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Garber: MLS needs second team in Big Apple
by Paul Kennedy, November 26th, 2012 11:19PM
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TAGS:  mls, new york red bulls, soccer business


[MLS EXPANSION: New York] MLS already has one team -- the New York Red Bulls -- in the New York metropolitan area, but MLS Commissioner Don Garber says the league needs a second New York team -- in one of the five boroughs -- to break through the clutter of the New York sports market.

"We believe that this second team in New York will help create an opportunity to break through the clutter in this market of almost a dozen professional sports teams," Garber said during a Monday telephone conference call with reporters.

Garber's comments come after Jerome de Bontin, the new general manager of the Red Bulls, who are based in New Jersey, recently said adding a second New York team might be premature.

"No team has a right to block an expansion team in a new market," Garber said. “I’m not at all concerned about Jerome’s point of view. It’s just part of being new. We have full support of the Red Bull owners. We've had it for many years."

Garber says MLS is at "the finish line" in talks with New York City officials on a deal to acquire land to build a stadium in the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park section of Queens that would become home for the league’s 20th team.

MLS President Mark Abbott recently called Flushing Meadows-Corona Park "probably the most diverse community not just in New York City, not just the country, but arguably the world."

The soccer stadium is one of a handful of projects on a special list Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office is hoping to push through before his term ends in 14 months, to New York Post recently reported.

Garber added that many New Yorkers love soccer.

"We need to give them all an opportunity to stop for a moment and pay attention to Major League Soccer, to pay more attention to the Red Bulls, to pay attention to this 20th team and create very, very special moments for soccer in the New York metropolitan area."

He said the goal was to have a team in New York in 2016 but lots of details needed to be worked out before construction on a soccer stadium could begin.

"I do believe that we will resolve that shortly," he said. "I can’t put any timetable on that, but we are at the finish line. Once we are there, we’ve got to go into a formal approval process that all developers have to go through in New York City. That will take some time. We need to reach an agreement with the city, with the local community and with the state of New York on replacing the land that we will be utilizing for the stadium."

On other expansion topics ...

-- Garber rebutted talks of David Beckham becoming an owner of an MLS club is New York.

"Anything’s a possibility other than his right to exercise that option in New York," he said. "So there is a possibility for him to work with league office to find ways to transfer that option into an opportunity in LA. It's way too premature to talk about that or even speculate about what that would look like. But that opportunity does exist if it meets the approval of the league … David holds the option and the LA Galaxy would have to be part of that discussion." (AEG, which owns the Galaxy, is up for sale.)

-- Garber said MLS needed to move into the South, where Miami, Orlando and Atlanta have been mentioned as possibilities.

"It isn’t a matter of if," he said. "It’s a matter of when. And it’s probably a matter of where. We continue to believe Florida needs an MLS team. At some point, I think, it would make sense for a team in Miami. I don’t know when that is; it’s certainly not now. That market continues to change, continues to evolve demographically ... and continues to be an intriguing market for us. We have a spent a lot of time with [USL Orlando City owner] Phil Rawlins. I would call him a friend of the league. We are very impressed with what he is doing. I have spent time with Phil and his ownership group and met with [Orlando officials] with what might happen with the football stadium but also with potential plans for a soccer stadium.

  1. David Knopf
    commented on: November 27, 2012 at 8:10 a.m.
    Break through the clutter by adding to it? I think the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, where soccer was popular before Americans knew what it was, could support a second team. But while I've agreed with much if not all that Garber's done for MLS, I think he's missing the point here. Why not put the next franchise in a city where MLS can be the show, not fragment of it? A city like San Diego, with its strong indoor and youth soccer traditions, is close to Mexico and is a natural spot for an MLS team. I don't imagine Garber's going to change his mind, but if Chivas USA gets out of the Galaxy's shadow, why not do it in a great market like San Diego?
  1. Roland Barral
    commented on: November 27, 2012 at 9:24 a.m.
    David Knopf is right on target about choosing the right location for an expansion team. Putting a second team in the NYC area is just plain nuts!. While MLS should expand, it should expand strategically. The fan base for the Red Bulls is already very thin. The team cannot fill the arena for any games. Putting a seond team in the NYC will signficantly dilute the already thin fan base and jeopardize not only the new team, but the Red Bulls as well. MLS should not rush to development without a plan. How about the several possible locations in Florida without an MLS team, how about Charlotte or Raliegh, NC, Altanta, or San Diego. MLS -- get smart!
  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: November 27, 2012 at 10:28 a.m.
    Prioriyies should be to get DC and NE new stadiums; and Crew needs better fan support. As for expansion, where's the talent? Expansion in the MLS is a talent diluting factor...over 50% of MLS players have a below average soccer IQ and lack consistent efficacy. Building a solid talent pool is key to expansion.
  1. Glenn Maddock
    commented on: November 27, 2012 at 12:02 p.m.
    The reality is Garber has been a very successful commisioner, so he wants to get his way now. He's a New Yorker and thinks being in the largest TV market is a good business decision. San Antonio has good potential, as you guys mention, but its still too new of a successful soccer market. You have 1 year of attendence success. You need about 5 years before MLS will come looking for owners there to build an MLS stadium. Florida is a big TV market, and why they want to go there again, but none of the cities have show huge soccer support. Tampa actually does better in attendance than Orlando & Miami, which Garber mentions. In my view, the best option for San Antonio, perhaps San Diego or Florida, would be to get Chivas USA to move there. Their deal in LA was a big mistake. It has not worked. They need their own city and market and stadium. Getting them to move is more likely than expansion for those markets.
  1. Mathew Macdonald
    commented on: November 27, 2012 at 2:27 p.m.
    Garber and MLS are focused on the wrong things. They think that unless they are popular teams in N.Y. and L.A., the league is a failure, and they are going to have two teams in each city to - in their minds - help ensure that this will be the case. The league should focus more on entering parts of the country where it does not currently exist, especially in the South, but also in places like Minnesota and otherwise. And it's not like MLS needs to succeed in New York and Los Angeles to be a top league. Look at the NFL - the Giants and Jets are popular, but not incredibly so, and Los Angeles does not even have a single team, yet somehow that league is by far the most popular sports league in this country. The focus needs to be on the places in the country that want MLS, not trying to convince places that have little interest that they actually do want it.
  1. Roland Barral
    commented on: November 27, 2012 at 6:09 p.m.
    I see that most comments posted are in sync. I am a Red Bulls season ticket holder. The Red Bulls cannot fill the arena now even though they draw fans from NJ and NY. Putting a 2nd MLS team in NY will guarantee having 2 empty arenas. Best to focus on attracting a fan base in parts of the country that lack a nearby MLS team.
  1. Gak Foodsource
    commented on: November 27, 2012 at 8:36 p.m.
    Garber and MLS drool at the sight of 80,000 plus filling the meadowlands for international or european club friendlies. There are undoubtedly millions of soccer fans in NYC, but it is going to take a long time to get them on board, longer than Gulati and Garber want to admit. I don't disagree with the focus on NYC. Where I would be concerned is if the league has to go into significant debt to fund the team. MLS revenue is already paper thin, and it cannot afford any additional dead weight clubs. In the end its all about the product. 80,000 people will come watch Messi and Neymar, but 20,000 won't come watch Henry and Cahill. A team in Queens won't change that.
  1. Bill Morrison
    commented on: November 28, 2012 at 3:43 a.m.
    Putting a second team in NY is idiotic; as others have stated, the Red Bulls can't even fill their stadium on a consistent basis. Look at the other city that has two teams, LA. The Galaxy draw pretty well, Chivas not so well. What's the point of two teams in LA, diluting fan and media interest? Better to focus instead on straightening out the Red Bulls mess to make them a flagship franchise. Expand in the South, make the national footprint bigger.
  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: November 28, 2012 at 3:23 p.m.
    Roland and Bill, the reason NY Red Bull can't fill their park is because the team is mediocre at best...once (when?) the team quality shapes up, they'll get the fan support.

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