Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Montreal meetings advance expansion prospects
by Ridge Mahoney, December 10th, 2009 7AM

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

[MLS] Montreal Impact owner Joey Saputo has jumped the gun several times regarding his team's entry into Major League Soccer, but a visit by MLS executives Wednesday signals the issue is very much alive.

League commissioner Don Garber and president Mark Abbott visited Montreal to meet with Saputo and members of the Quebec government to measure progress toward obtaining public funding to expand the team's current home, Saputo Stadium, which currently holds 13,034.

Saputo is one of the driving forces behind the new North American Soccer League, which has broken away from United Soccer Leagues (USL) and formed a 10-team alternative league that has applied for sanction by U.S. Soccer. The Impact won the 2009 USL title in October but nonetheless opposes the group, NuRock Soccer Holdings, which bought the USL from Nike in August.

Garber, Abbott, and Saputo met Wednesday morning with Quebec Minister of Finance Raymond Bachand and Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay.

"We continued our discussions with the Saputo family about a future MLS expansion team in Montreal and had very productive meetings with Minister Bachand about securing funding for the expansion of Saputo Stadium," Garber said in a league press release following the meetings. "We've stated many times that Montreal would be a great market for MLS and we look forward to continuing our discussions."

There is strong support for a Montreal entry among members of the Board of Governors, who nonetheless want financial assurances and solid governmental backing before approving a stadium renovation plan.

Another snag is a 20th team to accompany Montreal as the 19th. Though several cities continue to interest the league, including St. Louis, Ottawa, and Atlanta, Saputo's latest proclamation that Montreal will play in MLS starting in 2012 may be yet another premature statement. David Beckham's contract includes an option on an MLS team, which he could exercise when his five-year contract expires at the end of the 2011 season.

Almost from the day the stadium opened, in May of last year, Saputo began issuing periodic public declarations that the move to MLS was imminent. Just over a year ago, Montreal - one of seven candidates to obtain two available expansion slots for 2011 -- dropped out of the selection process by which applications from Vancouver and Portland were officially approved by the league's Board of Governors last March.

Garber at first said Montreal had pulled out, Saputo quickly informed the press and public that the Board had done the pulling. The Board had judged Montreal's financial commitment didn't measure up to MLS standards, and the team needed to raise additional capital to pay a US$40 million expansion fee as well as fund expansion of the stadium. Vancouver and Portland eventually agreed to pay a reduced fee of $35 million; despite the setback last year, Montreal is next in line.

"We are very happy with the visit of the MLS executives in Montreal," said Saputo. "The meetings this morning with Minister Bachand and Mayor Tremblay were very positive. It's clear for us, and now more than ever, that the arrival of MLS in Montreal is only a question of time. We are hoping to have news in the first quarter of 2010."

In that same time frame plans must be finalized to start renovations at PG&E Park in Portland to get it ready in time for the 2011 season at a cost of more than $30 million.

During MLS meeting in the days leading up to MLS Cup, Portland made a presentation of its planned expansion of PG&E Park, its business plans, and marketing data. It has yet to come to an agreement with city officials for the renovation and has not found a site for a baseball facility to house the minor-league Beavers, who play at PG&E Park and would be displaced once the conversion to a 20,000-seat soccer stadium is complete.

 

 



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
49ers and NBA Kings ante up on Sac MLS bid    
Sacramento Republic FC ownership continues to grow with the announcement that San Francisco 49ers owner and ...
U.S. women head to Europe without three stars    
Four months ahead of the 2015 Women's World Cup, the USA heads to Europe for friendlies ...
MLS Live and MLS Direct Kick will return    
Out-of-market packages MLS Live, MLS's subscription streaming service, and MLS Direct Kick, MLS's cable and satellite ...
What They're Saying: Paul Rogers    
"Did I want to pull out [of the U.S. team] this close to a World Cup? ...
MLS Trade Central: Agudelo returns to Revs    
The New England Revolution got a boost for its MLS title hopes when 22-year-old Juan Agudelo ...
Chelsea vs. Man City: Showdown At Stamford Bridge     
On Saturday, two of the most expensive teams money can buy will square off in a ...
What They're Saying: Bob Gansler    
"I'm doing fine. I recovered quite quickly, to their surprise. I was able to leave (the ...
Video Pick: Back-heel volley golazo from Chelsea youngster     
Kasey Palmer, an 18-year-old midfielder, scored this beautiful goal in U-21 action against West Ham.
Obituary: Milton Aimi    
Milton Aimi played a variety of roles in spurring the growth of soccer in Texas and ...
Again, the USA wilts in the second half    
The USA's performance in a 3-2 loss to Chile on Wednesday raises lots of questions and ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives