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Seven groups submit expansion bids
by Paul Kennedy, October 16th, 2008 7AM

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[MLS] Seven prospective ownership groups from markets throughout the United States and Canada submitted applications to join  Major League Soccer, which is expected  to add a 17th and 18th team in 2011. The groups include FC Barcelona, owners of teams in the NFL, NHL and EPL and an NBA star. Three groups include USL owners. Here is a look at the ownership groups and their stadium plans ...

ATLANTA.
Ownership Group: Arthur Blank, Home Depot co-founder and owner of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons.
Stadium: Kennesaw State University, in Cobb County, is emerging as a top candidate to host a stadium. Other sites could be in Gwinnett and College Park, south of Atlanta and near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

MIAMI.
Ownership Group: FC Barcelona and Miami resident Marcelo Claure, owner of Brightstar Corporation, the largest Hispanic-owned business in the United States, and Bolivian club Bolivar.
Stadium: The group has entered into a five-year agreement to play at Florida International University's recently completed football stadium.

MONTREAL.
Ownership Group: Saputo and Gillett families. The Saputos own the USL-1's Montreal Impact. George Gillett Jr. owns the NHL Montreal Canadiens and is co-owner of Liverpool FC.
Stadium: Stade Saputo, which opened in 2008, seats 13,000.

OTTAWA.
Ownership Group: Ottawa Senators (NHL) owner Eugene Melnyk.
Stadium: There are plans for a 30,000-capacity stadium in Kanata near Scotiabank Place.

PORTLAND.
Ownership Group: Family group headed by Merritt Paulson, who owns both the minor league baseball Portland Beavers and USL-1's Portland Timbers.
Stadium: There are plans to spend $40 million to upgrade PGE Park in downtown Portland.

ST. LOUIS.
Ownership Group: Investment group led by Jeff Cooper, who is also the owner of the Women's Professional Soccer team in St. Louis.
Stadium: A 400-acre tract of land in Collinsville, Ill., has been secured for a 18,500-seat soccer-specific stadium, youth soccer complex and surrounding retail and community development.

VANCOUVER.
Ownership Group: Greg Kerfoot (owner of the USL-1 champion Whitecaps), NBA star Steve Nash and former Yahoo! president Jeff Mallett.
Stadium: Retrofitted B.C. Place (capacity: 60,000) will be the Vancouver team's home until a soccer stadium is built.



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