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Garber: Miami expansion can’t proceed without downtown venue

Don Garber


Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber knows of the perils that come with playing the game in Miami.

Garber is preparing for the league to embrace David Beckham’s Miami 2.0, but with the demise of one of the league’s early franchises, the Miami Fusion, Garber has seen first hand how easy it is for a franchise to fail in the sunshine state.

With recent setbacks securing a stadium location in Miami, Garber admits that plans for a new franchise in Miami are “back at square one.”

“We cannot go to Miami unless we have not just a viable, but a very, very strong downtown location for a city that will be provided with a Major League Soccer franchise that can privately finance a stadium,” Garber told reporters Wednesday. “To do it with one of the soccer world’s most important and significant icons and to make a commitment to make it one of the better teams, or most important teams, in North America.”

“If I were living in Miami and I was a person that was able to provide levels of support so that we would agree to go there, I would think that that would be a pretty remarkable achievement for anybody,” Garber continued. “If you can’t find the right place to play, it would be suicide for us to go anywhere. And certainly down to Miami where we have failed once before.”

As for turning those expansion efforts north of the border, Garber revealed that the league had no interest in adding more Canadian teams, citing a need for more U.S. based franchises.

“I don’t see that there’s a need for additional cities in the short or mid term,” he said. “We still have many large cities in the U.S. without teams and large portions of the country where you don’t have teams. Right now, expanding to the Western provinces is not a priority.”

However, Canadian fans may be looking at quite the consolation prize, as the league has has preliminary talks concerning holding the 2017 MLS All-Star Game in Montreal.

Garber, who met with Montreal mayor Denis Coderre Wednesday, stated that it would makes sense for the city to host “an event that would be important and worthy of the anniversary of this great city, and also be able to provide a profile for the Montreal Impact.”

The game would coincide with the city’s 375th anniversary, although Garber stressed that talks were “just preliminary.”

What do you think about Garber’s statement on the Miami situation? Where would you like to see the league expand? Would you be excited to see the All-Star Game in Montreal in 2017?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Keeping MLS to Miami in permanent Limbo sounds like a good solution to me. Keeps the 100 or so real soccer fans in Miami from being disillusioned with the league and prevents the Miami market from forming a tumor within MLS.

  2. I will repeat myself again, garber will tell David, take all the time u need, Miami has to perfect in order for Miami to be a successful expansion team. So I guess Miami can end up being #25 team, making the expansion race even crazier than it is now.
    Why would MLS wait and wait for Miami, for sure they will be in but for now MLS needs to concentrate on # 23 and 24 expansion team, which could be, San Antonio, Sacramento, Las Vegas and Minneapolis.
    As a matter of fact, the bad news about Miamis stadium is gold for those cities I mention above, meaning they still got life to join MLS.
    However, the only smart move Beckham can do is play at a temporary stadium like nycfc and Orlando, but first secure the stadium land.
    Oh and and by the way, like I said before, Miami can end up being #25th team, instead of 23 and 24.
    Too bad he can’t buy chivas USA, and make a 15thousand stadium in Santa Monica or Beverly Hills and name it Hollywood fc, that would be epic or even join the cosmos ownership.

    • I enjoy your posts realizing you like to riff / type whatever thought happens to creep into your head but… a soccer stadium in Beverly Hills? Thatsa pretty good one.

  3. Where is it written that MLS has to be in Miami? If Miami doesn’t want a franchise then go elsewhere. The fact that Miami and NY are jerking the league around now is because the league said “We are going to put teams in NY and Miami, please oh please let us” rather than saying “Who wants a team and what can you do for us to make it happen?”

    • Exactly. Garber and Becks lost their leverage and Miami is taking advantage of that. What they need to do is come out and say that Becks has 6 months to find another city under the same terms as his original agreement. Watch how fast the Miami politicians bend over.

  4. I’m not sure if people are following what’s happening in Sacramento, but they are drawing 20k+ game after game, for USL PRO!

    If MLSgoes to Sacramento it’s guaranteed another franchise that’s averaging 25k a game. And it’s 2 hrs from San Jose so there’s a natural rivalry there. Throw in the weather, and you have three reasons why Sacramento is a preferred location to Minnesota, for example.

    Go to Sacramento, MLS. You will dominate that market, you will get a great stadium. There’s no need to now before these foolish politicians that see MLS as inferior to “the big four.” Screw them. Blaze your own trails in markets that actually have a huge natural base of support.

      • and while the first 3 are good for TV viewing, that’s a function of the team. Imagine of they had that level of team success in a bigger TV market. I didnt realize it was as high as 20th though, that’s not so low.

    • Lol. That’s cute. But MLS are smart enough to look behind the numbers. 3 for 1 tickets and such. Sacramento won’t be joining MLS anytime soon. Sorry. But it is good for them to be able to get 20k in a stadium at any price to watch 3rd division soccer, so they deserve some credit.

      • Pablo, actually they haven’t offered any 3 for 1 deals. Ticket prices are rather low, but again 20k+ for USL PRO blows any other market out of the water. For MLS, I think 25k a game is conservative, and could easily be 27-30k.

        Also, the crowds look great. I can’t imagine a Miami or Vegas having the same fan base.

        I don’t live in Sacramento, I’m not a homer. Just a big MLS fan that wants to see the league do well. Miami politicians don’t want MLS and I’m not convinced the fan base would be all that great. I’d much rather have another Portland in the league. Those games look incredible.

    • It depends on how you define market. If you look at Ottawa and Gatineau across the river, then it’s actually bigger than other Canadian cities.

  5. Miami is just not a good idea..even Dolphins support is showing cracks in the face of losing..Heat, U of M, Marlins all see apathetic crowds..why does MLS think they will be any different?

  6. As a Canadian I can honestly say that there isn’t enough support in any other Canadian cities to fill a minimum 20,000 seat stadium on a regular basis. Plus the cold weather is another issue.

  7. I just read this AM about stadium troubles in Miami, thinking it would be about this. It was about the NFL team having trouble getting stadium improvements for their stadium.

    Good luck Golden Balls…..

  8. On the Canadian teams, I think they have a decent spread of Canada and I think they could fit in one more for the Edmonton/Calgary Area. However, I really don’t know that there would be that much demand there. Those 2 cities are neither as close nor as big as one would hope.

    Quebec is an option i suppose.

    • I don’t understand the expansion obsession.

      I don’t understand the need to openly rule out anyone if you are going to expand.

      I don’t understand potentially rubbing Canadians the wrong way by making this kind of statement.

      • Agreed. That comment was unnecessary. There isnt a clear Canadian candidate out there right now but no reason to say that kind of thing.

        All in all it just paints a picture that Gerber dont want to grow the league organically rather he is top-down planning how to capture larger tv markets…

      • I don’t understand your not understanding.

        This is a parity league. Unlike the bizzarre leagues around the world, everyone has a shot of winning, every year.
        IF, IF, IF you are in the league.

        I think the league should be 40-50 teams. If you can make it work financially, be a part. Obviously the league will not want to share TV revs that much, so 30 will probably be more realistic, but more IS better for sure in my mind.

      • How are you going to follow a league with 50 teams? Maybe 40 teams in two divisions with pro/rel would work but I recall you’ve already decided pro/rel is un-American for some reason.

      • The Canadian thing is based on the idea that if too many MLS teams are allowed up there Fifa will eventually say “hey, with just 3 or 4 more cities you can create your own 9 team league. MLS you no longer have a waiver for a 2 country league”.

      • Indeed. Expanding into the Western provinces would lead to just that question from FIFA. And that’s pretty much the subtext of Garber’s argument.

  9. Garber should have called Miami out even more… they are ll still butt hurt by what Jeffrey Loria did to them and the Marlins ball park…

    Becks comes in and says he will finance everything for a few tax breaks on the land and the people say no….dumb

    • Except the franchise was awarded without a stadium when they knew what the public climate was from the Marlins’ debacle.

      I agree with your argument, in the sense that he’s bringing private money and is basically the whipping boy for the Marlins’ mistakes. But this was an iffy choice to begin with and is only worse if siting is becoming problematic. We didn’t need Miami, period, and we surely don’t need what crumbs a poor choice is willing to toss.

      • Miami and Beckham “have” not been awarded a franchise. They “have” to have a stadium in place for Garber to green light a Miami franchise. I thought most people understood this, but more and more people don’t understand this.

      • Forgive me, but I think that’s spin. He’s exercised his franchise option. He’s been awarded a franchise. He wants it in Miami. At that point it’s splitting hairs to say, well, the franchise is not awarded to Miami. In these things, it’s usually awarded to a LLC or Inc. anyway. The city is never “awarded” anything.

        Parse away, it’s spin put in place because they knew this was risky coming in.

  10. They should hold it at Stade Olympique (as long as it is still standing). They would probably have to lay out grass but I think it only gets used for Canadian football.

    • I think they usually play the Impact opener at State Olympique. When the team started in MLS they played the first half of the inaugural season at the O. But I’m with you – I would hope they would lay out some grass for the All Star Game.

  11. Like the tough talk by Don on Miami.

    Very few outside of S FL are in favor of Miami it seems, so if it happens, it needs to be the perfect location. If not, Becks should be forced to take his discount team elsewhere.

      • Besides, has anyone seen Miami Heat games? The fans are so fickle and superficial who the hell wants to watch that?

        Stream every WC match through 3rd parties online
        #BoycottWorldCup #AntiCopa #StopWorldCup

      • Nice of Garber to step up to the plate and have Beck’s back. His argument is a good one, that because of the prior failure of MLS in Miami a downtown stadium this 2nd go-a-around is a must.

      • Yes it is. Business is exactly that and MLS doesn’t need Pouty Lips Beckham like its 2006

        Stream every WC match through 3rd parties online
        #BoycottWorldCup #AntiCopa #StopWorldCup

    • I don’t disagree with him on Miami. I just wish she took the same stance when it came to NY2 (and Atlanta with regards to soccer specific).


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