Major League Soccer has announced that in four to six weeks it will unveil plans for a new stadium in New York City to house the league’s 20th team.
Commissioner Don Garber discussed the plans while talking with reporters at halftime of Wednesday night’s contest between Toronto and Montreal at BMO Field. In the conversation Garber informed the public: “We are deeply engaged with potential ownership groups and we’re hopeful to be able to announce a 20th team within the next [four to six weeks].” The winning ownership group is expected to pay an expansion fee of $100 million.
Garber had previously indicated that the league hoped for something definitive on an expansion franchise in Queens by the end of 2013. He reiterated that desire on Wednesday, noting MLS’ progress in getting a deal done. “We’re making progress,” Garber said of talks with New York City. “We continue – you’ve heard this for the last year – but we continue to negotiate with the City of New York and meet with local political folks and community leaders to get support for the stadium we hope to build in Flushing Meadow Park.”
When asked if the New York Cosmos were going to be the 20th team, Garber refused to answer instead saying that he and MLS support what the NASL is doing. Garber did claim, however, that he believes MLS will continue its expansion beyond 20 teams by the end of 2020. But 30 teams? That would be too much of a leap. “It’s hard to imagine we’d have 30 teams,” Garber said. “The other major leagues are around that size, they’ve been around 100 years.”
The league and the City have previously been engaged in negotiations to build a stadium on a ten acre site in the Queens-based park with the goal of having a team begin playing there by 2016. On Thursday, Garber spoke again on the issue with the Associated Press, informing reporters that there are no other possible sites for a new stadium. “If we get this done, it will be in Flushing Meadow Park. There is no Plan B.”
While New York is the league’s preferred choice for expansion, Orlando, Miami and Atlanta have all been linked as possible MLS expansions while USL Pro side Orlando City recently secured a $8.2m downtown parcel of land where they plan to build a new soccer-specific stadium.