As Philadelphia recently is the front-runner for the 16th expansion team in Major League Soccer there has been recent word from Atlanta and Miami that they are both interested in getting a MLS expansion franchise.
There was a story that was recently published in the Atlanta Journal Constitution that the owner of the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL, Arthur Blank is looking to expand his sports empire beyond football. Blank was quoted as saying the interview that he is “actively looking” at the possibility of bringing a MLS expansion team to Atlanta. Blank went on to say in the interview that they are just exploring their options right now and that the city of Atlanta would need a stadium that is exclusively for soccer. Blank stated, “We’re out looking at stadium sites right now, in a variety of places” Blank is a billionaire and it would be no problem for him to afford, or find investors for, an expansion MLS club and the stadium.
Atlanta would seem like a perfect fit for the MLS considering that the city has the 9th largest television market in America. It is also the case that the MLS does not have any teams in the south, as the closest two teams to the southern region are the ones in Texas and D.C. United in Washington D.C.
Miami has also been looking into plans of bringing an MLS expansion team to the biggest city in Florida. Miami also has a very large television market, which is attractive to the MLS. In a recent interview with the Florida Sun-Sentinel the mayor of Miami Manny Diaz said, “MLS is looking at us for 2011. They’re looking at us very seriously. I think if we can get a deal [with investors], we’ll get a team. [MLS Commissioner] Don Garber and I have been talking for a long time.”
If either Miami or Atlanta, and it looks like both, were to receive expansion teams the MLS would be in every geographic region in the United States. The MLS has an 18-team limit and with Atlanta and Miami being more lucrative TV markets it could mean that St. Louis may be left out in the cold.