(from Sports Business Journal, March 4, 2013) The search is on for a second Major League Soccer (MLS) team for the New York area. A $100 million expansion fee has been set up in hopes of bringing in another team to this rapidly growing sport, with plans to build a $300 million soccer stadium in Queens. This plan will bring a soccer rivalry to the nearby Red Bulls in Harrison, New Jersey, only 34 miles away.
This new expansion would create the 20th franchise in the MLS. The last franchises that were contracted were in 2002 when they got Miami and Tampa Bay. At this point in time, AEG owned 6 out of the 10 franchises. The MLS is taking precautionary measures and not releasing a lot of information or official announcements because there is still a lot of work to be done. MLS President, Mark Abbott, states many reasons for the potential expansion. One of the most important aspects of his statement was that the MLS wanted this new franchise to have a committed ownership group, one who has control over the venue. The MLS has already come up with a great geographical location so now the search is for the right owner for the new franchise.
News has it that Abu Dhabi United Group is the front runner for the new franchise. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan leads this group. They were responsible for purchasing Manchester City of the English Premier League back in 2008. The $100 million franchise fee would not seem to be a problem for Mansour’s personal net wealth of $5 billion.
This expansion fee of $100 million will more than double the previous expansions in Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto; each only having a fee of $40 million. This $100 million expansion fee doesn’t seem to cause a threat to any of the multiple groups that have been approached about the new franchise, according to the Executive Vice President of Communications for MLS, Dan Courtemanche.