SBD/July 31, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Garber Indicates More MLS Expansion Is On The Way; Sacramento Sets Sights On Team

Garber (l) said MLS owners will discuss expansion during the All-Star break
MLS Commissioner Don Garber yesterday said that "more change is on the way" for the league after the Crew switched ownership groups, "though future developments should be expected in the form of expansion," according to Sam McDowell of the K.C. STAR. Garber "pointed to new ownership in the MLS as a sign of what’s to come." Garber said that "more expansion appears likely," and added that the league's owners "planned to discuss the topic during meetings over the All-Star break." The question, it "seems, is no longer if expansion is on the horizon but rather when it will come." Garber: "We believe the MLS will be bigger. The driver of expansion is to grow the scale of our business -- the overall size of our fan base (and) the geographical coverage of our league -- so we can have more people following us. … But we have to go about it the right way" (K.C. STAR, 7/31).

SACTO WANTS IN ON PRO SOCCER: Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson yesterday said that he would "like to see two potential MLS ownership groups with local ties combine forces." In Sacramento, Ryan Lillis notes "one of those groups" is led by USL Pro Sacramento Republic FC Owner Warren Smith, whose team is scheduled to begin playing next year, while the other group is "trying to lure MLS and build a stadium" in Elk Grove, Calif. Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis said of the two groups, "I'm really hopeful that we do end up working collaboratively. The offer has been and continues to be there." The Sacramento contingent "appears less willing to collaborate." Smith is meeting with MLS officials and said that the league "favors 'downtown, urban core stadiums' with easy access to restaurants" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 7/31).

BIG DEAL OR SMALL DEAL? SI.com's Brian Straus wrote of tonight's MLS All-Star Game, which features Serie A club AS Roma, "It may be an exhibition, but there's little question that the competitive juices flow when the opposition is a well-known foreign team like Roma." MLS "wants to impress, even if the actual stakes are low." Like "most All-Star games, it will be a night largely about fun." But there is "little question that this particular All-Star game is also about pride" (SI.com, 7/30). In K.C., Yael Abouhalkah wrote the All-Star Game "is not really that big of a deal in the U.S. world of sports." The '12 MLB All-Star Game "brought around 40,000 people to Kauffman; the Sporting Park crowd likely will be a sellout but less than 20,000 people." You "don’t have to be a soccer lover or hater to realize that having an All-Star Game in Kansas City is a special deal." It is "just not that big of one in the overall scheme of things for sports fans" (K.C. STAR, 7/30).
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