Garber to talk expansion with Orlando officials, still eyes New York for 20th team

MLSJNS01122012003

Photo by ISIphotos.com

USL Pro side Orlando City SC's aggressive push for an MLS expansion team continues to catch the attention of MLS commissioner Don Garber.   

Garber will be meeting with Orlando City owners, and city and county mayors on March 1 for exploratory talks about potential expansion. In a statement, Garber made it clear that while these meetings will take place, he has every intention of expanding to 20 teams with a second club in New York, a stance that he has been firm on for quite some time. 

"While New York City remains the league's focus for our 20th club, it's important to continue evaluating future options as we continue to grow the league," Garber said. "This growth has been built on a foundation of strategic expansion strategies, construction of new urban-based stadiums and a growing passionate soccer fan base across North America." 

It won't be the first time that Garber and Orlando City officials will have met. The two met in Feb., 2011, and again on a couple of reported occasions this past November. This round will also feature a town hall meeting that is open to the public at an Orlando restaurant.

What do you make of this development? Do you want to see an MLS team in Orlando? Think that it is imperative for New York to get a second team?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in MLS- Expansion. Bookmark the permalink.

113 Responses to Garber to talk expansion with Orlando officials, still eyes New York for 20th team

  1. Bmvaughn says:

    Per @McNarnia on twitter,
    “The Orlando Cosmos”

  2. aolsh says:

    Stupid idea if he’s taking it seriously. More likely just paying a courtesy. Orlando can barely support an nba team. No thanks.

  3. Dimidri says:

    Just gonna throw this out there-I think Miami would be a great candidate..
    I know what everybody’s going to say-
    ‘florida has historically proven can’t support teams’-this is largely true, but the reasons for this don’t really apply to MLS. Older people who move to Florida maintain their allegiances to their previous teams, hurting long-time sports like the Marlins, etc. MLS hasn’t been around nearly as long for this to hurt it substantially, plus MLS’ target audience isn’t these individuals, whereas the Marlin’s might be…Moreover, the Heat prove that Miami sports fans WILL come out when the stars are there, as superficial as that sounds, and assuming Miami would form a trifecta with NY/LA for foreign players coming here(both Latin American as the ‘capital of Latin America’ and European(think Burn Notice, other America media potraying Miami as devilishly sexy). This is an advantage Miami has over Orlando-getting star players to come to MLS, we have a finite amount of cities they want to come to, lets use them all.

    “the Fusion failed”-true, but that was largely due to poor ownership, the team was successful and attendance was on par with a good amount of other teams in the league. Moreover, holding cities to the attendance they had when the league was fledgling and the product was poorer is unfair and if applied to other cities like Kansas City, Dallas, etc. would mean they should have been contracted. Moreover, Florida is a hot-bed for talent, especially descendants of immigrants, having a MLS club in Miami would surely help cultivate that.

  4. K Ehnle says:

    I think if they want a team in the south, Atlanta would be a better option.

  5. Weaver83 says:

    There has to be somewhere in the southeast that is more centrally located that can handle an MLS team. We finally got a lower level team here in Knoxville last year that has made the lack of a close MLS team bearable for the time being.

  6. dfasfd says:

    True, I agree with all you say. However everyone in Florida is old and soccer is what their grand kids play. So it does not matter that they have no loyalites to a team. Also Miami is full of cubans, which prefer baseball over soccer.

    But everything else, talent, great destination for players ect

  7. BamaMan says:

    Orlando’s attendance has been impressive but the possibility of a return of the Cosmos will be just too much for the league to resist. My personal hope is that once they hit 20, they will begin to build up the second tier in anticipation of the time 10-15 years from now when MLS could support a two tiered 44 team league. Promotion and relegation as it is in England will never work in America. Promotion and relegation between two tiers of a single league so that you have much broader market presence and where you can keep DMAs from having more than two clubs would be a financial bonanza.

    At the very least, you could concentrate on making markets prove their viability in the second tier before granting them a full-fledged MLS franchise.

  8. Indigo Montoya says:

    Agreed – Not to begrudge another shot, but Florida already failed once. Try something else, i.e., Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte, Memphis, hell, even Charleston. If Orlando can work, God bless, but another market (other than NY v. 2.0) should be vetted.

  9. Dimidri says:

    While Miami does probably have more per capita individuals over 60 than most other cities, it is not SO much more as to negate the Miami metro area’s population advantages over cities like Kansas City, Salt Lake City, Portland, etc. If you generously say that Miami has 8% more senior citizens than those cities, it’s 8th metro ranking easily guarantees it enough people in MLS’ target age group for a successful team. I think people like Jozy Altidore(son of Haitian immigrants) show that there is a large amount of interest, plus Jamaicans, Haitians, etc. are big soccer people.

  10. matt says:

    As much as I would love a team in Atlanta, historically it has been a terrible city for supporting sports teams, even when they are good (see Atlanta Braves.) Unfortunately I am not sure that in the short-term any urban area in the South (except maybe Miami) is capable of putting 15-20K butts in the seats week in and week out, unless MLS teams start playing SEC football or ACC basketball. I’d love to be proven wrong though.

  11. Gil says:

    I would love to see teams in Orlando, Tampa, maimi n other southeast cities. So maybe like that we can move to a winter schedule. Teams in the north that don’t have roofs in their stadium and cant play outside becuase is too cold, they can go south and play a few games on the road early in the year. Plus would love to see Orlando city, strikers and rowdies have a go…

  12. timmytwoshoezzz says:

    Florida is a wasteland for professional sports that do not have Lebron James and Dwayne Wade

  13. Dainja says:

    I got the idea: Dirty South FC. Several cities that have proven big turnouts can share the team: Atlanta would get 1/3 of the games, Nashville would get a 1/3 of the games, and maybe either Birmingham or Miami. Look, there have been regional teams in the past in many sports, and its the best solution. As an ATLien for ten years, I can tell you that Atlanta does have a shaky history of supporting teams. But if its only a few games a year, the turnout will be great. Maybe Orlando can get some games?? who knows. But if “New England” and “Golden State” (nba) can have a team, why not a team for the whole South??

  14. WisFan says:

    Nashville and somewhere in North Carolina’s Triangle would be good candidates for expansion. Both have a small but decent track record of supporting soccer.

  15. DWE4 says:

    Unless there’s a great upswell of grassroots support (Sons of Ben, Disney-style), strong local sponsorship (1/2 of the PGA), and a Toronto FC-style stadium, Orlando will have a tough time winning over the League. As mentioned previously, Florida is a tough market for professional sports. The Jaguars, Dolphins, and Buccaneers have trouble selling out home games. The Marlins and Rays don’t draw well–even when the teams are competitive. Meanwhile, MLB spring training is a huge hit, so it’s not like Florida residents don’t like baseball. It seems that the combination of partial-year residents + people from “somewhere else” + year-round outdoor weather means that there’s a lot of other things to do, and people don’t pay as much attention to pro sports. I left out the other two leagues. The Magic don’t draw. The Heat didn’t until LeBron and Bosh came to town. And I’m pretty sure any of us can score Lightning or Panthers tickets. MLS has a nice hitting streak going on expansion clubs. I don’t see a lot of opportunity in Charlotte, Atlanta, or Florida.

    Oh, and it would be really nice–one of these times–if the topic of MLS team #20 came up without someone talking about Promotion/Relegation and MLS as a 40-team construct. It ain’t happening, and it’s not relevant to the conversation. The NBA struggles to field a 30-team league with worldwide appeal and 12-man rosters. The payroll disparity is irrelevant. Promotion/relegation exists in countries where soccer is the top sport. In addition to year-round entertainment from pro football/ basketball/ hockey/ golf/ baseball/ tennis/ NASCAR, we have multi-billion dollar sports industries centered around AMATEUR sports (college football/basketball). That’s our promotion/relegation, except that the players get promoted, not the teams.

  16. Kejsare says:

    Haitians and Jamaicans are still like Mexicans. Can you get them excited for THIS league?

  17. Giovanni says:

    Orlando is a perfect market in the south for an MLS team. There is a high quality ownership group in place. The quality of play is very high..winning the USL Championship in the first year of existence along with beating numerous MLS teams along with European squads. The fan base was great in the first year and is only getting bigger. The average attendance last year led the country for teams not in MLS and in addition, the attendance actually was higher than some MLS teams.

    What Orlando has is a very unique setup and ability to reach the international market. Not only does Orlando have a large soccer community but also a very large international community to tap into. Secondly, being the major tourist destination, this is a great opportunity to showcase the sport for those coming from foreign lands. Last summer when Orlando beat Newcastle, the attendance numbers was fantastic and a lot of English fans who were on vacation came to watch the match and left very impressed with the quality of play and with the passionate supporters. I met several of them who said that they were going to keep tabs on the club while back in England.

    I am biased but I don’t agree with having a second team in NY when there isn’t an eastern team south of DC. How can the league reach out over the country if it doesn’t have something for those fans.

    Miami and TB didn’t work because of poor ownership and poor strategic planning. Orlando City doesn’t have the same failures. The ownership team are committed to doing whatever it takes to land an MLS team.

  18. fish says:

    this. this indeed

  19. Dimidri says:

    Well seeing as the Jamaican/Haitian domestic leagues are substantially worse than MLS(not the case with Mexico) and, for the most part, their best players play in MLS(as opposed to Chicarito, Vela, Dos Santos, etc.), yes I think we could.

  20. CSD says:

    Dan your are killing my soccer street cred. Orlando, come on when someone says “MLS is a Mickey Mouse League” I will have to agree.

  21. CSD says:

    First signing with that crazy Mickey money:

    link to laughingplace.com

  22. Gord Downie says:

    It’s great seeing to see an ambitious ownership group push for Orlando, but I would still put Tampa Bay ahead in the Florida pecking order. The Rowdies really had something going during the NASL glory days. If they could ever recapture that support, they would make a nice little MLS club for the South-East… That being said, it might not be a bad idea having Orlando as a second Florida club down the road, but I would say no sooner than 2016.

    As for New York, I just don’t think the market is ready for a second club yet. The Red Bulls haven’t established deep enough roots yet in the city.

    I would love to see St. Louis, and the ‘Collinsville Arena’ back on the table as the main focuss for the next round of expansion. Back in the day Vancouver and St. Louis were the two incredible soccer hotbeds in North America (not sure if thats changed?). Obviously a deep-pocket ownership group is needed but I could see St. Louis selling out the formerly-proposed 18,500 SSS no problem.

    In any case, I hope the league takes a few years off from expansion after #20, and really focusses its resources on getting clubs like New England and Chivas into their own stadiums.. This will help the league grow stronger than adding multiple expansion teams.

  23. C(note) says:

    Orlando FC was not the “first year in existence” this year. It was their first year in Orlando but they moved from Austin, Where the ownership did well drawing fans even with 20$ tickets, playing on a high school football field and not being able to sell beer- because of being in a school stadium.

    I would love to see a team in Austin again and we will have another one for 2012-13. I know we will never have an MLS team but it’s a nice dream. The aztex out drew FC Dallas in regular season attendece one year

  24. mike r says:

    Orlando mighty ducks?

  25. gotta be tampa
    way more tradition
    much better city
    orlando is full of people on vacation
    no one lives here, just a bunch of brazilians buying everything in the outlets
    no one will go to the games

  26. bottlcaps says:

    Florida had it’s chance for MLS teams…two of them and lost them both when the league decided to contract, and cut thier losses.

    It’s not that Florida does not deserve a second chance, it’s that there are too many deserving cities and regions who deserve a shot. With the FIFA mandate the first diviosn leagues should not be over 20 teams, the only way I see the MLS expansion past that is by a promotion/relegation table.

    This would only work if the 2nd division was majority owned by the MLS, as the league is a single entity ownership.
    Going to a MLS owned and financially stable lower division would allow 20 or so more cities and regions an opportunity to go big time (as a full MAJOR League team) should they have the discipline, ownership, and fan base to build a successful football franchise.

    Just “throwing money at the MLS to get a franchise” days are over. You need to have a fan base to match. Teams like Vancouver and Montreal are showing that it pays to carry forward with their minor league effort and be rewarded with a major league franchise.

    I daresay, I would love to see the Rochester Rhinos, The SC battery or some of the other lower division teams earn a berth in the MLS rather than see Orlando get one by throwing money at it.

  27. JesseMT says:

    Honest question: What happens to Red Bull attendance when NYC2 comes to town?

    I’m from Seattle and have no idea how NY area sports allegiances work, except that it seems like if you’re a Giants fan, you’re also a Yankees/Rangers fan. (True?) But I’d prefer our next expansion team not gut the fan base of an existing team.

  28. anikan says:

    Promotion and relegation will never happen in the USA. The second some owner that paid $35+ million to have a team in MLS has his team relegated there will be a lawsuit.

  29. dgoshilla says:

    NY2 is a bad idea. Orlando is a bad idea. Look at the NHL and MLB to see how bad expansion decisions are crushing the leagues. MLS should wait to expand. Until MLS can afford to keep Americans here and each team has a REAL DP that draws I don’t think expansion makes sense.

  30. Tommy says:

    Hey, whatever Disney wants Disney gets. I am just not sure you are going to get the fans to show up.

  31. JesseMT says:

    Orlando City, if I’m not mistaken, had better attendance than Rochester and Charleston last year.

  32. anikan says:

    So having two teams in LA is working out so well that the league thinks they should have two in NY also? They MIGHT be able to have two team in the NY area as long as neither of them has the Cosmos name and they aren’t close to one another. If the second team in NY is the Cosmos the league will basically be saying they want the Red Bulls to die.

  33. chris says:

    Move Chivas USA to San Diego and put a team in the southeast (Miami, Atlanta)problem solved. Orlando would be a bad move. Stadium is a dump and so is the organization.

  34. RUSTY SHACKELFORD says:

    Your love for for Promotion/Relagation will never happen in this country. It’s the worse business model.

  35. matt says:

    Except RBNY is actually located in NJ. A team located in a borough of NY, which is what MLS wants, will draw its own fan base, and (in theory) create an instant rivalry. I don’t think LA’s “failure” of a 2nd team is b/c LA isn’t a big enough market, but b/c a Chivas spin-off team was a dumb idea and the Chivas team isn’t talented enough to make a good rival for the Galaxy.

  36. buff111 says:

    Or Move Chivas to Atlanta and stand up the Cosmos as planned. Chivas attendence last year was 14,830 with the MLS average of 17,870. Of course many teams averaged fewer than 17k per game however, Galaxy averaged 23,335. It looks like LA supports one team. Also, the southeastern section of the country has to be represented otherwise, why should the folk who live there support the MLS?

  37. Todd Marsch says:

    Having lived in Tampa, Miami, and close to Orlando, I agree that Miami is definitely the best bet for an MLS team in Florida. Last summer during the Copa America, every bar in downtown Miami had the games on TV. I’ve even seen U-20 World Cup games on in regular bars (i.e. not soccer specific or even general sports bars). There are lots of people here who love the sport. There just has to be a good stadium situation and some big name players on the team. I don’t see any reason why Miamians wouldn’t go out to see a Florida version of the Red Bulls or Galaxy–teams with a couple big name DPs.

  38. g-dub says:

    I must say a two tiered MLS is intriguing even if annual relegation will never work here. Ownership groups that consistently underperform and aren’t willing or able to spend to improve the product or fan experience should be subject to repercussions. I also like the long term idea of more teams and players under single entity MLS structure. At the end of the day it is owner groups that can make and spend big money that will allow MLS and American club soccer to compete globally.

  39. Mua'Dweeb says:

    Who knows, but the area can easily support 2 soccer teams. Red Bull Arena is in NJ and is easiest to get to from the NJ suburbs, Hoboken, Jersey City, Newark and the west side of Manhattan. I go there from the east side of Manhattan and its a little longer trip, about 45 mins.

    A NYC2 team is thought to be best located near Mets Stadium (Citifield) in Queens. That is a completely different world for a potential fanbase. Queens, northern Brooklyn, East side of Manhattan, and Long Island would give millions of potential fans who probably don’t go to Red Bull Arena in large numbers.

    It will happen, it’s only a matter of time. Everything in NY draws people and a decent team with some star power will be successful.

  40. Astorian says:

    Red Bull attendance would more or less stay the same. Short of signing Messi, Neymar, CRonaldo and Xavi, New Yorkers will not cross the river to support a New Jersey team.

    As a New Jersey native, I find it a bit bizarre as well, but the fact of the matter is that New Yorkers will only go to Jersey if:

    1. The Jersey team plays in the best league in the world and there is no NYC option (NFL)

    or

    2. There are a good deal of world class performers on display (and there is no option to see them in NYC. (think Cosmos, or whenever Brazil, Spain, Barcelona, Man United or Argentina play friendlies there.)

  41. David s. says:

    Sometimes the comments section is really surreal. Yes, Don Garber and MLS are just going to start awarding teams based on ‘what’s a good market’. If Orlando has deep-enough pocketed investors and a credible stadium (plan) they’ll get a team. End. Of. Story. If Miami, Tampa, Nashville, Atlanta, etc. don’t, they won’t.

    And if the success of RSL and KC have shown anything, it’s that the owner makes the market. Boston is one of the best ‘markets’ in North America. The franchise is moribund. Why? Lack of committed ownership.

    If all the people crapping on Orlando want a team in city X instead, wave a $200 million dollar commitment in front of Garber, you’ll get your wish. Until then, enjoy howling at the moon.

  42. Northzax says:

    Well to be fair, there are 20 million people within fifty miles of New York, I don’t think two teams is unrealistic.

  43. Drew says:

    MLS could use some infrastructure in Florida that all teams could use. While Orlando would never be Seattle in terms of attendance, it has multiple opportunities that other cities in the south don’t offer. Disney’s sports operations, international visitors, etc.

    The bottom line is a presence in FL is a good thing for the continued development of the league.

  44. Brain Guy says:

    I don’t understand Garber’s obsession with a second club in the NY area. It will harm, not help, RBNY. And there’s no realisitic plan for a stadium. The NY-area market is huge, but a NYC-based team — IF a stadium can ever be built — will totally stunt RBNY’s growth. This is not London, where a single metropolitan area can support many clubs. MLS is going to shoot itself in the foot on this one,

  45. jspech says:

    could not agree more David s.

  46. Ben says:

    “This growth has been built on a foundation of strategic expansion strategies…”

    Yes, those strategic strategies are good things.

  47. soccerfan says:

    Never say Never , if its a second tier the entry fee will be less. They have to build that second tier MLS2 for the smaller markets and when that goes to 20 teams you can look at pro/rel.

    Orlando is a growing city, and will good ownership is not impossible. But its damn hot in the summer, you sweat even by just sitting outside let alone run for 90 min.

    Perhaps they could play most of their games in the sping and fall at home, avoid the summer heat.

    I would love to have NY with a second team, i just don’t see it possible anytime soon unless its in one of the baseball stadiums or back at Giants stadium.

  48. Charles says:

    The Brain guy doesnt get his obsession….I will gie you a hint, he has 70 million reasons.

  49. tommy Mac says:

    NY Cosmos with a credible management team (not damaged goods from English 2nd division or Scandanavian….I.e. Soler/Backe) in a soccer specific stadium in NY, ideally over the midtown railyards in Manhattan, would easily double the NYRB’s attendance (10,000/avg if they are lucky this year per sources on sales team) in their rookie season. For the benefit of all NY Metros/RB long suffering fans…go Cosmos!

  50. Astorian says:

    Totally disagree.

    To the average soccer-loving New Yorker, New Jersey is almost a different planet. In their minds, NY does not have a team – like it or not, that’s the reality we’re dealing with here.

  51. Thorpinski says:

    arguably the worst sports town in America

  52. Kasey says:

    gotta wonder if the language in Beckham’s new contract still excludes him from a sweetheart NYC deal

  53. The Imperative Voice says:

    My two cents: San Diego, San Antonio, Phoenix. Maybe Rochester if you thought they’d attend MLS Rhinos like they used to show up before the bankruptcies and such. Maybe Puerto Rico for cultural kicks (but not because we thought people would show up like MLS numbers).

    In terms of the current minor league cities besides Rochester, we got all the remaining low hanging fruit as of Montreal. You’re talking teams that can’t fill 4-figure size stadia. I don’t see them scaling up. This includes Atlanta and all the other SE teams. I don’t see 5-figures showing up even if they buy MLS quality players.

    I don’t see the point in NY2 because I think it would be a dud, like re-creating the Metros. You finally get NY solid, then split the support? Unwise. It’s not LA.

    Orlando is a smaller city than Miami or Tampa, which were contracted. The idea is the flavor of the month but the mere fact of a decent team and motivated ownership should not overcome good sense. I also don’t buy the idea of working the tourists, who probably have higher priorities. Same basic thought on Vegas, which gets tossed around every so often. Only locals can buy season tickets…..

    How about Miami and Havana if the embargo ever blows over?

  54. Scott A says:

    Everything you posted is utter, complete fantasy.

  55. Scott A says:

    Most soccer-loving New Yorkers that I know who wold stoop to MLS, are Red Bulls fans. Don’t be mistaken. The bigger issue is elitists not supporting a league that isn’t world class. RBNY is NYC metro area’s team; don’t take that away from the loyal fans from all corners of the metro area.

  56. SecretSquirrel says:

    Orlando City is one of the few, if not the only fully tiered soccer organization in the country. This means that this is a club that when kids first start playing, they have an opportunity start at the youth academy level, move up into travel league, into the U23/PDL side, and potentially onto the pro side.

    Not only is this big on building community support, but season tickets are likely included in all youth memberships. You’re looking at a few thousand tickets right away. Add in parents who will buy in to go with their kids (conservatively 1 adult ticket for every 3 kids) you’ve got another load taken care of.

    Now take the average attendance from last year which I believe was around 6,000 plus or minus a few hundred, and add in numbers from the new youth side (not all of them of course, as you assume some were already ticket holders). You have multiple, growing supporters clubs, a great deal of businesses and potential fans in the area becoming more aware of a new championship club, and would of course influx of fans that would immediately come in with moving up from a minor league team into a major league team. There are, of course, more sources of fans and income, but this post has gotten long enough already.

    In no way does that seal a deal, but a “courtesy” doesn’t do justice to potential that someone higher up in MLS would have to be blind not to see

  57. Bobmarley says:

    hey yeah, when mls gets better then mexican league in 5-7 years mex-americans will switch like putting the car from one gear to the next.just like that. dude, what are you smoking? there’s tradition that people follow. their uncles and pops supported certain teams, and now their sons and daughters who moved to US still find a way to watch/follow teams from back home, and not mls.

  58. FredWilpon says:

    this looks good to Garber too, thats why he said what he said. oh wait, i dont see any reference to Cosmos. maybe thats why he keeps ringing my phone.

  59. AG says:

    I’ve never been to NY before but east Manhattan can’t be more than 8 or 9 miles from RBA can it? If I’m right that 45 minute travel time is ridiculous! I thought Houston rush-hour traffic was terrible. Do you drive or take the train/subway to the games?

  60. B says:

    When is San Diego going to get a team???

  61. blaise213 says:

    I hate being at soccer games when there’s a whole bunch of little kids, exactly why I stopped going to San Jose Earthquakes game.

  62. Robin says:

    Just like when the New York Giants won the Super Bowl it was really New Jersey that won and not New York.

    NYRB is a New York/New Jersey team. Deal with it. Also I wonder who you talk to in New York because all the New Yorkers I know love NYRB.

  63. Robin says:

    When India gets a new MLS type league but guessing because of the horrible meeting between the Indian Federation and Indian Clubs, I think you are going to have to wait a while.

  64. Dimidri says:

    I agree with the notion that supporters group/’American soccer’ fans(not American ‘soccer fans’, difference)/MLS blogger-types are already RBNY fans, I think a large portion of the NY2 appeal is its potential to unlock some of the non-MLS soccer fans in a way RBNY maybe couldn’t.

  65. Eric W says:

    haha. last time i was at a quakes game (to support my revs) i had to turn around and kindly request that the man behind me keep his collection of 8 year olds under control.

  66. Sam says:

    At least you got to turn around and see people behind you…

  67. camjam says:

    If/When (probably if) Chivas suddenly becomes an intelligent organization, and realizes they need to move to a city that will build a stadium. I’d guess San Diego at 25% (Phoenix, San Antonio, Atlanta).

  68. Dennis says:

    I agree, but not for that reason, instead weather related. It is already too hot on most July and August days in NY for players to go anywhere near ability for 90 minutes. Anything in Florida would stretch the too-hot season from June through Sept. (at least). Houston is probably a counter-point, but … There is a reason most leagues do not play in the summer. If the MLS went to a schedule that had a bigger fraction of the games when it makes sense from the point of view of weather (no January-February games in Montreal, Toronto, NY, Philly Chicago, Denver… no July -August games in Houston, Dallas, Florida …) It is indeed a big issue in a country the size of the USA.

  69. Dennis says:

    It should. The US certainly has the population to support much more than 20 MLS teams. Of course there is already USL, etc. There should be some form of promotion relegation that would allow for a greater number of teams to get a shot at the top league based upon the quality of the soccer they can put on the field (that is not unrelated to how well they can garner a following and fill the stands). Instead what we get is Garber wheeling and dealing to line up his choice of just which teams will end up making the final 20. Garber is not a total soccer barbarian, but I don’t like the idea of a single person, or small group, declaring they know best and the rest of us must just abide whatever these soccer management geniuses dictate.

  70. Dennis says:

    Red Bull arena is fairly close to Manhattan. Staten Island is ok and parts of Brooklyn, but really the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, all of Long Island are all not easy trips. I don’t think a team playing on Long Island or even in Brooklyn or the Bronx would have a major impact on the Red Bull’s attendance.

  71. Dennis says:

    That and Galaxy and Chivas play in the same stadium, thereby drawing from the exact same geographic distribution for seats in the seats. I’ve been in LA, it can be a feat to get from one side to the other; even though Californians may be immune to traffic, travel does limit who will actually show up at games.

  72. Dennis says:

    If you drive, you almost have to count on 20 minutes (sometimes a lot more) to get through the tunnel at least near rush hour, add 10 minutes (or a bit more) from each end of the tunnel and 45 minutes is far from ridiculous! Trains could work, Red Bull Arena is within sight of the northeast corridor tracks. I do not know how hard it is to get to the arena from the Harrison stop; the PATH trains run every 10-15 minutes and the ride is about 20 minutes from the World Trade Center. The subway in NYC will get you there in less than half an hour from most points. So again 45 minutes is not silly, it might even be fairly optimistic for the train. BTW, I live in NJ and there is never no traffic, sometimes there is a bit less traffic than rush-hour in downtown Springfield, Il, but not much less.

  73. Biebs says:

    The problem with Red Bull arena is that, even with being next to the Path, it’s still kind of a pain to get to, even for someone like me who lives less than 10 minutes from a Path station

    1. When you get out at the Harrison station, it’s about a 10-15 minute walk to the stadium, the way the roads are blocked off, it’s a real pain to walk over

    2. Getting back is a nightmare. The Harrison station is not built to handle the sheer number of people that head back to the city after the game. I’ve found it to be faster to walk back to Newark-Penn (About a 20-25 minute walk) then to wait for enough trains to come through to take me back to NYC.

    What should be a 45 minute trip ends up being closer to 75 minutes to get home. I’m not sure how it could have been done, but it didn’t seem like there was any thought given to how to link up the stadium to the train station, and I’m guessing the money simply isn’t there to expand the station.

    I like going to Red Bull stadium, but the experience of getting there and getting back is a real turn-off.

  74. Andy says:

    Just what we need Don. Now we will have 18 bad teams.

    How about finding some money to develop players from ages 6-17? Soccer has the potential to become a more popular sport but not until we produce good players.

    Obviously the plan we have in place now is not working and for those who think it is, denial is a wonderful thing.

  75. Biebs says:

    I know Don Garber’s best interest include developing the game of soccer in the US. But I don’t think adding another team in the MLS is any way going to harm developing better youth players in the US. Nor would I expect Garber to be at the forefront of that anyhow, he’s commissioner of the MLS, not the head of youth development for US Soccer.

    It’s not like the $50M or so that would go to a franchise fee would somehow be used for youth development instead.

  76. SecretSquirrel says:

    It’s much more than just the kids. It was just one big example of why the market is there and why they already have a way to be involved in the community that the Magic can’t. No matter how you slice it, thats 3-5 thousand immediate season ticket holders on top of whats already there.

    It’s not a matter of having most of the fans being kids, that isn’t the case at all from going to games. It’s a matter of having the market there and capitalizing on it

  77. Vibor says:

    There were rumblings in the Canadian press a few years back that ottawa was working on a bid for an expansion side. The owner of the Senators was behind it, and there was talk of Landsdowne Park getting a refit to be both Soccer and CFL compatable.

    While a smaller population base, there is literally no sports presence in Ottawa during the summer. It would be the only game in town, in a city where pretty much every kid plays organized soccer.

    I doubt they will get spot number 20, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ottawa as a candidate if the league moves to 22 teams at some point.

    Personally, I’d like to see the creation of an MLS2 once the league goes to 20. I think North American soccer would be greatly served by a stronger second division that has the clout of MLS behind it. If you bring in all of the good NASL and USL teams to start, you’d have a great base to encourage more second level expansion. I have a feeling an affiliated second tier would prove more alluring than currently, and we’d see fewer players not ready for MLS moving to Norway and Finland, etc.

    I’d suggest against pro/rel for all the obvious reasons, but encourage any further MLS expansion to come through MLS2 when teams have built the appropriate stadium, have a youth academy, etc.

  78. Felix says:

    I agree, that would be awesome for the league – but it appears that the Cosmos were more talk than substance.

  79. cajun says:

    Going all the way back to the Jacksonville Tea Men and beyond, the state of Florida has been a utter failure in top level soccer many, many times. Why should it be any different now?

  80. RK says:

    Charleston is not remotely big enough (and trust me, I love Charleston).

  81. malkin says:

    too bad he didn’t work “strategery” in there.

  82. RK says:

    Arguably the most hackneyed argument in America.

  83. RK says:

    That’s a horrible idea.

  84. malkin says:

    If Rafa and Novak can go 5 hours in the middle of australian summer, soccer players can go 90.

  85. malkin says:

    “coming from east manhattan” implies you don’t own a car, so you have to take the subway and transfer to the PATH (which is the NJ transit subway that ny-folk never take except to get to Hoboken for st patty’s day).

    And re the giants/yankees/rangers vs mets/jets/islanders breakdown…yes that’s generally true.

  86. fischy says:

    Not really. New York is a media market, if there ever was one. Unlike almost every other city, in New York almost everyone reads a newspaper, whether it’s the Times. Daily News or Post. Readers of the latter two are usually big sports fans. If there’s a Cosmos side playing in the city, the sport will move beyond internet columns (Times) and sidebar-type pieces in the other papers. This will also lead to highlight time on the evening news. That will make a huge difference in the league’s profile, and will benefit the Red Bulls in addition to what it will do for the new team.

  87. fischy says:

    Well…first off, I’m sure you’ve hugely overstated the number of youth memberships — it can’t be “thousands”. Second, if season tickets would be included in the membership, that’s not a big boon to the club. MIght fill some seats, though, and that can’t be bad, since there might be spillover effects.

    I think Orlando is a promising place for a soccer team — but, more so because it’s such a tourist destination. NBA tickets are too dang expensive to begin with, and the sport’s appeal is limited. Soccer, on the other hand, reaches into all communities and might even bring in international visitors. I’m sure that’s what the league has in mind. Can it work? Possibly. If they ever get rid of that moron/crook they elected Governor and get to building that high-speed rail line, the city could be attractive to soccer fans from all across south Florida. That would be something.

  88. fischy says:

    You make a point, but if the league made bigger inroads into the southern US, that could allow for creative scheduling — it might even allow for going over to the Euro seasons, but it would be valuable even if that didn’t happen. As long as you have some balance between northern and southern tier teams, you can work the schedule to take advantage of the climate.

  89. fischy says:

    It will go up….probably. As long as they field a decent team, NYRB will probably benefit from the increased local media attention to the league.

  90. Astorian says:

    I go to Red Bull games from Queens but I’m the exception, not the rule. I haven’t seen all these Red Bull fans in NYC that you seem to think exist on every corner.

    Also, the Giants example is a bad one because they played in NY for about 50 years before they moved to New Jersey and there is no NYC option for NFL football.

  91. SecretSquirrel says:

    Wasn’t overstating youth memberships. There were over 500 kids for Super Y tryouts alone

  92. The Imperative Voice says:

    I don’t know if MLS or even MLS2 would do much to halt the Scandinavian alternative. If Hammarby is willing to pay Davies $400K and we’re willing to go $200 or 250K, guess who wins? And if you look at Freddy Adu then you see the risk of MLS plonking the big money on a kid who may not actually be worth it. So until MLS salaries creep up some more, I see Scandinavia as a continuing Plan B for people who want a league they can play in for similar or slightly more money.

    Canadian fans show up so well that another team there feels interesting, though I’m not sure if the remaining cities like Edmonton and Ottawa would sustain a team in the way Montreal, Vancouver, and Toronto have. But one thing I’d say is a team in Ottawa probably has a better chance of working in practice than Orlando, Atlanta, and some of the other suggestions being bounced around.

    I’ve already said a couple times on other threads what I think needs to happen, each MLS team is given a minor league affiliate, stocks it at least in part with its reserve players, and the players develop in the minors at reserve salaries — not vastly different than minor league pay anyway — while the cost of development is at least part-defrayed by selling tickets to games, merchandise, etc. At minimum, I think MLS should consider letting MLS teams opt out of the reserves and do this instead. You can call it MLS2 or whatever, if enough critical mass signs up.

    If you look at the EPL, it’s 20 teams, a lot of leagues are that size, I think that’s an intelligent upper limit for MLS. I think we’ve reached the present limit in terms of easy, quality expansion, and that’s with 19 teams. I don’t like expanding to expand, and I think it would be very expensive for minor league teams to set up their own youth apparatus, etc., to prove their bona fides. I think they’re better off being stocked by MLS teams.

  93. yankiboy says:

    Vibor, Ottawa will participate in the NASL either next year or 2014 (depends on the stadium situtation).

    It currently has PDL & W-League affiliates participating in the USL. To the best of my knowledge, the owner of the Senators is not currently involved in the project (but that could and most likely would change if they were ever to have a real chance to move up to MLS–which is admittedly, way too early to discuss at this time)

    link to ottawafury.com

    link to nasl.com

  94. RedStateJim says:

    Florida is a tough sports market,, BUT the Orlando Magic have SOLD OUT every game in the last 2 years. They average 102% of capacity. If you say the Magic don’t draw you must not know what 102% means. I think they draw pretty well.

    The Orlando ownership group in place has ties to the EPL (Stoke I think) with a sound business model and strong marketing. The area can easily support an MLS team and draw 18,000 to a game. Orlando is the 19th largest TV market in the US and that is crucial to TV revenue and future contracts. (Notice how the Big East Conference has added only large TV markets to their conference, regardless of the quality of the colleges programs?)

    That being said, there are 10 other cities around the country that could draw and “deserve” an MLS team

  95. emeric says:

    Another misinformed wannabe. Playing soccer in the fall will be the death of soccer in the US as we know it. Competing against NFL, NCAA Football is not in the MLS interests. Playing in the summer is the best time to play for MLS when MLB is your only competition. Promotion and relagation is not going to work in this country.

  96. emeric says:

    No to two tiered system. Owners are losing money from their product already from ticket sales, concessions etc and that’s enough repercussions already. If they want to be competitive open those wallets up.

  97. Seriously? says:

    And if soccer players could stop, stand around, towell off and catch their breath every 30 seconds or so, and sit down for a couple minutes every 10 minutes or so, as tennis players do, your comparison would work. But that’s not the case

  98. CosmosCanWork says:

    Part of the Cosmos appeal is the ability to get three world-class DPs. MLS has realized that star players have no desire to play outside of NY and LA. Add another NY team, add three DPs.

  99. CosmosCanWork says:

    Moving Chivas to another LA location (or better yet, another Mexican-American entirely) would make Chivas more successful. Playing in the same exact stadium is foolish for MLS competition.

  100. CosmosCanWork says:

    Ownership and stadium plans are essential for MLS expansion bids, but Garber won’t just go out and give Tulsa a team. As much as RSL and KC have good attendances and captured the city, the real money is with national TV rights. If you win NYC and LA, you win TV rights. Not to mention, increased talent in the league is a problem for the league. And world-class stars won’t go to KC and RSL (minus Omar Bravo…if you consider him world class. But now he’s gone).

  101. Scott M says:

    I think it would be a great move to have MLS in Orlando and Orlando City would be the perfect ownership to make it happen!

  102. sagcat says:

    This is an incredibly well reasoned and well-stated comment. Not to mention persuasive. I wish this level of discourse and insight were common place on the internet, in fact.

    The only thing I’d add would be mention of how poorly even college football is supported, and my impression is college football is king sport in Florida. The Canes have a particularly embarrassing problem with empty seats. I have the impression that UF is pretty consistent, but I’ve seen barren upper corners at FSU games, too. And heck, even UF had a hard time in their bowl game in their own state this year with a quality name opponent in Ohio State. (Attendence was only 61.3k with a capacity of 67.2k.) (Florida State sold out their game, but it was against Notre Dame.)

  103. yankiboy says:

    Nice Jacksonville Tea Men reference. Not saying that I don’t think that Florida could support a first division club, or disagreeing–just sayi’ the Tea Men reference was strong. +1, Playah…

  104. David s. says:

    Fair enough, though we’re talking about Orlando, a top 20 Nielsen market, Tulsa barely cracks the top 60. Among major markets, it comes down to ownership + stadium. I agree about a 2nd NYC team, FWIW, for the reasons you mentioned. My post had more to do with this implied fantasy that megarich I/Os in Miami, Tampa, Atlanta, are all throwing themselves at MLS, but stupid Garber is wasting his time at Disney.

  105. LateNite504 FC says:

    RS Jim – someone also must not know what “capacity” means.

    If I am running the MLS, no one else gets a new franchise unless I’m convinced its gonna look like the last 4 or 5 expansion teams. New stadium, capacity crowds and big buzz right from the start. Can’t risk messing up the momentum we have going right now.

    Orlando City seems to have a good thing going. Probably a lot of good ideas that MLS, NASL, USAA teams can put to good use. Whether they deserve their own MLS team right now?, I’m yet to be convinced.

  106. CosmosCanWork says:

    I def agree with you. Though we need to be clear that Orlando is in no-way comparable to NYC in terms of TV viewership and sports market. Orlando has 1 sport team. NYC has 10 sports teams

  107. evan says:

    i think a 21-team league with 3 divisions of 7 would work just fine, fit in NY and Orlando…

  108. Red says:

    Let’s see, Tampa Bay and South Florida were proven failures therefore MLS soccer will fail miserably there again. Orlando, number three in Florida situated between the two, with no real soccer background and one year of Division III soccer, will be the best thing to happen to MLS if they give them a team.

    You’re logic is as clear as mud.

  109. Red says:

    But how many of them were give aways?

  110. Red says:

    Doesn’t matter how deep pocketed those investors are, Orlando is a terrible city that has failure written all over it. Don Garber should avoid it at all costs.

  111. Red says:

    Eugene Melnyk, the owner of the Senators, wanted a soccer specific stadium built next door to his hockey arena where his Senators play, which is located in Kanata, way out in the west end of the region. He wanted the municipality to pay for his stadium, but they gave the money to the prospective owners of a Canadian Football League team to build a stadium at Lansdowne in the heart of Ottawa.

    Melnyk’s dreams of a MLS team in Kanata are dead.

  112. Red says:

    And I think you’re delusional.

  113. Red says:

    There are locations in the U.S. southeast that MLS can look into. Orlando is not one of them. Hardly any pro soccer background, only a rickety gridion football stadium to speak of, a city where tourism is the main industry. Orlando has loser written all over it. Don Garber needs to ignore this city like the plague.