After months of negotiations, MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced in Montreal on Friday that Canada's second-largest city will become home to the league's 19th franchise, to begin play in the 2012 season.
"We are proud to welcome Montreal, the second-largest French-speaking city in the world and a multicultural metropolis whose residents are deeply passionate about the world's game, to Major League Soccer," Garber said Friday.
Joey Saputo, owner of the USSF D2 Montreal Impact, will also assume ownership of the expansion team, which will play at a newly renovated Saputo Stadium. The natural-grass venue will undergo approximately US$22 million in expansion to accommodate crowds of 20,000, some 7,000 more than its current capacity.
Additionally, the new team will play a select number of games at nearby Olympic Stadium, the 66,000-seat venue that once was home to the Montreal Expos.
"I've always said this is no longer a question of 'if,' but of 'when,'" Saputo said. "I can finally say 'when' is here, and it's about time. ... The arrival of MLS in Montreal is nothing short of a revolution for our city and our soccer fans."
Montreal becomes the third Canadian team in MLS, following on the heels of Toronto FC in 2007 and the Vancouver Whitecaps, who will join the league in 2011.
So the question now is who will get franchise number #20 and will the price tag jump from $40 million? I have to hope and believe that someone in the Southeast of the US will step up and get a franchise in such a great soccer market.
OFF MY SOABOX