Friday, August 2, 2013

MLS Announces Plans for Expansion

Perhaps the biggest storyline from Wednesday’s Major League Soccer All-Star Game came at halftime when MLS Commissioner Don Garber revealed the league’s plan to expand to 24 teams by 2020. This news comes as a clear sign of Garber’s commitment to developing the MLS brand and the continuing identification of new markets within North America.

In speaking to the Associated Press, Garber revealed the league’s hopes of using this expansion to catapult the MLS amidst the ranks of the top leagues in world. “As MLS enters a period of accelerated growth, the addition of new teams will allow us to expand our geographic overage, grow our fan base and help us achieve our vision of being among the best leagues in the world by 2022.” 

The MLS currently features 19 teams and is set to add it’s 20th franchise by 2015, New York City Football Club. NYC F.C., the brainchild of Premier League heavyweight, Manchester City, and the New York Yankees, will be the 10th expansion team for the MLS since 2005.

Since the league’s birth in 1993, soccer in North America has been discredited, until now. With MLS television ratings at an all time high and a steady increase in attendance of matches, it sure seems this is the MLS’s decisive move to advance the image of the league. “The overall growth of the sport has been so dramatic over the last number of years by almost any measure. Whether it’s the league or the national team or the women’s game, all developments are sort of proving the fact that we’re a soccer nation”, says Garber.

Garber provided insight to a checklist being used to select the four expansion markets:
·      Geographic location
·      Committed and engaged ownership
·      Comprehensive stadium plan
·      Support of fans, sponsors, and TV partners for professional soccer
·      Strategic business plan to launch new club

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