The MLS Expansion Wheel Points to… Orlando?
Ah the never ending fun of MLS expansion talk. Because no league can have an odd number of teams, speculation over who will be the 20th MLS team is always a source of debate and discussion for U.S. soccer fans. Everyone assumes that the New York Cosmos will be the newest MLS franchise and, if I was a betting man, I’d put some cash down on that idea. However, there are still some issues to be worked out between MLS and the Cosmos ownership, including stadium location and entrance fee.
So, to keep the fans interested, MLS is visiting other cities to raise their hopes that, even if they are not #20, they could be #21 or #22 (or, dare we say #23 or #24?). The next stop on their tour is the city of Orlando, which has a USL team already but would offer a number of major advantages. Orlando is a huge meetings and convention city, thus ensuring visitors could help fill the stadium. They would be the only MLS franchise in Florida and essentially the only one in the South except for the two Texas franchises. The negative, of course, is the failure of the two previous MLS teams in Florida but that has not stopped the league from trying to take a second look at the state.
“While New York City remains the league’s focus for our 20th club, it’s important to continue evaluating future options as we continue to grow the league,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “This growth has been built on a foundation of strategic expansion strategies, construction of new urban-based stadiums and a growing passionate soccer fan base across North America.”
For those interested in convincing the league of the value of an MLS franchise in the city, Garber will first meet with Orlando’s elected leadership as well as the owners of Orlando City. They will undoubtedly discuss expansion of the team’s grounds, support for a top-flight soccer franchise, and potential revenue from a promotion or rebranding of the current team. Garber will also be meeting with the public and fans at Mojo Cajun Bar beginning at 12:30 (doors open at 11:30) to gauge local support.
What do you think? Would Orlando make a good 20th or 21st MLS franchise?