Thursday, May 04, 2006

Could MLS be in Philadelphia by 2007?

The MLS has wanted in the Philadelphia area since it came into being and just a month ago it looked like the date for the arrival would be 2009. However, Milestone University Investments, LLC., the same people negotiating with Rowan University officials to develop a 20,000-seat soccer stadium, have put forward a proposal that would move the date up a couple years as they would like to bring either an expansion or relocated MLS franchise to the area next season.

"It is anticipated that the team will play at Lincoln Financial Field, Franklin Field, Villanova University or a similar venue, giving the team immediate identity and presence in Philadelphia," the proposal states. The proposal also includes a $16.5 million allocation for a franchise fee.

For his part, MLS President Mark Abbott has not ruled out the idea of a team in the area for 2007, however he thinks getting the stadium deal finalized is of greater priority.

If Philadelphia is awarded a new team for 2007, they will join Toronto as league rookies. This would also bring the total number of teams in MLS to 14. However, Abbott does not think the number of teams should be considered when it comes to award franchises.

"The league could move forward with an odd number of teams," Abbott said. "We expand when it makes sense. We're not going to be driven by even numbers."

If Milestone is awarded a team, they will move to the Rowan campus site once it opens.

I do wonder if MLS would grant them a new team or if they would look to move someone. Kansas City is always a possibility. With it's low attendance numbers and Lamar Hunt's desire to sell, plus the possibility that they might not have a place to play in 2007 (Arrowhead will be under renovation), a move to Philadelphia might not be the worst idea. MLS could then say that once a SSS is built, a new Kansas City Wizards team will return (for further example look to San Jose).

Another advantage to moving a team over creating a new one, they will probably perform better in their first year thus allowing interested fans to see a team that might actually win some games.

Finally, if they were award a new franchise, they would have to move very quickly to put everything together. With less then a year till the team's first kick, a lot of pieces would have to fall into place to make it work.



Blogger Michael Martin said...

Regarding South Jersey MLS, you're right that the team would have to move very quickly in order to be up and running in 2007. FC South Jersey, as I hope they will be called, still is in need of an investor, though the steps in the puzzle, including the developer, are falling into place.

7:37 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home