sunny year round, it does get windy and we only get about 8 inches of rain a year but we not super hot or muggy. We have similar California weather and I’m not lying.
      Have you heard about the El Paso patriots, since 1989.

    • Sounds like Garber wants to move to the European calendar some day. Seems counterproductive to expand further north when so many southern cities are chomping at the bit.

  13. Very exciting times. I can’t count how many times my friends and I have the conversation about expansion. What I would like to see (as a Fire fan) is more rivalries. Seattle vs Portland has been amazing for the league.

    I think St. Louis would be great for both SKC and Chicago.

    I wonder if RBNY and NYCFC will turn into a fierce rivalry as well.

    Maybe Sacramento Republic buy out the Chivas USA franchise?

    I would like to see St. Louis, Minneapolis, Indy XI and Miami be added.

    Also, unless these new teams can guarantee Seattle sized crowds, a soccer specific stadium should be a must.

    • sacramento republic looks like it will be solid. 11,500 “likes” on facebook is impressive. Chivas USA, for comparison, has around 9,000. we’ll see what happens but it seems like a solid start. plus, the crest and colors are sick.

  14. If they can make Atlanta and Miami work – great, but given their track records I am very skeptical. I think the other cities mentioned would be much better – even those not considered, like El Paso (I think this would be great).

    • El Paso tx was promised a SSS about 15 years ago by city council, since they broke down our El Paso patriots soccer stadium in order to expand the city zoo. Then our El Paso patriots moved to a 12000 high school stadium and was hitting easily 10000 heads a game but then they started to struggled with money and everything went down, and the team went to the PDL.
      By the way, El Paso tx wand Albuquerque are rivals in everything, and east texas hates west texas, which El Paso tx is far west texas. Let’s do it NASL or USL pro

  15. With all respect to MLS fans, we need to open our eyes and look at reality.
    By 2026, MLS will have 28 to 26 teams with east and west conferences and Im pretty sure with the international calendar. Not only that, MLS will have warmer markets and better stadiums, hopefully with real roof cover and heated fields and drainage. Adding to that, I see some sort of punishment to MLS teams with bad seasons in order to start promotion and relegation.
    Maybe, NASL which is second division will obviously expand to 20something teams and add west and east conferences. If NASL adds west and east conferences, then we can start a simple promotion and relegation system, ONLY INVOLVING NASL TEAMS BUT NOT RELEGATING MLS TEAMS.
    We need to open our eyes, MLS will grow to 26 to 28 teams by 2026 because USA is a big country, with enough soccer markets. I also wouldn’t doubt that MLS changes it’s name in 10 years.
    What we need to worry about is that MLS and NASL need to start working together on the expansion of soccer.
    In final thoughts, expansion in the east is crazy but in the west it doesn’t have many options, unless Vegas,Phoenix,Tucson, San Diego, Albuquerque, San Antonio, Austin, Sacramento, okc, get deep pockets. But for sure the east will have more than enough to pick from.

    • I don’t think MLS will switch to the international calendar, Garber pretty much made that clear when taking about Toronto playing games in January. Also MLS doesn’t want to, and shouldn’t, compete with NFL , and especially College football, in the Southeast.

      • doesn’t it already compete with football considering the end of the regular season and the playoffs are smack dab in the middle of football season?

    • I am a big proponent of promotion/relegation, because it rewards merit, encourages teams to put better product on the field and punishes incompetence. However, if you introduce a “real” promotion/relegation system, it has to apply to every team in the league. Otherwise, it will be the same old entitlement system that protects bad managers/owners (e.g. Chivas). Perhaps you could soften the blow for the MLS owners who “bought into” the league by refunding the fee they paid, if their team gets relegated.

    • Let’s not forget that MLS/NASL is a “busness”. The league puts on games to make $. No owner will build a stadium (with public $) with real roof cover, heated fields and drainage only to be “relegated” due to one bad season on the field. Even if it’s only NASL teams.

  16. With such lousy salary cap and bizarre DP rules : Miami is a bad market for MLS!

    I rather have Atlanta or San Antonio over Miami.

    Note : I live in South Florida, in Broward County.

    • DP rules will probably be loosened before 2020, and the salary cap will certainly go up. We’re already at a place where LA, SEA, PDX and NYRB would snatch up a 4th DP in an instant. It’s only a matter of time before the league loosens restrictions to make that happen.

      • I am not talking just adding more DPs, but increase pay without being DPs. Gonzalez isn’t deserving DP status but deserves a raise, it kills what a DP should add to league (performance level, marketing, TV renueve, jerseys sell etc…).

        Montreal could be only MLS team could draw a crowd in South Florida, there’s no big names in MLS teams to attract snobby South Florida’s soccer fans.

  17. If Minneapolis got a team I would be a season ticket holder from day one. The Youth program is thriving, and with the new Vikings Stadium breaking ground today, it would make perfect sense. Zygi is crooked enough to figure out a way to fund it (or have the taxpayers fund it!)

    Make it Happen – Twin Cities FC

    • If Minneapolis got a team it would most likely mean that Minnesota United FC of the NASL will get “promoted” to MLS. I don’t see two soccer teams in Minneapolis, so I doubt MLS goes there to add a brand new team, they’ll just take United.

      BTW: support the team you already have because it will help them make the case they deserve to be in MLS

      • If I remember right, a provision in the new Vikings stadium deal states that the Vikings ownership has first dibs on a Minnesota MLS club in their downtown stadium. So if MN United FC were to be “promoted,” it would have to be in a collaboration with the Vikings owners. That or they create a new, separate club which would likely choke support for MNUFC. Either way, I agree. Not sure two clubs can survive at this point in time.

        A side note: MNUFC attendance averages doubled from last year to this–it’s first under new ownership. (Even if it wasn’t impressive compared to some MLS standards… yet.) They’re on track to do something similar again next year (with improved season ticket sales, etc.). The club is generating good support, and a soccer culture is being developed very well in Minnesota.

    • Ha!!! Grass in Minny in the winter. Christ man, I think they can talk to UM about what surface works best since it looks quite nice in their brand spanking new football stadium

  18. Instead of hearing about expansion, I want to know what in the hell they are going to do about the Chivas USA issue (and the cluster that NYCFC is going to be).

      • Because Sheikh Mansour FC will be playing in Yankee stadium for years. And in case you haven’t noticed, Yankee stadium is not exactly in a convenient location.

      • Where do you live that Yankee Stadium isn’t convenient? Metro North, the D and the 4 train all pull up next door to the stadium. It actually is just as easy, if not easier than the Red Bulls. Next argument please…

      • In my opinion, its not that Yankee Stadium isn’t convenient, its that I think that by playing in a baseball stadium for however many years, they are going to kill off their fan base before they form.

      • Yankee Stadium and Red Bull Arena are pretty much equally good or bad as far as location goes. People pretending that Yankee Stadium is tough to get to are just as bad as people who lie about how hard it is to get to Red Bull Arena.

        Exception – they both suck if you’re from Brooklyn or Long Island

      • I think they’re equally inconvenient from most of the city although it obviously depends on where you live. People go on about how you need a team in NYC but this is no different than RBNY, it’s not like you have a stadium smack in the middle of Manhattan or something.

        So given how RBNY have struggled somewhat with attendance I don’t see any reason why NYY FC will do any better.

  19. Garber seems to really want Atlanta and Arthur Blanc to workout, but not having a soccer specific stadium, and using “downsizing” technology, is a deal breaker for me. If MLS wants another success story they should be searching for an ownership group in St. Louis, The original soccer city. KC vs. STL, arguably the two biggest soccer cities, would be a joy to watch.

    • I’m actually pretty excited about downsizing technology.

      New technology that lets stadiums morph into different forms for different events would be an awesome American innovation. The other invention needed is a non-paint technology for field lines that can seamlessly shift from throwball to footy and whatever else. Tiny LEDs or fiber optics woven into field turf. Some geeks at Google Amazon or Microsoft need to get on this . Please install at the CLink ASAP.

      • Not me

        Blank needs to buy the atlanta braves stadium and convert it into a soccer stadium since the braves are moving,,,,

        Biggest complaint is the ghetto area around it,,, demolish the surrounding bull @#$%

      • That last idea….ATL would be daft not to talk with Blank and an ownership group and work out a sweet heart of a deal for him. That stadium is just going to be a pain in the arse for most around. It would be cool, try to salvage some seats, donate for high schools and such and make a huge goodwill campaign out of it.

      • I think the whole idea is to fill the new stadium’s calendar, MLS is convenient because Garber looks at the dollars not the venue.

  20. Unless there is research showing genuine interest, you don’t “need” to be in the Southeast. You “need” to be where real data, or at least history, shows that there is some ground-level support. Baseball thought it “needed” to be in Miami, and even with a great new stadium, the fans don’t come.

    • Couldn’t agree more. So much is emphasis is put on being in the Southeast, but the southeast hasn’t proved, except for Orlando, that they deserve MLS teams.

      • Expansion does not really help TV ratings without a better product to put on the screen. In fact, considering how low MLS ratings are currently, it’s possible that TV ratings may be adversely affected by the number of people attending matches in new markets if the overall pool of TV viewers doesn’t grow.

      • expansion puts money in the teams’ pockets, so they can field a better squad, which will impress people watching on tv more. that is how expansion helps the league. As Garber has said, they are not just expanded to add teams, or to go after easy money. They have a plan for reinvestment and growth. This plan has been working magic over the last 5-10 years and could bare some major fruit soon. Stopping now would be like accepting the current state of the league as good enough.

    • True that. Every time an existing USL/NASL team has made the jump another one replaces them and every level of US Soccer gets better. Also i am more of a fan of the cities w/o tons of major league sports already.

  21. Does Texas really need three teams? Every time I see Houston or Dallas on TV it is striking how empty the stands are, especially Dallas

    • Basically El Paso tx is soccer city of texas, but since we r far west in texas, we don’t get exposure and we r treated as the armpit of texas but we sure can handle an MLS team.
      As for El Paso tx, it has soccer every where, we eat and drink soccer.
      As for San Antonio, that would be nice, but Austin sounds more interesting but it depends who will get a downtown stadium first, however San Antonio went to fast and made a stadium outside downtown.
      But el Paso tx is gold for soccer and this is I rank the soccer cities texas.
      El Paso
      San Antonio
      Austin but Austin is a hipster city n sounds like the northwest

      • El Paso should be in the mix for a team. Forget the typical markets that worked for NFL, NBA, and MLB, and go where you will be appreciated.

      • El Paso has a history of supporting mediocrity teams. Our local university of Utep, averages about 25,000 for the sucky football team. The utep men’s basketball team averages about 10,000, even though they are kinda always losing.
        Also, El Paso is about to get a downtown triple A baseball stadium which for sure we will support. We are also getting a new arena and hotels and stuff all around downtown.
        In reality El Paso is doing it on its own, since the I repeat, most cities of texas don’t give El Paso a good image for anything.
        El Paso is a hidden gem for business and sports and quality of life, of course cities like San Antonio, Dfw, Houston, Austin don’t gives us corporate offices or company headquarters since they are afraid El Paso will steal their economy.
        For instance, San Antonio stole from El Paso tx the sea world and six flags idea and other big companies in 1980s, but nobody knows that. Did anyone travel to Austin in the early 1990s, it was not that great. Dfw is an immigrant created city, just like Houston. El Paso deserves so much respect and money from the state.

      • I think El Paso also appeals to us here in Albuquerque. I personally would make the drive down for several games if El Paso landed a club. Big demand in this area. We had 12,000 for a friendly between the Rapids and Santos Laguna last summer.

      • When our sister city across the border,Juarez chihuahua had division one mexican soccer, know as ligaMX now. Most season tickets were from El Paso tx and fans from las cruces and Albuquerque New Mexico came all the way to Juarez chihuahua for games.
        Similar to the San Diego Tijuana thing, but Juarez is super close to El Paso tx.

      • Rich owner and stadium plan and it would be in the mix…like anyone would. “Should” is a relative term.

        I should be retired with millions and a super hot harem of woman at my beckon call. That should be the case.

      • Hidden gem of soccer and capital of the best mexican food in the US, not texmex food but real mexican food. We r getting triple A baseball next year and the old baseball stadium is not going to get broken, wink wink at u NASL or MLS or uslpro.

      • Triple A baseball is good for getting MLS, just ask us Timbers fans;-) Love the passion, good luck man! Fight the good fight and I think NASL would be stupid to not attempt it.

    • IMO, Texas’ population size and demographic mix warrant a third team. California has three teams – and if not for Chivas’ incompetent ownership, all three would thrive in a state of nearly 40 million – so I can’t see why Texas couldn’t do well with three teams as well.

      • The Hunts boys finally have just one team and are starting to concentrate on it. The situation should continue to get better now. Get Oscar clean and Houston will be fine again.

    • San Antonio’s a good soccer town. The Scorpions get great support, and I’m not sure (really, I don’t know if this is common or not) if this is a thing around NASL teams, but there are two active and impressive supporters’ groups (the Crocketeers and Bexar County Casuals). The Stadium is nicer than BBVA imo, and on top of all that, the idea of “Soccer for Cause” could be a great addition to MLS.

      • I personally think that San Antonio is the right choice here. As a Dynamo supporter, and native Houstonian, the rivalry btwn Houston-Dallas-SanAntonio would be huge! But come on, lets be honest with ourselves…the Scorpion Stadium is nicer than BBVA?? Scorpion stadium resembles some of the high school football stadiums here in Texas.

      • It’ll be interesting what the open market and the free expansion of the NASL (there’s NASL teams popping up everywhere right now, with no end in sight) does to the landscape over the next 10-15 years. The Cosmos going NASL is extremely interesting.

        It might well occur to many other potential ownership groups that spending that $100 million is unnecessary and can better be spent on players and stadia, especially if they have deep enough pockets and want to spend whatever they care to spend. It’ll be easy enough for the Cosmos, in future years, to undercut MLS on young players…the best rookies get those $150,000 Gen Adidas contracts and have to enter the MLS Superdraft. All the Cosmos have to do is come in at the $250K range per player – and they could get the top ten college players in America every year if they cared to, at a total price tag of just $2.5 million…way less than some teams spend on a single DP at the moment. Then they could just go hunting the MLS clubs in the US Open and CONCACAF Champions league.

        Some other big-money ownership group in NASL starts doing that, and hey, it’s a rivalry. And all of a sudden NASL starts looking more and more like a direct competitor to MLS, not just a Tier 2 league.

        I think that’s coming. Be interesting to see how MLS adjusts, and adapts…but soccer in this country is not going to be confined to just MLS, in the next decade.

  22. I generally like the direction of the league over the last ten years or so but playing in an NFL stadium in the worst sports city in America sounds like a step backwards to me. Surely, there are better expansion candidates than Atlanta and Miami if MLS must expand.

    • Everyone seems pretty excited about Beckham and Lebron though. So MLS can count on at least those two and their entourages and beckham and lebron fans showing up to Miami games.

      • I don’t know if I believe this argument. Beckham and Lebron aren’t going to be playing. Sure, it will shine some extra spotlight on the team but I don’t think the fact that they have a stake in the club is going to mean anything when it comes to ticket sales.

        Now, if they (especially beckham) can help attract some big names, that would be great and definitely help. But, if there is an expansion team in Miami, I don’t think it will be difficult for Beckham and Lebron to sway too many folks to move to Miami and get paid, the city will sell itself to the players.

      • I pretty much agree with you Fabian. I’m saying that Becks and Lebron are worth only so much in fan support. Miami has proven that if a team doesn’t win then fans don’t show up. Miami will attract players and especially international players but lets not confuse that with a winning culture (not that you are).

        Supporter culture and winning culture can take time to develop. Just because Beckham is the owner doesn’t mean he can go through some new franchise drive through and order the same thing the Portland timbers have developed for his clubs first year.

    • You are missing out on this point — at this point, nobody cares if atlanta will put butts in the seats. The only thing that matters is if Atlanta can field a team that plays nice soccer that people will watch on tv. Of course attendance matters some, but not nearly as much as tv viewers. Anyway, the bottom line is that Arthur Blank is ready to invest in the game, so why not let him contribute?

      • hence why I said that attendance isn’t a complete non-factor, but it does not need to average 30k per game to be a success. If Blank will invest in players and create a good brand that resonates with people watching on tv, that is all that matters. That will also attract people to the stadium — maybe not selling out the Georgia Dome, but enough to make that part of the equation viable.

      • Why would an Atlanta team do anything to boost tv ratings? There are no teams in the south now because people don’t care about soccer there, at least not compared to the rest of the country.

      • In rural areas, still true. No grassroots. Get out of the cities and you’re hard-pressed to find more than a handful of struggling rec teams. Old-time southerners have zero use for soccer, still.

        In the cities…completely false. Youth soccer in southern urban centers – and even in the Research Triangle in NC – is HUGE.

    • Atlanta is basically one big burb. Youth soccer in Atlanta might be the best in the country, period.

      I really like the way Georgia Youth Soccer is set up. They’re not allowed to even form state-level leagues, keep rankings or log scores until U13. From U8 to U12 their “academy” setups are organized as pure rotating friendlies to encourage pool play and discourage the formation of six-a-side and eight-a-side “superteams” that have nothing to do with player development. What you wind up with, there, is very large, very deep player pools, and large groups of kids that have been coached [i]developmentally[/i], not with the intent of achieving state rankings or winning trophies for their clubs and coaches. There’s a reason Georgia Youth Soccer has five distinct tiers of Classic ball, whereas neighboring South Carolina and North Carolina have just two (and are both struggling to establish a third.)

      When Atlanta goes to form its own Academy, they’ll have access to one of the best – if not the best – pools of young players of any team in the country. Especially since they’ll also be drawing players from the likes of Alabama, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

      These states are a little weird – South Carolina, for instance, has good soccer in its three big cities (Greenville, Columbia, Charleston), and anemic soccer everywhere else. North Carolina has some [i]very[/i] good (and very large) clubs coming out of Charlotte, more really big power clubs in the Triangle, and then, aside from Ashville in the mountains, not much else in the state. But Greenville and Charlotte are a straight shot right down I-85 to Atlanta; Greenville’s less than two hours away, and even from Charlotte it’s not much more than a three-hour drive to Atlanta.

      There’s a reason the ACC is by far and away the best soccer conference in college, and it has everything to do with the amount of talent in this corridor. (Consider that tiny Furman University, in Greenville, SC, produced such players as Clint Dempsey, Ricardo Clark, Shea Salinas, and more lately, Walker Zimmerman, and is a perennial Top-25 power, and you start getting the idea.) Clemson University (25 miles from Greenville, even closer to Atlanta) had guys like Gooch Onyewu and Stuart Holden.

      An Atlanta team could absolutely clean up on homegrown products, and given how big soccer is down the I-85 corridor, I suspect they’ll have a surprising amount of fan support too, especially if they get their marketing right and bill an Atlanta team as “the southeast’s team”, as opposed to just an “Atlanta” club. If they’re smart they’ll call it “Southland FC” or some such, and make nice with the big area clubs in a 200-mile radius.

    • how about instead of all this expansion we actually try to fix the broken current teams. Chivas doesn’t need explanation. Revolution need a new owner since Kraft clearly doesn’t give 2 sh*ts and it’s a disgrace they are still playing where they are.


Leave a Comment