CFL 5, Melnyk 1

Looks like it is almost official! :thup:

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MLS expected to announce Vancouver expansion team
Last Updated: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 | 3:11 PM ET CBC Sports
Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi speaks at a July news conference to announce the club would pursue an MLS expansion franchise. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)It appears Major League Soccer is officially coming to Vancouver.

The Vancouver Whitecaps are expected to hold a media conference on Wednesday to announce that the club has been selected for one of two MLS expansion franchises scheduled to begin play in 2011.

Currently, the Whitecaps play in the less-prestigious United Soccer League's First Division,

The move to the MLS has been anticipated for some time. Last week, Vancouver radio station TEAM 1040 reported that MLS officials would be in Vancouver this week to officially award the expansion team.

Earlier this month, Vancouver businessman Greg Kerfoot, who owns the Whitecaps, was reportedly negotiating the final details of an agreement with MLS commissioner Don Garber.

Plans are for the new MLS team to replace the existing Whitecaps club and go by the same name, the Globe and Mail reported.

Ottawa, Portland, Ore., and St. Louis, Mo., are in the running for the second expansion franchise, with MLS hoping to announce the successful applicant by March 31.

Ottawa's bid is backed by billionaire Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, but city council is having trouble deciding on competing stadium proposals.

The Vancouver bid appeared to have an edge in that it was the only one with solid financial backing and a completed stadium plan. The new team is expected to play in B.C. Place Stadium, which will be fitted with a retractable roof, according to the Globe and Mail.

Vancouver also has a celebrity investor in NBA superstar Steve Nash, who hails from nearby Victoria.

Nash, a two-time most valuable player in the NBA, is a longtime soccer fan and his younger brother, Martin, currently plays for the Whitecaps.

Sam Sullivan, who was Vancouver's mayor at the time, met with Garber in November to lobby for his city.

Launched in 1996, MLS has grown from an eight-team league to 14 teams for the 2009 season, which begins Thursday.

Toronto FC, the first Canadian club in the MLS, joined the league in 2007. The team opens its regular season on Saturday in Kansas City.

MLS will expand to 16 clubs with the addition of a team in Seattle in 2009 and Philadelphia in 2010.

Yippee! This is great news for B.C, the CFL and Ottawa Rough Rider fans! The only loser would be the Senators expanded parking lot. :thup: :rockin: :smiley:

Perhaps Melnyk could pursue a roller hockey expansion team to play in that parking lot :lol:

Yes great news for the CFL and Ottawa, but what would make you think that Vancouver should be ecstatic about the news?
They had a good thing in the USL, with a great team and a fraction of the cost in expenditure.

Still the possibility that Portland won't come through with the final $15 mill though and maybe St.Louis not ready meaning, although highly unlikely, the MLS would be forced to add 2 Canadian teams. That would be horrible news for them though that they had to do this and I'm sure Garber will be sure that won't happen.

Article by Stephen Brunt from the Globe. While it paints a fairly rosy picture of MLS and expansion which may or may not be totally accurate, I do give him a ton of credit here not weighing in with thoughts on the Ottawa stadiums situation and CFL and MLS proposals etc.

I can't believe you are still keeping score on this......... Ottawa is not getting an MLS team. If it does I will buy your beer at the Ti-Cats game of your choice.

Earl - that article is bang on and what I've been trying to say about the MLS forever on this board. People who say it will fail because the NASL did or that Becks is leaving don't look at the big pcture. They see what the leaguse was 5 or 10 years ago and at the same time, seem to ignore what the CFL went through during that same period. That or they just are aurguing the same point for the sake of it.

btw - why would it be a bad thing if MLS adds 2 Canadian cites.... other than expanding USA soccer markets?
If those bids and markets are the strongest, would that not make perfect sense to expand there? I think it would from a smart business point of view.....
Add two strong markets, increase exposure in Canada, gain more sponsorship and a Canadian national tv deal....
We get growth of professional soccer, new stadiums along with the job they create.... the potential seems unlimited to me.

We are keeping score, you haven't been paying attention. The MLS commis has stated that if Melnyk has a stadium then they will definatley be awared the franchise, it may not be in the 2011 expansion but would be the year after. Don't forget that the most important factor - Melnyk is prepared to fork out $50Million out of his own pocket to give to MLS as a franchise fee. MLS would love to get their hands on that money.

That's why its going to be up to Ottawa city council to make the right choise. If they choose Hunts plan for Lansdowne then its Frank Clair and the CFL franchise and goodbye MLS. If they decide on the Kanata stadium then its Melnyk and MLS and no CFL.

That's the problem alpha as mike says, the problem isn't the MLS expanding into Canada. As I've said and others many times, we wish nothing but the best for the MLS. They could be in 20 Canadian cities for all I care, that is not a bad thing at all necessarily in and of itself for the CFL or anyone and would be great for the soccer fans in this country. No argument from me here.

The issue here is that in Ottawa, a potential CFL city, the prospective owner of a new MLS team has gone out of his way to put down the CFL - what did he say, it's a league of the past or something stupid like this - and say basically "it's the CFL at Lansdowne or the MLS at Kanata", no other options, while our prospective CFL owner is saying soccer is welcome at the site and stadium he wishes to partner on with the city.

See the difference here and what we're talking about? Now yes, recently Melnyk has gone on record saying football is ok at his stadium as well. But after his put-downs, do you really think that CFL fans trust him with his word on this? hmmmm

I agree with you, MLS wants to be big time and Ottawa just doesn't say "big time" to the rest of America. I know, neither does Columbus or Salt Lake City, but they were around from before MLS's current push for respect. I don't exactly understand Melnyk's angle, unless he honestly believes he could get a franchise or he doesn't want a competitor in Ottawa's sports scene, but Garger said all that "almost inconceivable" crap because it looks good for his league to have a lot of bidders. It drives up the value of the expansion fee and the value of existing franchises. Garber gushes over the Ottawa bid to keep the serious bids competing.

My concern is that Ottawa city council might not be smart enough to see this... actually, they're PROBABLY not smart enough to see it. They could be thinking that they can just say the word and an MLS franchise will show up at their door. That's why we're keeping track of the points in the CFL bid's favour, because everything in favour of the CFL makes it that much less likely that Ottawa will avoid a HUGE mistake of commiting to a league that has been lying to them from day one.

make no mistake about it, a Canadian national TV deal, while it might look somewhat attractive to us Canadians who think the sun rises and sets on Canada, is not what an American based league like MLS or NHL etc. is looking for in the long run. They want the big American money and I don't think what happens in Canada affects too much what happens in the US. MLS wants more rivalries among American cities I think.

Hey, if I'm an Ottawa politician, of course I'd be tickled pink to see some big Americans telling us how great our city is, our bid, they want us in the league etc... I can appreciate that. But, as said, there are no better sales people in the world than Americans and you do want to know what's truth and what's fiction in the end, and how you could be used, as others have said. Be careful.

Vancouver and Montreal already have teams in the USL and there is not much difference if at all between the two leagues.
But, there is a big difference in the operation costs, with the USL a fraction only.
As for some of us continuously stating how the soccer league(s) will fail in North America. It is based on fact and prior history. State you facts or back it up that it will continue without a TV contract and or major sponsorship? Only 1-3 teams are either breaking even or making a slight profit with the balance teetering on bankruptcy.
Both the USL and MLS have little or no chance in long term success. Soccer is not as primary sport in this continent and may not be in the top 10, whereas the rest of the world it is number 1 or close. On top, the caliber is top notch in the majority of the European and other countries unlike the 4th or 5th division here.

Well, Vancouver is officially in the MLS for 2011, they were awarded a franchise today. And guess what? They'll be playing at BC Place, at least for a while as they have or will have a 5 year lease, so all this soccer-specific stadium requirement stuff is bogus. Makes sense.

Reports are surfacing now that Portland will be announced Friday but it isn't official as yet.

Meanwhile on the Oregon Trail......

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Soccer supporters believe Portland's scored a pro franchise

12:26 PM PDT on Wednesday, March 18, 2009


PORTLAND, Ore. -- Several city insiders and local media outlets were speculating Wednesday on the fate of a Major League Soccer franchise in Portland.

A news conference was reportedly scheduled by MLS and the Portland Timbers for Friday morning to make an announcement, according to several soccer message boards, including and another website devoted to bringing a pro franchise to town.

Mayor outlines soccer proposal

Mayor rallies soccer support

Deal reportedly 'back on'

'Straight Talk' with Merritt Paulson

Soccer negotiations hit snag
According to reports, the press conference was scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Friday at the Portland Hilton between Timbers and MLS representatives.

Supporters hoped that if professional representatives were coming all the way to Portland, it must be to bring good news.

"It looks like this is going to be the celebration we have all been waiting for," Portland resident Jeremy Wright wrote on one message board.

Wright has been a vocal proponent of pro soccer in Portland and even wrote an editorial supporting the Merritt Paulson project for The Guardian, a British newspaper.

City Commissioner Randy Leonard, a supporter of the proposal, would not confirm nor deny the reports. He did speculate that league officials would "probably not travel to Portland to announce a franchise in Philadelphia."

Quest for ML Soccer
Soccer negotiations hit snag

Task forces pushes ML soccer

Soccer fans rally for new stadium

Paulson plugs soccer on 'Straight Talk'
Philadelphia was not a city in contention for MLS expansion but Leonard offered it as an example.

Oregon Sports Authority chief executive Drew Mahalic would not comment about the rumors, telling KGW "he was not authorized to do so." However, he did reconfirm his support for the proposal.

"From the start, we've been confident the MLS would look favorably toward Portland. It is something we've worked hard for," he said.

Major League Soccer representatives were in Vancouver, B.C. on Wednesday to announce the first of two expansion franchises. Portland is hoping it wins the second and is competing with Ottawa, Canada and St. Louis, Mo.

Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson, who is financing the $45 million pro soccer franchise fee, offered congratulations to Vancouver on Wednesday afternoon.

"On behalf of the Portland Timbers and soccer fans across the Northwest, I congratulate Vancouver on becoming the newest member of Major League Soccer. We hope to have the same opportunity to join our Northwest rivals in MLS," a Paulson statement said.

Paulson did not comment on the Friday news conference involving MLS and the Timbers.

City Council voted 3-2 to approve MLS proposal
Last week, the City Council approved a project proposal to bring a pro soccer franchise to town, renovate PGE Park and build a new minor league baseball team.

The debate lasted most of last Wednesday, with as many as 45 people lining up to testify on the project.

Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish voted against the Major League Soccer proposal.

The mayor claimed the proposal would bring Portland “two stadiums for the price of one,? since PGE Park would be reused for major league soccer, Portland State football and area high school football games.

"We are in the midst of the worst economy in recent history - this means job losses, tough program cuts, and drastic impacts on our homeless, youth and elderly. My vote today in Council was not about the merits of a stadium deal, but about protecting our dwindling public resources. The case simply hasn't been made to me that there is sufficient economic benefit in this deal," Fish said in a statement. "In this tough economy, we need a major league commitment to parks, affordable housing, jobs and education."

The report said an MLS franchise would also bring other “community benefits? with it, and that it would elevate Portland’s international status at a time when the city aims to become the greenest urban economy in the U.S. Details: Read the city proposal (PDF)

But the proposal upped the city’s financial obligations by about $4 million. As recently as last Friday, Leonard told KGW it would cost about $85 million to renovate PGE Park and build a new minor league baseball stadium in the Rose Quarter.

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The report noted that the new $89 million estimate could also increase after stadium designs and engineering plans were completed.

Under the proposal, Merritt Paulson and his family agreed to pay for the soccer franchise, about $40 million. Paulson would be the team’s owner; the team would pay to rent a renovated PGE Park from the city and those funds would be deposited in the Spectator Facilities Fund.

Bonds would be issued to cover the $89 million and recouped through the Spectator Fund, under the proposal.

“The city will own both PGE Park and the new AAA baseball stadium, and the Beavers and new MLS franchise will lease stadiums from the city. These rent payments will help to finance the city’s debt obligations,? the proposal said.

The new minor league stadium would seat about 9,000 people at the site of Memorial Coliseum in Rose Quarter.

Paulson hailed the city's proposal, calling it a "good deal for the city and for taxpayers."

More: Merritt Paulson statement on soccer proposal (PDF)

"If you are a worker, this creates jobs; if you are a taxpayer, this protects you from risk. If you are a fan, this means even better soccer and baseball ... If you love Portland, as I do, this revitalizes an area of the city ripe for renewal and showcases Portland to the nation and world," Paulson said.

In the deal, the Paulson family has reportedly agreed to personally guarantee to pay any cost overruns the city may accrue to convert PGE Park into a Major League Soccer stadium.

Currently, the Portland Timbers minor league soccer team and Portland Beavers minor league baseball team share the stadium.

The Paulson guarantee would also apply to construction costs toward a new baseball stadium for the Beavers.

“It’s great for soccer fans; it’s great for baseball fans … it’s great for the community and the economy,? he said. "Hopefully, we'll have something to formally announce soon."

KGW Reporter Randy Neves contributed to this report.

PT Barnum was never more correct as per the clowns in Vancouver and Portland blowing $40M large+.

It will be interesting to hear what Garber has to say tomorrow evening

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Portland to be Named 18th MLS Team?

In the wake of Vancouver’s announcement as the 17th MLS franchise and the news of a 32,000 person sellout at Qwest Field in Seattle for tomorrow’s season opener, the Pacific Northwest might get even more good news.

Rumors are circling, and starting to get picked up by major news sources, that MLS league officials have scheduled a press conference in Portland for Friday where they will announce that city as the 18th team.

The bid is headed up by Merit Paulson, son of former treasury secretary Henry Paulson, who plans to bring an MLS franchise to Portland to play in PGE Park.

The bid hinged upon Paulson securing public funding to build a new minor league baseball stadium for the AAA Beaver (owned by Paulson) as well as funding to renovate PGE park to a more soccer friendly configuration. Portland got conditional funding from the city council last week in a 3-2 vote.

Initially, Paulson was hoping to secure $85 million in public financing for the two stadium deals while he would pay the $40 million franchise fee out of his own pocket. Those plans changed.

Paulson will now contribute a significant amount of his own money to the construction, and has also personally guaranteed that his family would back all the bonds used to finance construction should the league or the team fold before they are completely paid off. Even with those concessions, Paulson’s bid is $15 short of funding.

Originally, that $15 million was supposed to come from an urban redevelopment fund earmarked for blighted areas. After receiving quite a bit of negative feedback regarding that plan, the city council pulled that off of the table and put a To Be Determined label on the remaining $15 million.

Still, the biggest hurdle was cleared, and now it seems as though MLS is ready to commit to the city. Neither the league nor Paulson himself has made an official announcement of the press conference, but most feel as though both sides are remaining quiet in order to not take any of the focus off of Vancouver’s day in the sun.

With Garber in attendance for tomorrow’s season opener, and likely to speak at halftime during the telecast, it won’t be too shocking if he officially announces the press conference then. With Portland’s inclusion, MLS would secure itself as the predominant professional sports league in the Pacific Northwest, outnumbering the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL’s presence.

Turns out that Vancouver is paying $35M. So MLS did lower the price after refusing to do so throughout the whole process.

The Whitecaps are paying $43M in Canadian dollars which equaled to around $40M US at the time the bidding process started but the Canadian dollar dropped in value since then. Given that and the current economic condition, I think $35M US is a fair number (also aligns with the Forbes valuation of MLS teams). The discount might help Merritt Paulson in Portland plug some of the $15 mil hole in his plan as well.

It's not over for Ottawa's MLS bid though. Garber said the league plans to add two more teams by 2013.

The city isn't going to build a 120 million dollar soccer specific stadium that would sit empty for atleast 4 years, possibly longer, when they could have a multi purpose stadium that could be put to use immediately.

Garber says Ottawa may have to wait until next round. Translation = Portland is in, Ottawa out. Now the city can take due diligence and wait until the time the CFL has given the city to decide on the Lansdowne Live proposal, I think that is in September. But rest assured, if Saputo starts singing a bit of a different tune the MLS likes, Montreal will be in and Ottawa will be out again, you know they'll take Montreal over Ottawa.

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