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More Doubts About The $40 Million Expansion Fee

The global recession could be causing the Vancouver Whitecaps and five other ownership groups bidding for two Major League Soccer franchises to re-consider the $40 million franchise fee that MLS is demanding, writes Bruce Constantineau.

He quotes a Sports Business Journal report this week as saying that the Vancouver group won't fully commit to the expansion fee until $278 million is secured for the renovation of BC Place Stadium. However, Vancouver bid applicant Jeff Mallett (part of a four-person ownership group headed by Whitecaps owner Greg Kerfoot, along with NBA star Steve Nash and Boston Celtics part-owner Steve Luczo) stressed the group is confident that the planned renovations will go ahead so that the stadium is ready for MLS play by 2011.

Mallett also said his group still expects to pay a $40-million fee if it is selected to join MLS. "We know the league is looking for $40 million and we respect that," Mallett told Constantineau. "All our financial modeling has been done around the $40 million. When it gets down to the final face-to-face meetings, both sides will look at all things considered and make the appropriate move at that time."

Despite reports about uncertainty over the expansion fee, MLS senior vice president of marketing Dan Courtemanche said the league has no plans to cut it. "Clearly with trying economic conditions, it's a concern for every business as to how they're investing their dollars," he said. "But we still have more interest in MLS expansion now than at any other point in our history. The groups understand the fee and they are moving forward under those guidelines."


Read the whole story at Vancouver Sun »

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