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SBD/March 14, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies
Don Garber Still Advocating Wilpons As MLS Franchise Owners
Published March 14, 2011
SWEET 16? In L.A., Grahame Jones noted MLS kicks off its 16th season tomorrow night, and Garber on Friday was "happily talking about expansion and the planned construction of new stadiums." MLS is adding two teams this season -- the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps -- and a new soccer-specific stadium in K.C. These are "positive moves, but they should not be allowed to overshadow that the product on the field will ultimately determine the league's success." Can MLS "overcome the notion that it is now and forever will be a second-tier operation, a feeder-league whose brightest young shooting stars sooner or later arc across the Atlantic night sky to make their fortunes in Europe?" For now, Garber's "focus is on the business side." He talks about the Kraft family "actively seeking a site for a stadium in downtown Boston" for the Revolution, and the "crying need for a stadium" in the DC area. Garber also "talks about possible expansion teams in all sorts of places where the MLS flag does not fly." He said, "I believe we will be larger than 20 teams. I can't say when that will be. But I can't imagine that when this league is fully expanded we won't have teams in the Southeast, that we don't have another team in the Midwest, that we're not even expanding to the southern part of California." Jones wrote, "Sooner or later the limit will have been reached, the stadiums all will have been built and attention will necessarily shift from bricks and mortar to flesh and blood. In the meantime, a little more attention to the way MLS teams play rather than where they play would be welcome" (L.A. TIMES, 3/13). Ahead of tomorrow night's Galaxy-Sounders season opener, Garber said, "I’d say this is the most anticipated season in our history. We’ve had a period of pretty good growth, especially in the Pacific Northwest. It certainly wasn’t our intent (to shift from East to West), but there was a dearth of professional soccer in that area for many years, and the minor-league clubs were very popular, and it just worked out that way" (MIAMI HERALD, 3/12).