… for MLS, at least that’s what Arthur Blank is banking on. (Blank banking, Blank banking, Blank banking – say that three times fast.)
Blank made it official on Tuesday, submitting a bid to MLS to bring one of two 2011 expansion clubs into the league. Seattle joins next year, followed by Philadelphia in 2010. That will bring the league to 16 teams, and MLS is preparing to go to 18 in time for ’11. Whether that’s the right move or not is another debate for another time.
But the more pertinent question, given what you read yesterday here on Fighting Talker, is are we now looking at a competition between Atlanta and Miami for what amounts to one spot? I think MLS is very much in love with the idea of adding another Canadian team in 2011. Whether it’s Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, wherever, you wouldn’t have to give me many odds to wager that one of those three cities (most likely Montreal, in my humble opinion) is entering the league in three years.
So if you are Blank, have you just entered a competition that you have no hope of winning? Is this like War Games, where the only winning move is not to play? If Barcelona is going to back the Miami effort, can you imagine MLS saying, no thanks, we’ll try the veal? I can’t believe for a single second that MLS would use its 2011 expansion allotment to put teams in BOTH Miami and Atlanta. I’m not even sure either market is worth messing with in the first place. They surely can’t go into both at the same time.
If nothing else, Barcelona has a world brand. Neither Barcelona nor Blank are going to have any problem coming up with the expected $40 million expansion fee (number according to Soccernet). But what of cities like Portland or St. Louis? If you accept the fact that MLS is going to be eager to either take the money from Barcelona or Blank (co-founder of The Home Depot), and you believe, as I do, that Canada is going to get the other team – then when does the window re-open again for Portland, St. Louis, or perhaps a second team in New York (though it can be argued the New York area doesn’t have an MLS team now)?
I don’t know the answers. I’m just throwing the questions out there. This 2011 expansion is very important to the future health of MLS. They would be wise to tread carefully and make the best decision, rather than being simply blinded by star power.
I hope they get it right.