Orlando Making Strong Push To Land MLS' Next Expansion Franchise
With N.Y. "not exactly ready for MLS," Orlando has been thrust "toward the front of the race" to land the league's next expansion franchise, according to Brian Straus of SPORTING NEWS. MLS Commissioner Don Garber will meet on March 1 with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, city leaders and fans of USL Pro club Orlando City, which "has every intention of transitioning from minor to major league.” Garber said, “While New York City remains the League’s focus for our 20th club, it’s important to continue evaluating future options as we continue to grow the league.” Garber's visit will include “a ‘town hall’ style interaction with fans at an Orlando restaurant.” The trip will “coincide with the third Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic, a preseason tournament that will feature City, six MLS clubs and Sweden’s BK Häcken and run Feb. 24-March 3.” The key to Orlando’s bid “will, of course, be a stadium.” Paying the expansion fee, which “will top the $40 million paid by Montreal, won’t be a problem." And "additional investors are waiting in the wings if progress is made.” Orlando City Owner & President Phil Rawlins “already has been exploring a permanent, soccer-specific stadium solution for his club” (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 2/22). Garber said, "We need to be in Florida at some point" (SOCCERBYIVES.net, 2/23).