Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Plug pulled on Miami bid
by Ridge Mahoney, March 4th, 2009 7AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

MLS has released a statement that by mutual consent, MLS and prospective operator-investor Marcelo Claure have agreed to terminate Miami's application to field an expansion team in 2010.

"I want to thank both FC Barcelona and Marcelo Claure for the tremendous effort to bring an MLS expansion team to Miami," said league commissioner Don Garber in a league press release. "FC Barcelona is one of the best managed and strategically operated sporting clubs in any sport in the world and I appreciate the opportunity that we have had to work with them and Marcelo Claure over the last few months."

The announcement ends months of speculation regarding the viability, or lack thereof, regarding Miami's bid, but leaves many threads unraveled. While the prospect an MLS return to Miami, where the Fusion operated for four seasons (1998-2001) before being contracted along with Tampa Bay, was saluted in some circles, including numerous media members, Garber expressed qualms about the Miami bid even before it was officially submitted.

Concerns regarding the Miami professional sports market and a proposed facility-sharing arrangement at the Florida International University football stadium, which has artificial turf, and other issues were raised by Garber. MLS and Barcelona formed a five-year strategic partnership in 2008; independently, Claure and Laporta agreed on a joint expansion bid, one of seven original applications submitted for evaluation in the next round of expansion, set for 2011.

During a vacation in Spain last month, Garber met with Barcelona president Joan Laporta, and for the first time announced that if Miami's bid was accepted, the team would begin play in 2010, not 2011, as Claure had insisted from the beginning. Last week at club's regular financial meeting, Barcelona CEO Joan Oliver expressed concerns about its obligation to the MLS project.

Claure, a Bolivian-born millionaire and founder of Brightstar Corporation, a telecommunications manufacturer and distributor of cell phones and accessories, wireless data equipment, and prepaid wireless products, had last year formed a alliance with Spanish club Barcelona to apply for an MLS expansion franchise. Formerly the president of Bolivia's Club Bolivar, Claure had worked with the Spanish club on exchanges and development programs.

"It was one of the most unfair dates in the world, for we signed a collaboration agreement," said Claure in an interview last November. "We are allowed to send players, managers and coaches to each other's teams. Obviously, he has not sent one and I have sent as many people as I can."

In 2007, Brightstar - based in Miami - listed 3,500 employees and revenues of $4.4 billion. Not known is how far those figures dropped in 2008 due to the severe economic downturn in many parts of the world. Brightstar does a great deal of business in South America, where access to cell phones and telecommunication services is limited by topography and vast distances between population centers.

Seldom mentioned in press reports but very much a sticking point, according to two sources, was adidas' objection to allowing perhaps the most prominent Nike team property into the league. In 2004, adidas signed an exclusive outfitting contract with MLS that runs for 10 years and is worth more than $100 million. Nike and Barcelona are locked into a sponsorship deal that doesn't expire until 2013.

In the November interview, Claure said, "There are some issues we need to take care of. The stadium is one, MLS is not happy with everything. There is a league sponsor and it is not Nike, so we need to take care of that."

Apparently, enough issues couldn't be taken care of to eliminate Miami for now, though all parties concerned expressed the possibility of Miami trying again in the future.

The withdrawal of Miami leaves four possible expansion candidates, should MLS stick to its timetable and announce the two 2011 teams in the next few weeks: Vancouver, Portland, Ottawa and St. Louis.

St. Louis has failed to secure a lead investor and impressed as the MLS Board of Governors were by the Ottawa bid, which includes a viable stadium project, during the MLS SuperDraft Garber hailed the "possibility" of renewing Northwest rivalries in Vancouver and Portland if they were to follow Seattle into MLS.

Problems with stadium projects in both Vancouver and Portland taint their bids, and a bleak economic landscape might suggest caution -- and a hiatus on expansion -- as a prudent course. But adding two more teams at $40 million per may trump all else, wisely or not.

 



No comments yet.

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




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
MLS Today: Hunt for points intensifies    
Big rivalry matches will be played each day over the weekend -- Houston-FC Dallas, NYCFC-Red Bulls ...
MLS Closeup: By dominating at home Dynamo defies critics    
So far in this MLS season, several teams are posting remarkable records that are mirror images: ...
What They're Saying: Francisco Rios    
"The first thing I did this year when the schedule came out was to check to ...
USMNT: Our 23 picks for the Gold Cup    
U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena will announce his 23-player roster for the Gold Cup on ...
MLS: DP Qazaishvili gives Quakes new look up front    
Valeri "Vako" Qazaishvili scored 21 goals in 2014-15 and 2015-16 with Dutch club Vitesse and is ...
What They're Saying: Dax McCarty    
"You can take the ginger out of NY, but NY will still be red. Good luck ...
Texan McKinze Gaines moves to Darmstadt     
McKinze Gaines, the 19-year-old South Texas product who last season helped VfL Wolfsburg reach the U-19 ...
Confederations Cup: Sanchez sets Chile record in 1-1 tie    
Alexis Sanchez became Chile's all-time leading scorer with his 38th international goal, but the South American ...
Video Pick: Cabrera quest for creativity works for Dynamo     
Wilmer Cabrera, who played on the great Colombia team of the 1990s, has since taking the ...
Saief's switch to represent USA is approved by FIFA    
Israeli-American Kenny Saief, who plays for Belgium's Gent, has been approved by FIFA for a change ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives