MLS expansion announcement could be close

By Paul Kennedy

The MLS expansion race looks like it is approaching the finish line, and its 20th club will likely be ...

New York -- the league's top choice all along.

Said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in remarks at a MLB All-Star Game press conference on Wednesday,  “Hopefully, we’re getting close to announcing a new soccer stadium here in Flushing Meadow Park.”

Speaking to reporters in Toronto, where he attended a business forum Wednesday for Canadian sponsors, MLS Commissioner Don Garber first said the league hoped to have an announcement in 3-4 weeks, then took back his remarks and said 4-6 weeks.

MLS's "focus" on New York was confirmed by MLS executive vice president of communications Dan Courtemanche, who later tweeted that "Focus for the 20th team is an expansion team in NYC. Orlando, Atlanta, Miami & others could be post 20."

Wednesday's remarks from Bloomberg and Garber came two days after a forum of New York mayoral candidates to succeed Bloomberg at which none of the nine candidates would say they were "solidly" for or against the stadium.

The biggest concern about the 25,000-seat stadium project appears to be that local citizens don't trust MLS to replace the 13 acres of land at Flushing Meadows Corona Park needed to build the stadium with park space elsewhere.

Asked about his ambivalence, Comptroller John Liu said:

"When they talk about alienating parkland for a stadium, they always make promises of making sure that the parkland is restored in another different park in the borough or in the city. Unfortunately, under this administration, we have seen a couple of other stadiums that have been built, and the parks facilities and spaces not being made available until the public, until a huge amount of public pressure was put to bear on the administration. So, there's a credibility factor here. And I certainly, in the case of the Major League Soccer stadium that's being proposed, and I do believe the administration is pushing behind the scenes, I do not think overall it's a good idea because they haven't shown us exactly where they want to restore the parkland."

ORLANDO PUSH. The latest expansion news came the same day Orlando City -- which has been eyeing the 20th MLS slot -- launched a feverish p.r. blitz to get soccer fans to ask their elected representatives for support of House Bill No.  219 and Senate Bill No. 306 in the Florida legislature to amend a Florida law to include MLS among leagues that get Florida sales tax rebates.

"We really want to get this bill moving," Orlando City President Phil Rawlins told "It's stalled in the House of Representatives."

Orlando has bought land in a downtown area to build a soccer stadium. USL PRO's Orlando City set a club regular-season record with a crowd of more than 9,000 Friday at the Florida Citrus Bowl and it expects another big crowd Saturday against Dayton, having already sold out two sections.
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6 comments about "MLS expansion announcement could be close".
  1. Bill Anderson, April 25, 2013 at 8:09 a.m.

    Until we get a single table / relegation etc... We need a 24 team league. 3 Conferences of 8. Play home and home in conference every year = 14 games. Play home and home out of conference on a bi-annual basis = 16 games. Total = 30 games. This schedule still allows for the extra games MLS builds into the schedule during the summer for Real Madrid, Chelsea etc... friendlies, plus Lamar Hunt US Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League matches. A total of 36 games would be the norm for the season.

  2. Bill Anderson, April 25, 2013 at 8:10 a.m.

    Playoffs = 3 Conference Champions, 3 Runners Up, and 2 Top Points Remaining. 8 Team Playoffs for MLS Cup.

  3. Mike in SoCal, April 25, 2013 at 12:38 p.m.

    Hard to argue against the nice symmetry Bill Anderson lays out with 24 teams and 3 conferences. Florida needs a return of MLS - the SouthEast does in general. If NYC is the 20th, Orlando is probably in-line to get 21. That's an uneven number, same problems we have now with the scheduling. Adding another team would make 22, forming 2 11-team conferences (supposing that one east team like Houston moves west). But odd numbered conferences ultimately mean odd-numbered schedule, so the only best solution eventually, scheduling-wise, is to go to a 24-team league.

  4. Chris Sapien , April 25, 2013 at 1:15 p.m.

    I like it Bill, except, I wasn't aware we were trying to get to a relegation scenario? That would concern me, given the quality of an MLS game attendance experience for the traveling fans may be greatly diminished by inadequate facilities and a lack of local attractions where smaller clubs exist. I could be wrong.......

  5. Nate Nelson, April 26, 2013 at 11:30 a.m.

    How do you feel if your Orlando? You've had to deal with a crappy USL, You want MLS;so you have the money, a piece of land, a city that supports and you know MLS needs a southwest club on their map...What do you say when MLS know all this but says "we want New York" a place without land (don't think its going to be easy to get Bloomberg's done). NY? without someone who says "I am the owner" The Mets don't want to own MLS and they don't want a stadium next to theirs. So Orlando you have it and MLS says..maybe down the road...Sounds suspicious....

  6. Chris Sapien , April 26, 2013 at 1:13 p.m.

    You're right Nate, and Bloomberg's an idiot anyway.......

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