The process of expansion is an ongoing one for Don Garber and Major League Soccer, and despite some recent difficulties, the league plans go go full speed ahead towards 28 teams.
Speaking during Thursday’s night’s MLS All-Star Game, Garber discussed several of the league’s expansion projects. Most prominently, Garber provided an update on David Beckham’s MLS Miami project, even if that update was that there was no update at all.
“Atlanta made a presentation at our board meeting: 31,000 fan season ticket deposits, unbelievable technical development, a training ground, so we know they’re coming in next. We know we have another announcement in a couple of weeks on who will join them,” Garber said. “We’ve got two more teams after that. LAFC are going to break ground on their stadium in two weeks and we hope to still get something done in Miami, but we know we’ll have four more teams. I can’t tell you when that’s going to be. We’re going to be careful and we’re going to make sure that we manage the technical aspects of expansion, but there’s a lot of interest, probably a dozen cities for those last four spots.”
“Every time we talk about it things are happening there, but it takes time,” Garber added on Miami. “You’ve got to get it right. We failed there once. We have a good investor, we’ve got David engaged, we’ve got a site, but it’s going to take some time before we have any real news.”
Since announcing the Miami project in early 2014, Beckham’s project has faced several hurdles regarding the club’s future stadium. As a result, Minnesota United remains the most likely candidate to join Atlanta United as 2017 expansion sides, pending approval from the local government on several stadium-related matters. That leaves Los Angeles FC waiting in the wings alongside the Miami project, with the former set to start stadium construction in the coming weeks.
After that, there are several options for the four spots Garber detailed. Sacramento remains firmly in the mix, while markets like San Antonio, St. Louis, Detroit and Cincinnati have emerged as frontrunners for a potential team.
“It’s difficult. You have to be careful,” Garber said. “You have to ensure that we’re growing the soccer nation here, that we’re a league of choice. In order to do that, you have to have jobs and opportunities, training grounds great facilities and you have to be careful that you’re not diluting talent. Unlike the other domestic leagues, we have a global market to pick from. We also have great homegrown players. Look at Kellyn Acosta out there. It’s the bottom and it’s the top. Ultimately, our owners are smart… We have to make sure we expand carefully.”
If the MLS closes the Chicago Fire franchise they can use that spot for a new franchise with a decent ownership group.
Sacramento where you at?
As noted above a few more teams in underground and potential hotbeds is what will help improve the US scene. Example is Sacto with an already well run Academy and players from the area doing well in the US and Mexico. Spread the opportunity ..
I guess I didn’t realize Minnesota wasn’t a done deal for next year. It seems to me, with only 7 months until the 2017 season starts, it might be kind of late in the game for them to start. No MLS caliber players, no coach, no stadium, no season tickets sold….if they did come in to the league next year, it has disaster written all over it.
IMO, Garber is going to do what MLB did in 1991: pick Miami over a more established, well-supported city. Twenty-five years ago, MLB chose Miami as an expansion team instead of Buffalo. Buffalo had Pilot Field and sold out every home game for 3 years. Miami didn’t even have a minor league team at the time. Soon Garber will ignore Sacramento and San Antonio.
Great point. Miami has been a failure for MLB and will be for MLS too because Miami is an absolutely terrible terrible sports town. The only one in the country that may be worse is Atlanta. And of course MLS is going there too…
Yes we TOTALLY need to water down the talent even more…never mind that it’s a hack a man league full of teams that have players that never have to fight for a spot because the talent level is so thin already. Never mind that the typical MLS player now can make a five yard pass or bring the ball down and control it in one touch. Hack a man league gets worse
You could try paying attention. Any long time MLS fan will tell you the quality has improved greatly over the years, even with expansion. The reason is simple. They are attracting a lot of good players from other countries that wouldn’t have even considered MLS 10 years ago.
Gary, Although the quality of play has improved, one can argue that the league itself has not contributed to the improvement of the young American player. The reasons are due to what you have stated. How many Americans did you see on the field for the MLS All-stars?
I would argue that the number of Americans playing in MLS has decreased over the years even while the league has expanded. I am all for expansion and a successful MLS but the US National Team should also reap the fruits of a successful MLS.
No…. there hasn’t magically appeared from thin air more in their prime, 25-30 year old players in the league, but the last few years has seen a result in young player development which will continue to improve. New teams, in new cities can only help in creating new fans, exposing more people to the game as well as new development academies tapping into/discovering talent that would go unnoticed with no opportunity otherwise. The US is a vast country….. why have a league that leaves huge geographical gaps and or areas with great potential ignored?
As for the comments on profits- please. Creative bookkeeping for collective bargaining and tax purposes. I can assure you least some of the new team’s investors aren’t completely ignorant/gullible- know at least as much as the commenters here and done their due diligence- aren’t getting in line to pop 100 million on a ponzi scheme or whim.
More accurately, he said “the soccer nation thing here,” not “the soccer nation here.”
I thought that was kinda funny and sad too.
With only a few MLS clubs considered “profitable” it’s amusing how similar some aspects of MLS are to the following:
“Such organizations seldom involve sales of products or services with value. Without creating any goods or services, the only ways for a pyramid scheme to generate revenue are to recruit more members or solicit more money from current members. Eventually, recruiting is no longer possible and most members are unable to profit from the scheme.”
Those sweet, sweet buy-in fees for new MLS clubs sure do offset the lack of profitability…hence recruiting more and more cities to join MLS despite not having the talent pool to do so.
Stefan Szymanski who wrote co-wrote Soccernomics made this argument a year or so ago (and I’m sure it had been made before). Here is a criticism of it…. note that I don’t care, just thought you might find it interesting if you’re thinking of this.
Much as this author admitted to using the term colloquially, I’m also not attempting claim MLS is identical to a pyramid scheme – I’m just simply point out its red flags in his philosophy of securing resources in a league where close to 90% of the clubs aren’t making a profit.
I suppose more accurately the tactic is probably closer to a ponzi-scheme than anything. Either way, for those not drinking the kool-aid the Garber-expansion to secure funds doesn’t look good. Especially when considering the ramifications it has on the talent pool and diluting the overall quality of product.
To be fair, it is not quite a ponzi scheme if investors know what they are getting themselves into, which I’m sure they are. In fact many are probably willing to lose money because that is the reality of owning a sports team, and they do it for their own entertainment. It is, in the end, just a game. But from a fan’s point of view – a fan of the game itself that is – it is frustrating to watch the league’s decision makers, who are not soccer people, behave in their corporately opaque way. Disillusioning soccer purists is not a good way to transcend their currently mediocre on-field product.
Surprised I didn’t see a source for the claim that 90% of MLS clubs lose money (i.e. only 2 clubs are making money). Especially since your posts usually contain links and footnotes to everything when you think it helps your arguments. I’ll assume you just made it up.
Do you view all leagues like that? Most teams will report losses. My Mariners reported losses all the way through the 1980s, but were worth 10-11 times over the course of the decade. And didn’t fold like a Ponzi scheme, even 30-40 years later. Amazing they survived with no buy in fees like MLS are accumulating? I don’t think so.
My Sounders, on the other hand, are making so much money they can’t even fake a loss, unlike many teams in sports. Going from a $40 million valuation to many hundreds of millions.
Just more whining about soccer in this country, which of course makes it harder for soccer in this country to succeed, which leads to more whining.
I am hardly an expert on this, but I have had rental property for a long time. There are profits and losses and paper profits and losses. Thanks to depreciations and write offs you can show a paper loss while making a lot of money. That is what a lot of millionaires famously do. Likewise, sometimes profits can be inflated through various accounting tricks. Additionally, Amazon has lost money for most of its existence and yet, somehow, continues in business and gets a lot of investors to buy stock at ridiculously high prices. So, any figures or conclusions about MLS, or any sports franchises, for that matter, should be taken with a grain of salt. I saw recently that the Sounders have the second highest attendance in the WESTERN HEMISPHERE, so they should be doing okay. A number of franchises have sell outs almost every game, so they can’t be hurting much at all. And some owners are rich enough they don’t care if they make a profit, it’s a vanity project for them.
didn’t know where to post this. MLS TV viewership up nicely! check it out
Wow. Nice, we see what MLS teams did with the money from the last TV deal. 30-40% more money would be incredible, especially since it seems to be snowballing. More money, more talent, more fans, more money…repeat.
Like Gerber knew what he was talking about when he said top league someday.