Cities need to communicate about, not compete for MLS

MLS recently has announced that it has opened bidding for expansion franchise slots in the league… groups have scrambled to put together stadium bids featuring quite a bit of public money. Recent reports have put the numbers at

$113m in Charlotte
$129m in St. Louis
$50m in Louisville
Undisclosed in Nashville

We currently don’t know if Phoenix, Cincinnati, San Diego, Miami, Tampa Bay, San Antonio, Raleigh/Durham, or Detroit are going to eventually ask for money. Based on the closed league (artificial scarcity) model employed by owners in all the major sports in the US, I think we should expect many of them to do so. Currently only Sacramento has submitted a plan that does not call for public funding to support their stadium project.

This list also doesn’t include the hundreds of millions being spend by current MLS cities to keep their teams happy and not moving to one of these cities who would like Division 1 American soccer.

As we have discussed in previous posts the Co-D2 model that the USSF currently employs has opened the door for a new professional soccer league system with a (not MLS) Division 1 soccer league at the top. An open soccer pyramid would be very beneficial for small business owners nationwide and help protect cities/states from losing their local team to relocation. With potentially every city in the country participating in the league system at one level or another, it would be impossible to pit community vs community for free/reduced cost stadiums and tax breaks at the threat of losing “our team”.

Recent statements from USASA have stated that they are in the process of restructuring the massive lower divisions of soccer in the United States. If the leaders of these 10+ cities interested in MLS expansion would come together they could help facilitate a structural change at the top of the soccer pyramid as well.

NASL last season had broadcast deals, while not as lucrative financially, that were equal to if not better than MLS in ease of access of games for it’s clubs fans. It is very conceivable that this new league system could in Year 1 rival the established MLS in media coverage for fans by staying partnered with CBS Sports, BeIN Sports, and ESPN3.

This new league system would also be sanctioned at the same level as MLS by USSF as a Division 1 league. Think AFL vs NFL but with one side as closed system of franchise owners and the other of independent clubs in every community in the country.

These MLS expansion candidate community leaders need to be talking with each other about how to change the system of sports owners and single entity leagues holding cities, counties and states hostage instead of competing with each other.

A little political pressure… that might be all it takes.