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Don Garber thrilled with ‘energy’ behind Rowdies MLS expansion bid


With a board meeting looming in April to narrow down MLS expansion candidates, commissioner Don Garber seems to be excited about one market in particular.

Speaking to reporters in Orlando on Sunday, Garber was asked about an expansion bid involving the Tampa Bay Rowdies. While there is a lot of work left to determine which cities will join the league, the commissioner is pleased with what he’s seen from the Rowdies.

“There’s been a lot of energy,” said Garber. “Bill Edwards is in regular conversations with us. The mayor was up in our office. I got a call from governer Scott when they submitted their bid. They are one of the markets of the 12 that has a lot of energy behind it.

“It’s a large market, Tampa-St. Pete. It’s one of the larger markets we don’t have in our league of the 12, but we’ll see, we have a lot of work to do.”

Garber also revealed that the MLS owners met to review the bids and that they will, at the very least, whittle down the list of candidates when the next board meeting rolls around in the third week of April.

Once a smaller group of markets is determined, the league hopes to announce the 25th and 26th franchises by the end of 2017.

The other markets vying for expansion include Charlotte, Nashville, Indianapolis, Detroit, Phoenix, St. Louis, Raleigh-Durham, San Antonio, Sacramento, Cincinnati and San Diego.


  1. Maybe this is Garbers way of nudging Beckham toward a joint venture with the Rowdies. They have the team and the history,…he has the $25MM franhise fee.

    Is Ft. Lauderdale that bad of a market? Why doesn’t Beckham explore buying Lockhart Stadium, tear it down and build a brand spanking new stadium and brand as the Strikers?

    • Ft. Lauderdale is a no go. Gridlock Traffic limits any movement around a continuing spiraling South Florida. I live in West Miami, and it takes about an hour by car to get to Lockhart (bad/no public transit options). It’s in the sticks. It is easier for me to go to Miami FC games, which is hard for some Miamians as well (West Dade is far from the city center, especially with bad public transportation). Also, as Brooklynite who goes Red Bull games and lived in the state division between NY/NJ, South Florida has a similar rivalry between Dade and Broward Counties. Many people do not like crossing county lines if they do not have to. Sports included. Dolphins Stadium is literally on the county line. The Downtown option is really the only one for Miami.

  2. As John McEnroe would say, “you can NOT be serious!”

    You have Orlando, you have Miami which continues to be given unlimited extensions to get their crap together, and now you want us to take the Rowdies bid seriously? I don’t buy it, and I live 2 hours from Tampa. Perhaps Garber forgets what happened to the soccer landscape in Florida 15 years ago? This just seems like a way to keep as many cities in the hunt, knowing full well there are only a handful of legit candidates, but it creates a nationwide buzz for MLS.


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