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MLS eliminates Las Vegas from expansion running

LasVegasStadium_Exterior (FindlaySportsLV)

By CAITLIN MURRAY

Las Vegas will not be joining Major League Soccer any time soon.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber has notified Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman that the city is no longer under consideration for one of the current expansion slots.

“Unfortunately, given the timing of our expansion roll out and the uncertainty as to when we might be able to move forward in Las Vegas, we are no longer considering Las Vegas as an expansion market until after 2018,” Garber wrote in a letter sent Thursday.

The announcement comes as Las Vegas’ city council was in the midst of a battle over how a proposed $200 million stadium would be financed. A key vote was set for next week on a plan for the city to contribute $56.5 million toward the project.

For her part, Goodman expressed disappointment in the decision, but she made it clear Las Vegas hopes to be reconsidered in the next round of expansion.

“Of course I am disappointed that the MLS did not select Las Vegas for an expansion team in the 2017 or 2018 seasons,” she said in a statement. “I still believe our city would be the perfect location for a major league team, and I am saddened that we miss out on the opportunity to gain $450 million in downtown investment and job creation.”

“A team coming here would have been the catalyst for other developments in the downtown. I hope the MLS will still consider Las Vegas for a team beyond 2018.”

With the elimination of Las Vegas as an expansion team, the path becomes clearer for the remaining teams vying for one or two expansion spots.

USL’s Sacramento Republic, NASL’s San Antonio Scorpions, and one in Minneapolis – either through NASL’s Minnesota United or the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings – are still in the running for an MLS franchise.

Garber has announced plans to expand MLS to 24 franchises by the end of the decade, with Atlanta and Los Angeles already assured to have clubs and another in Miami guaranteed if David Beckham’s ownership group is able to secure a suitable stadium project.

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What do you think of this news? Would Las Vegas have been a good expansion city? Who is the favorite to get what appears to be the final unclaimed expansion slot?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. Has nobody noticed Las Vegas has a lower league team which has been drawing “Crowds ” of less than 500? Just like LA Blues in USL No pasion for soccer. Garber is a total ass though & a self centred money raker. Poor old Beckham made to jump through hoops to find or build a downtown stadium in Miami while NYFake Sheik City can play at not soccer specific Yankee Stadium!
    When Miami/Barcelona was on the boil there was no “Must play downtown stipulation!” Joe Robbie Stadium was going to be home> It was built as a soccer stadium to be used 9 times a year by the Dolphins.Garber was happy with that until Barcelona got a new President who chickened out or just did not trust Garber.Cosmos frighten him they have money but are not prepared to bribe him like the Arabs. Beckhams problem is no one told him to bribe the Cuban Mayor & his buddies. Suddenley a 13 year in the planing project at the Port of Miami made an appearance,to scupper Beckhams plans, then a portion of land & docking next to American Airlines Areana home of the Miami Heat became unavailable. Perfect location with parking transport infrastructure virtually in place cosmetic work. $18million to put in land fill not even 500 yards from the Heat!
    Politics Bribery & Corruption.Sport America

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  2. I’m all for some continued expansion – Sacramento, Minneapolis, San Antonio, Indianapolis, St. Louis.. bring it. ~30 teams and MLS can shift to a Argentine Primera División-type model where they play every team once (alternate years home/away) and a few rivals twice a year (H&A).

    Promotion/relegation adds far too much fiscal uncertainty, but the NASL/USL issues need to be resolved. Personally, I’d be fine with NASL disappearing – larger media markets moving to MLS, smaller ones moving to USL and affiliating with nearby MLS teams as seems to be the trend.

    That said, it’s a little worrisome how expansion has been handled recently. In addition to a stadium plan, Miami (even with the largest Brazilian population outside of Brazil) needs to demonstrate a team can generate attendance numbers – Florida generally, and Miami in particular, have consistently poor professional sports attendance. Ft. Lauderdale Strikers (though admittedly 30min+ north of downtown Miami) averaged 3500 fans/game last year. Humidity and sprawl > Beckham.

    New franchises in NY and LA seem more driven by the leagues fiscal state ($100M franchise fee is pretty attractive) than a strategic plan to grow the game. Rivalries already exist for both Red Bull & Galaxy, and local competition isn’t going to help grow those clubs into staple-franchises of the league that you would expect from NY & LA. (Lack of local competition also allows larger local TV deals and stadium expansion.)

    While Garber’s been busy patting himself on the back, if a better TV deal had been worked out (or a competitive uniform contract) the league would not be under the kind of pressure that led to such financially-driven short-sighted growth decisions.

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  3. An MLS team owned and operated by David Beckham will be another transformational for the league……that’s why Garber is giving them ample time. They WILL get it done, it WILL be extraordinary, and it WILL kick things up another notch when he beings in mega stars. Find something else to bitch about.

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    • I hope you are right, but I am going to guess that less than half of that is true. Seattle was transformational. So now Miami is going to ratchet above that ?

      Not gonna happen.

      Good luck, hope you are enjoying MLS soon.

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  4. Set a goal of 32 teams and when you reach it, divide the Country into an Eastern League and Western League. Those teams battle it out amongst themselves exclusively like MLB used to do with the National and American leagues. Have a couple weekends set aside for inter-league games like rivalry games (i.e. RBNY v LAG). Then you can have a playoff with the two league champions playing in the MLS Cup.

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    • Don’t mention the cosmos my friend, you will be attacked by American soccer fans who believe cosmos will be a failure in MLS, even though MLS has historic NASL teams like timbers, sounders, impact, vancouver, earthquakes.
      Hopefully cosmos will give up on NASL and join NASL and red bull disappear because I don’t see 3 New York teams in MLS, unless red bull is sold and rebranded to cosmos.
      This is what I think will happen in New York. Nycfc will be the survivor, red bull will not be sold until their averaging 5k and MLS gets them out and rebranded to empire united or empire metros (something like that) and cosmos will suffer in the NASL until they are sold to USL or just disappear.

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      • “Hopefully cosmos will give up on NASL and join NASL and red bull disappear because I don’t see 3 New York teams in MLS, unless red bull is sold and rebranded to cosmos.”

        Please use some punctuation at some point.

    • Judging by the fans that post here. I am pretty sure most of SBI loyal are VERY against this.

      To the real Cosmos fans, not the MLS haters. Sorry, join me for a beer at a game sometime, my treat.

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  5. Wtf, really and what about Miami Mr.garber. Like I said before, Garber has been so quiet about this expansion race and it’s so obvious MLS won’t stop at 24 but we know any city is ready and will be ready for expansion at any time since USL and NASL are growing.
    Also Garber shouldn’t be a hypocrite and give Miami more time just because it’s Miami and Beckham is his pal.
    Another very important thing, LA2 will not be ready for 2017 but yes for 2018, same thing with Miami. Miami and LA2 will be ready by 2018 and not 2017 unless garber knows so much about their stadium progress.
    In other words, garber needs to let in Sacramento by 2017 with Atlanta and just let LA2 with Miami, what’s so difficult.
    As for Vegas, I think Vegas is a must given that NHL or NBA will get there sooner than later and MLS shouldn’t wait and should go for Vegas.
    Now, if MLS really wants Minneapolis, please don’t go for the nfl stadium, go for a soccer stadium and about San Antonio, yes they deserve to be MLS but their stadium is not in downtown and Austin wants MLS as well and Austin might be their worst nightmare.
    Now for fun and expansion games
    2017= Atlanta, Sacramento and not LA2 until LA2 gets a stadium and not a new LA sharing NFL stadium.
    By 2018 LA2 and Miami should definitely be ready and good to go if they get their stadium and imagine messi and Christiano in one of those teams, mouth watering my friends.
    Then by 2020 Minneapolis and San Antonio or Vegas.
    Next, 2022 which is World Cup year, garber should have 28 teams by adding any city left behind and new expansion sensation, like st.louis, Austin or even Tampa bay.
    But if you ask me, give me 32 teams and that should be the magic number for MLS while NASL should have 24 teams and USL around 45 teams.

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    • Yes the stadium in San Antonio is not downtown, but that means very little really. The people in San Antonio who would pay to go to see MLS game or better yet can afford to go to an MLS game are mostly located right around the stadium. That’s why the guy built it there because it’s close to his other place (Morgan’s Wonderland) and it is closer to the people who would actually go pay to watch it. The Scorpions have a sponsor in Toyota and regularly fill their stadium. They also have plans and land to expand the stadium to 18,000 seats. Anyone who has been to the stadium knows that it’s only about a 20 min drive to downtown to appease Garber and his requirement. Given the Alamodome, River Walk, and other venues downtown, there’s just no way to build a new stadium down there. San Antonio Scorpions can handle what MLS can bring but I think Garber is holding out for the Spurs leadership to put in a bid.

      On a side note, Orlando City FC used to be the Austin Aztex but the ownership group pulled out and moved to Orlando to have a better chance at moving up to MLS. Good call on their part but what does that really say about Austin and it’s chances to pull a team in the future?

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    • yeah, where are the timing issues in Miami.

      That is a weird situation for me. You would think you’d have 23 ( or wherever we are now ) owners saying, done, we tried, sorry it didn’t work Mr. B. But instead they are WAY above and beyond to make it work. Owners $20 million the Golden Balls is paying is LESS THAN $100 million you can get elsewhere.

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  6. Vegas will eventually get their MLS team. A soccer-specific stadium in that town would make a ton of money. Fans would travel from everywhere to watch their local MLS team play there and international friendlies would attract fans from around the world.

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  7. Odd that Garber didn’t give a reason other than “timing”. With no deadline or award about to happen (as far as i know) what does MLS have gain by telling Vegas off?

    Hope LV goes for NASL asap

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      • Okay there is no battle as they don’t have to have a approval to go there. Each league is independent of the other. By the way, it’s just USL now they dropped the Pro.

    • No it isn’t.

      The unspoken truth is there is gambling there and no major sport, ok pro sport, would touch it in a million years.
      Add that to a decimating of the housing market, after decades of growth and they are running out of water.

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  8. I will say this the NASL and USL Pro are going to have an ugly battle over expansion rights in Las Vegas which problem has started right now.

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  9. all the more reason for promotion/relegation. Las Vegas is a city willing to put some $ towards founding a football club. The franchise system is keeping them from doing that. With the club system they could create the team and start playing in a division. They wouldn’t have to worry about $100 million expansion fees (where does that money go anyway?).

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    • This isn’t England. If you like pro/rel follow a team there. But Americans aren’t going to buy what your selling. Soccer fans would but there aren’t enough of them to finance pro/rel. The system is American and so I’d just get used to it or keep banging your head against a wall that isn’t going anywhere.

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      • just pointing out the insanity of the franchise system being used. There is a better system out there. It’s called promotion/relegation. The whole world uses it. Everyone knows pro/rel is a better system except for a small niche of MLS snobs.

      • the insanity is yours my friend for your head banging lack of understanding of the American sports landscape.

        As for what everyone knows is better, I don’t know one MLS fan who wouldn’t be into a pro/rel system, BUT the intelligent MLS fans KNOW it’s an economic impossibility now…only the head-in-the-sand mouthpieces who refuse reality don’t get that. It’s humorous that they actually think they are adding to the conversation when they squat and defend the pro/rel position as if it’s somehow insightful

      • I am a niche of MLS snobs all to myself.

        Pre/Rel is stupid, boring, and many other dumb things.
        But all of that is irrelevant. What is relevant, if I know how to spell it, is IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN….EVER.

        NEVER.

    • Actually, the reason MLS is wandering off elsewhere is the “willing” is not as clear as you suggest.

      Vegas already has the heat and gambling issues so if stadiums and funding aren’t clear, meh, why bother.

      The pyramids people want to imitate are based on century old leagues. There are so many clubs in England or Italy that if Pompey goes into administration or Fiorentina has to reboot, no one barely blinks. But that sort of financial turmoil is part of what happens in pro rel, teams that spend like they’re staying up may end up unsuccessful and broke. If a team screws up it gets demoted out of sight, which gives pro rel people room to hide in terms of the devastation the system can create. But enough teams go into administration or fold — and they give parachute payments acknowledging the struggle — that a still building American soccer scene doesn’t need it.

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  10. If MLS really does stop at 24 for a while, that certainly leaves room for another top level league to compete at a high level, whether existing (e.g. NASL) or something else. Half of the top 25 largest US cities would not have an MLS team, including many cities that support an NFL team and at least one other major sport. Minneapolis and Miami are in the low 40s in terms of size, for example. While other leagues are way behind in virtually all relevant ways, the fact remains that enough large markets would be left untouched that eventual competition is not out of the question (and that’s before you consider second or third teams in the largest markets). After all, it was really less than a decade ago that MLS’s boom began. The NFL has 32 teams, and that’s the number MLS should aim for (two 16 team tables would be nice). If Garber were smart about this, he’d go public with that number now and a short post-2018 timetable and keep dangling expansion to willing big-market prospects instead of cutting them off at the knees (I’m not suggesting that Las Vegas should be in the 32).

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    • “Minneapolis and Miami are in the low 40s in terms of size, for example.”

      I understand your point but you make a bad example. City size isn’t the relevant metric–metro area size or TV market size is much better. Political boundaries are often drawn for various arbitrary reasons. For example, Minneapolis is a small city because of geography and arbitrarily drawn political boundaries–the city is physically small, so most of the population lives in the surrounding cities like St. Paul, Bloomington, etc. The Twin Cities metro area is #14 or 15 in the US.

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      • This. If the Mississippi River didn’t physically divide most of Minneapolis and St. Paul, you would have no idea where one ended and the other began. For all intents and purposes they are one city. If they were one city, they’d have a population right around 700,000, and the square mile area would still be smaller than cities like Portland, Denver and Austin.

      • That’s both a true and fair point, but it also remains true that numerous large 2 and 3 million plus metro areas would be left untouched, most notably in my view Detroit, Phoenix, Cleveland, San Diego, St. Louis, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Charlotte, Indy, and Cincy, all of which have NFL teams, and that excludes other large markets like Nashville (which does), Raleigh, Milwuakee, San Antonio and Austin and the loser in the MLS expansion race. My point is that there is no shortage of large US metro markets that can support professional sports, and MLS will bypass many them at only 24 teams. If a competitor can take advantage of that and perhaps try to build a few teams in existing MLS markets, MLS will not have written the entire story on top-flight soccer in the US.

      • Good point on the TV market. Portland was one of the top viewing MLB cities in the country when Seattle Mariners were in their prime.

    • We are running out of low hanging fruit and I’d give Indy or Sacramento a few years before making a definitive judgment.

      The emphasis should be on bulletproof quality and not reaching magic numbers. Preferably you’re not dropping a Chivas to pick up two other teams.

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