As the process of bringing MLS to Miami continues to drag on, MLS commissioner Don Garber understands the continued delays could alter the timeline a bit.
Speaking at a State of the League address in Toronto on Friday, Garber admitted that there’s a possibility that Miami could be pushed behind several other expansion teams. As things stand, Miami has long been projected as the 24th MLS expansion team, but the continued stadium delays could see Miami pushed back into the 25-28 range.
“It’s conceivable,” Garber said. “It’s conceivable that could happen.”
Garber added that Miami is the most complicated situation he’s experienced in his 18-year tenure as commissioner while calling the market “difficult”. Miami is one of the country’s fastest growing markets when it comes to real estate prices while the current political climate sees MLS working with a number of different politicians to attempt to finalize the stadium process.
Another big focus is local ownership, and Garber says he is confident that he can secure a partner for Beckham with Miami ties. The ongoing appeal for stadium land, meanwhile, was turned down last week, giving Garber a bit more reason for optimism.
“I feel confident that that will come together,” the commissioner said. “I continue to say that we want Miami in the league. It’s a large market, a gateway city. There’s a lot of value to having a team down there and I remain confident that we’ll get something done. ”
As for the other expansion markets, we know four remain in contention for two upcoming spots. Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville and Sacramento made presentations to league officials this week and a decision is expected by the end of the year.
One key point of contention is stadiums, for teams both current and prospective. Garber says he still expects stadiums for both New York City FC and the New England Revolution in the coming years, even if the push to get into New York City and Boston has been difficult.
Meanwhile, Garber did admit that Atlanta “surprised” league leadership with how they fared in a larger stadium shared with an NFL team. For Garber, it’s a sign of the league’s evolution, but it remains to be seen if MLS will be open to allowing future teams to go the larger route over smaller soccer-specific downtown stadiums.
“I don’t think it takes us away from wanting small, filled-to-capacity soccer stadiums in urban environments,” Garber said. “Is the key to that urban and downtown or is the key to that the size of the stadium? It’s something we’re going to have to figure out as we move forward, but we’re certainly thinking a lot about it.”