This story just keeps gaining momentum.
With David Beckham recently seen loitering with intent in Miami, and Orlando City hiring MLS Commissioner Don Garber’s ‘special assistant’ to their front office, Florida is getting serious about bringing MLS back to the Sunshine State.
We all knew this was coming, with Orlando City’s huge amounts of work and Beckham meeting billionaire’s court side at Heat games, the writing has been on the wall for a while. But we’ve heard it all before.
However now it seems to be different, MLS returning to Florida for the first time since 2001 could be on the cards.
And this morning a new story popped up in the South Florida Sun Sentinel, as Major League Soccer’s executive vice president of communications Dan Courtemanche, revealed the league is making plans for expansion in the Southeast.
We’re going to start to formulate our plan for the future and potential growth for beyond 20 teams. We certainly believe that an MLS team could be very successful in both South Florida and Central Florida.
Courtemanche went on to reveal how impressed the league is that Miami ranks inside the top 10 in TV viewer ratings for MLS games.
That’s including the fact that we have 16 teams in the United States. That’s pretty strong for a market that doesn’t have an MLS team. We eventually want to have a team in the Southeast. It provides geographical balance, and we also think a team, or potentially multiple teams, in the Southeast could be very successful.
This is the first-time we’ve heard this kind of forthright and steady support for MLS in Florida from league officials. Don Garber has spoke about his admiration for what Orlando City Soccer Club are doing, after hiring Brett Lashbrook and working with the City of Orlando to get a new soccer-specific stadium. But the league hasn’t really come out and openly stated its ambitions to expand in the Southeast. Until now.
This is a huge deal for soccer fans in that region. Courtemanche was key to point out in his comments that franchises in both South Florida and Central Florida could be successful. That would link in reports that surfaced on Wednesday, regarding two MLS franchises to be present in Miami and Orlando by 2016. It’s all fitting together nicely now.
Yes, everyone will point to the failure of the Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny back in the day. But that was a different time and there were a whole bunch of other factors that went into why their crowds suffered and both franchises were disbanded in 2001.
Obviously this is just one report in a newspaper. But the quotes from a high-ranking league official are telling. The notion for MLS in Florida seems to be getting stronger by the day. Excited?