The wait is finally over Philadelphia, Major League Soccer is coming to your city.
MLS has chosen Philadelphia to become the league’s 16th franchise, sources told SBI on Wednesday night. The announcement is set for next Thursday.
Philadelphia beat out St. Louis for the right to join the league, helped in no small part by the state of Pennsylvania’s decision to approve $47 million in state funding for a proposed $115 million stadium in Chester, Pa.
The Philadelphia team is slated to begin play in 2010.
So why Philadelphia instead of St. Louis? The St. Louis expansion drive slowed in recent months as efforts to attract big-money investors proved difficult while Philly’s push for public stadium funding provided the final boost for the efforts.
Don’t fret St. Louis, there is always being No. 17. The city’s chances for eventually joining MLS look good and a city with as much soccer history and love for the sport as St. Louis will surely make its way into the league sooner rather than later.
As most SBI readers know, I have long considered Philadelphia as the ideal candidate for expansion. Not only because of the area’s soccer history, but also for the rivalries that will be instantly created with D.C. United and the Red Bulls. The fact that fans of two established MLS teams will be able to drive two hours to an opposing team’s stadium is invaluable for cultivating the sort of fan connection that will help MLS grow.
What do you think of this decision? Did you like Philly as a candidate? Are you upset St. Louis lost out? Was there another city you had in mind? Share your thoughts below.