By IVES GALARCEP
When Don Garber revealed last week that MLS was closing in on announcing the league’s 20th franchise, the chances of New York being the home for that 20th team didn’t seem nearly as strong as they had appeared in the past. Not with Orlando pushing hard to make the cut, and not with obstacles appearing to be standing in the way of a potential soccer stadium in New York.
You might not want to write off a second New York MLS team just yet.
Reports emerged on Sunday stating that Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, part owner of English Premier League side Manchester City, is closing in on buying an MLS expansion franchise in New York.
The New York Times reported that Sheik Mansour is leading the group that is ready to pay the $100 million expansion franchise fee and place a team in Queens, where a stadium will be built. The report also revealed that the MLS-driven stadium project in Queens, which had appeared to be hitting a dead end, could be completed within weeks.
These developments, if true, are a game-changer, because MLS has made no secret of preferring to put the league’s 20th team in New York City. With a financial powerhouse like Sheik Mansour leading a bid, MLS suddenly has the kind of deep-pocketed ownership group that can not only make a New York stadium happen, but would also have the financial might to build a successful MLS team.
What this development means for Orlando’s expansion plans remains to be seen, though Orlando has certainly done enough in recent months to be considered a serious contender to be one of the next cities in line for a team. Orlando was starting to look like a new favorite for the 20th MLS team, but with new, powerful ownership candidates emerging in New York, it looks as though Orlando may have to wait a while longer.
What do you think of this development? Excited to hear MLS could have some rich owners in New York City? Think it’s a mistake to add a second team in the New York market? Still hoping Orlando is awarded team 20?
Share your thoughts below.