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Major League Soccer Expansion talk heats up for 3 markets

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So the New York Cosmos have said they will launch a PDL team next year, a far cry from building a stadium and launching a MLS team, but at least they are doing something. I still am not a fan of putting a second team in the New York market, it hasn't been done well or worked well in LA and while NYC seem to have mastered selling kits and t-shirts I see a lot less that looks like a group planning on launching a MLS team. Even with the highest payroll in MLS (over $13,000,000) the New York Red Bulls still aren't selling out their stadium in fact they are averaging about 15,000 (for those who want exact numbers 17,398 or 70% of capacity) so far this year.

I get that there are some that think that they need another big TV market team in NY to create a rival for the Red Bulls, but I think they have great rivals already, the Union and DC United are two that come to mind. I just think that perhaps someday it will be a good move but I don't think that another team in New York is going to improve the league, oh yes you would likely sell some Cosmos kits but let's be honest no team is going to be the Cosmos in MLS, so how about we focus on getting more fans that have no current MLS option into the mix first?

more about the other two markets (Vegas and Minnesota) after the jump:

So what about those options? In the last week two markets have made some small splashes that I consider to be bigger than the NYC's PDL announcement. First up was the announcement that last week a new owner was found for the Las Vegas 51's, you might ask what a minor league baseball team has to do with Major League Soccer and the answer is found in the plans for a multi-stadium development project. Chris Milam recently plunked down a reported $20 million to buy the minor league baseball team which he plans on moving to a $1.9 billion dollar sports complex located on the other side of the 1-15 at the south end of the strip (opposite Mandalay Bay). I personally think that location sucks and when this "Las Vegas National Sports Complex" was first being talked about they had a location in downtown Las Vegas that I think would be much better (but probably a difference in property costs). This is the type of project that Vegas needs to restart some other projects that would benefit from this type of investment and the attention it could bring.

This project is described as:

Milam has labeled the privately financed $1.95 billion project the Las Vegas National Sports Center. With a 9,000-seat ballpark for the 51s, the proposed center, which will be located on a 63-acre parcel, will feature a 17,500-seat arena designed to house an NBA basketball team and a 36,000-seat stadium for a Major League Soccer squad

lvrj.com

Now I have said that I think Vegas would be a great market for MLS, first there is no other major sport to compete against it currently, there is a huge variety in their demographics, they are almost always a top 10 TV market for the MLS and World Cup viewing. There is also the appeal of the international guests that will the hotels on a weekly basis, with so many conventions and other events having a soccer team should allow many visitors an option other than a traditional show or spending even more time in the casinos. You only have to look at the number of kits being worn on the strip or talk to the folks at the Adidas store to know that soccer is being supported today in the market and while they may lack a organized supporters group pushing for a team, we have seen that those can develop quickly.

Then there is Minnesota, where the discussion became much more interesting when the roof of the Metrodome collapsed again. The bill to replace/repair would be over $300 million, so of course the conversation has several possible new stadium projects popping up. The owner of the Vikings has stated in the past that with a new stadium, he would consider also getting a MLS franchise. Now that comes with an up and downside, the up is an owner with the resources to field a NFL team will not have an issue with the franchise fee or expenses to start a MLS team. The downside is that you take a risk of how invested that ownership group would be about their MLS team, with the group in Seattle which is a mix of NFL and soccer guys it has worked out really well for both organizations, but in New England not so much.

You can read about the new stadium here, you will see just this about the MLS prospects:

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf called the Arden Hills property the "ideal site" for a Vikings stadium. "The more we explored it ... the more we felt this was the best place to put a stadium," he said, noting that it creates more opportunity for tailgating and other activities that would make it a day-long "Vikings destination" on game days.

Wilf said he hopes to bring a Major League Soccer team to Minnesota and attract major events such as a Super Bowl and a Final Four. The facility also would be home to a Vikings hall of fame.

bizjournals.com

I thought the look that SB Nation Minnesota did last summer at the possibility of MLS coming here was a good one, so check it our here.

I have to say that is a lot of news for one week that could impact where MLS team #20 lands and expansion beyond that 20th team.

OFF MY SOAPBOX