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MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER MAKES IT OFFICIAL, SEE YA' IN '96
Published November 17, 1994
MLS Chair Alan Rothenberg made several announcements yesterday concerning the development of the league -- including new franchise cities and a list of investors. The charter investors -- VA billionaire John Kluge and Metromedia Exec VP Stuart Subotnick, the Hunt family (owners of the Chiefs), API Soccer, headed by Kevin Payne, and LA Soccer Partners, headed by L.A. investor Marc Rapaport -- will form the financial and operational base for the new league that will commence play in April 1996. MLS will have a minimum of 10, with possibly as many as 12 teams. Additionally, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: "I fully support MLS and look forward to their playing in Foxboro Stadium. In 1995, I will meet with MLS officials and examine the opportunity to become one of the investors and team operators" (MLS). Two cities were added to the franchise list, Tampa and Chicago. Other cities already awarded franchises: Washington, L.A., San Jose, Columbus, Foxboro/Boston, Northern NJ and Long Island. The Long Island franchise will not begin until '97 (WASHINGTON POST, 11/17). Other candidates for franchises include: Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Miami, San Diego, Tulsa and at least one Canadian city (Mult., 11/17). WHAT NEXT? Rothenberg says that in the next 18 months, MLS will be "busy promoting itself, taking cues from the expansion teams in other American sports" (David Waldstein, N.Y. POST, 11/17). In Hartford, Jerry Trecker implies that MLS merchandise may precede the actual playing of games (HARTFORD COURANT, 11/17). Exhibitions between national teams and pro clubs will be staged in MLS-designated stadiums in '95 (Frank Dell'Apa, BOSTON GLOBE, 11/17). One big change from MLS's original strategy is that the investors will in fact run their own teams. Originally, MLS planned on running the league on a single-entity basis, but "when investors became reluctant to accept such a venture," Rothenberg shifted (Alex Yannis, N.Y. TIMES, 11/17). OTHER SOCCER NEWS: The MLS is being challenged by the American Professional Soccer League, which is moving to occupy major markets and sign up top U.S. players before MLS gets started. A press conference today in Atlanta will introduce the franchise's new name, logo and ad campaign (Doug Cress, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 11/17).