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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old November 4th, 2004, 22:48 Thread Starter
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MLS in Canada? Dumb ideas die hard.

The CSA continues to dream in Technicolor...
:rollani:

Can Canada support a MLS franchise?
By NEIL DAVIDSON

(CP) - News that A-League franchises in Calgary and Edmonton have shut their doors seemingly does little to engender hope that Canada can support a Major League Soccer franchise.

But Kevan Pipe, chief operating officer of the Canadian Soccer Association, believes it is simplistic to link the two. Apples and oranges, he says. Perhaps, cranberries and caviar may be a better analogy. MLS is a whole new snack bracket for a sport that has staggered at Canadian turnstiles in recent years.

With the green light having been given to a 25,000-seat stadium at York University, Toronto will have the necessary home to catch Major League Soccer's eye.

Now it just needs in excess of $10 million US.

The MLS is currently at 10 teams, with new franchises on deck in Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, where the new team will share the Home Depot Center with the Galaxy.

Both new franchises paid $10 million US to join the league. Expect the admission fee to go up next time around.

This is for a city where the existing A-League team, the Lynx, has lost $5 million Cdn over its first eight seasons, according to indefatigable owner Nicole Hartrell.

The good news is the bottom line is improving for the Lynx, who have been without a decent home since an aging Varsity Stadium was demolished. Hartrell estimates last season's losses at $300,000 Cdn last season - on a $900,000 Cdn operating budget.

Hartrell is even expanding her soccer world. She has taken over the Toronto W-League women's franchise and expects to pour an additional $250,000 Cdn in that team next season.

She understandably does not want to compete with an MLS franchise.

"We don't believe that Canada's ready to support financially and otherwise an MLS franchise," Hartrell said Thursday.

And she wonders why the Canadian Soccer Association is looking past her organization.

So does the United Soccer League, the umbrella group that runs the A-League, W-League and others.

"I guess I'm a little unclear why the franchise that has been working to keep professional soccer for the period of a decade would be looked at as insufficient as a tenant in that stadium," USL vice-president Tim Holt said Thursday from Tampa, Fla.

"Maybe because of its past attendances? Well aren't they a direct function perhaps of not having an appropriate venue at this point? I think the Lynx should be given every opportunity to be the professional soccer franchise in Toronto and that should be supported by the CSA."

In terms of loyalty, he probably has a point. Still it's a dog-eat-dog world out there and the MLS trumps the A-League when it comes to soccer status in North America. Would you rather drive a Pinto or a Porsche?

The MLS is on record as saying it would welcome two more teams in 2006 or 2007. At $10 million US a head, why not?

Still the MLS is smart enough to know that expansion to the wrong places is akin to one step forward, two steps back. The league has already had to close franchises in Tampa and Miami.

So for the time being, it is safe to guess the league is going to take the best-heeled bid it can get.

Even if the gigantic MLS expansion fee includes upfront money for some league obligations for the first few years - so says Pipe, MLS won't say what the money covers - the CSA will need more than the Argos owners to pony up.

The CSA is essentially trying to act as matchmaker, in linking the Argos ownership with others with the resources to get involved.

There are people out there. Auto parts millionaire Frank Stronach of Aurora, Ont., has already dug into his wallet for soccer in his native Austria. In a perfect world, he could drop a few bucks in his backyard.

But even with a stadium and a franchise, pro sports teams exist on TV revenue. And there is no proof that TV is ready to spend real money on soccer in Canada. Not to mention North America's poor track record of past pro leagues.

Still Pipe is nothing but positive on MLS. "Pretty substantial progress," has been made on the search to expand an ownership group, he says. There have been "many" talks with MLS, which is "extremely positive."

As for the A-League woes in Alberta, Pipe argues that the two teams were hamstrung by oversized football stadiums, with Calgary's MacMahon further plagued by outdated artificial turf.

Losing records didn't help either. Both teams went 4-18-6 with the Calgary Mustangs averaging 1,258 fans per game and the Edmonton Aviators 1,478.

Toronto drew 2,444 per game, compared to 4,833 for the Vancouver Whitecaps and 9,279 for the champion Montreal Impact. The league average was 3,879.

A-League soccer may resurface in Calgary in 2006, according to Holt, if the right ownership group is found. Plus the A-League has yet to announce the makeup of the 2005 season, so the ink is not yet dry on the league makeup.

Pipe argues the right soccer venue will draw fans in Toronto and points to the huge population base in and around the city.

And he agrees that soccer snobbery - fans who will pack SkyDome to watch Liverpool or Celtic playing a meaningless exhibition game rather than take in a local pro team - could work in an MLS team's favour given that the league is North America's top flight and has star appeal with the likes of Landon Donovan and Freddy Adu.

The Toronto Argonauts like the MLS idea because it represents another tenant for their new home. The Canadian Soccer Association loves it, because it would keep some Canadian players closer to home while playing soccer at a competitive level.

More players at home means more time for Frank Yallop to work with his internationals. It also means less cost in assembling his squad.

And while the CSA is not looking to become part of any potential ownership group - it does not have deep enough pockets - Pipe says it is open to just about anything else.

"We've got an open agenda, an open book . . . we're not going to outright reject anything. Our top priority right now is being directly involved in the process of securing an MLS franchise for a least Toronto - and who knows what down the road."

That positive approach and out-of-the-box thinking is commendable. And the CSA and Argos deserve credit for rescuing their stadium plan after the University of Toronto pulled out.

But the road to an MLS franchise needs to be paved with more than good intentions.
-------------
Is there no limit to Kevan Pipe's lunacy?
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old November 4th, 2004, 22:57
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MLS will never expand to Canada while there are other more lucrative US locations. Btw I didn't know about Miami and Tampa closing, did they die out or just move to another location? Anyways, if the MLS can't support a viable franchise in Miami at this point, there's no way they'll do it in Toronto. What we need is a "lite" version pro league, a soccer version of the CFL, and see where it goes from there.

Even for a potential CSL, I believe it would be a mistake to focus only Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver, etc. I believe the biggest interest in soccer is in Ontario (and Montreal, possibly). Maybe there could be local rivalries built with teams in Hamilton, Ottawa, maybe London? Or some other such place. Add Toronto, Montreal for starters. No large cross-country travel costs, and we don't stadia in excess of 15,000.
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old November 5th, 2004, 01:13
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I think Montreal Impact has the fanbase and hopefully the money to join mls ... but I don't think FIFA is gonna let clubs from other countries join the MLS.
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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old November 5th, 2004, 01:17
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Andrija, Tampa and Miami folded a few seasons back

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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old November 5th, 2004, 05:56
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FIFA doesn't have anything to do with it - the MLS is not a member of FIFA. You already have Welsh teams playing in the English leagues, teams from Liechtenstein in the Swiss, so it's not against the rules.
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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old November 6th, 2004, 06:22
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I don't think MLS should take in Canadian expansion teams. That is unless there is viable proof they could support them, then go right ahead. But to put teams in places like Miami would be bad for all involved.

I think first MLS needs to spread MLS teams better towards the North and Northwest, and then back Southeast, before they go to Canada.
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old November 6th, 2004, 17:44
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in Europe, football clubs are also institutions.
They evolve over time, have an identity of their own and attract a fanbase not because they have great marketing plans but because they represent something.

Football cannot be a business run like the NBA (with franchises opening and closing or moving based on income and profits). The best clubs have had financial problems which they've dealt with through support of the community and fans.

So I am not a keen MLS fan because the teams involved in it don't represent much for me. Maybe we can establish a league system that's similar to the European leagues?

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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old November 7th, 2004, 02:30
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It's hard to be an institution when you opened yesterday. But it's not like there are no sports franchises which are not "institutions" - look at the Toronto Maple Leafs or Detroit Redwings, for example. But they have a history spanning more than 50 years.
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old March 8th, 2005, 17:41
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MLSE looking into MLS soccer

Report: MLSE looking into MLS soccer

3/8/2005

With NHL hockey and NBA basketball already in the fold, Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment is considering a move to the pitch.

MLSE president and CEO confirmed to The Toronto Star Tuesday that the ownership group has spoken to Major League Soccer about the a possible expansion franchise for 2007.

"We've done a fair amount of work on this," Peddie told The Star. "Enough that we're going to keep looking at it."

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors and the Air Canada Centre, is considered one of the most profitable sports and entertainment properties in North America.

The biggest shareholder of MLSE is the Toronto Teachers' Pension Union with 58 percent, followed by Bell Globemedia with 15 percent and TD Capital with 14 percent.
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old March 11th, 2005, 05:29
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Lets look at MLSE getting involved in soccer. 1st the positives......
1) It will finally bring the professional game back to life in Toronto
which has been without a professional team since the NASL ceased
operations.
2) It will give the sport a lot of credibility.

Now the negatives.
1) MLSE hasn't exactly built winners with there franchise ship, The
Toronto Maple Leafs, the AHL Maple Leafs, ot the NBA's Toronto
Raptors. where making a profit seems to be more important then winning,
and that could hurt the sport.

2) How long will MLSE stay in the soccer business if the team struggles
the first couple of seasons? If they are in for the long haul,
great if not the sports don't need anymore part time owners.
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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old March 12th, 2005, 17:51
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I think MLSE are looking to go into soccer because they realize the potential of the sport in Canada are looking to cash in, but I think they know not to expect any sort of quick success so I think they are thinking this is a long term investment and they definately want to maintain there monopoly on the sports franchises in Toronto. There inability to build a winner is due to them trading away there future in Hockey and for Basketball some stupid superstars. I think of this as a good move and I hope they follow through on it.
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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old March 13th, 2005, 15:45
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Why Toronto of all places. Would the fans go to the games (Lynx have a low avg. in A league, they dont even draw big crowds for NT games)? Would they lose allot more than they make?

At the moment there are only 2 places in Canada that can really support MLS Teams (Baste on interest and support) Montreal with our 15,000 avg attendance in the A league and generaly Large interest in the sport, and Vancouver (Although its not much better than Toronto). Ah well i wouldent mind if they get a team, i just dont think it would be a smart move

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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old March 14th, 2005, 04:03
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Covert
Why Toronto of all places. Would the fans go to the games (Lynx have a low avg. in A league, they dont even draw big crowds for NT games)? Would they lose allot more than they make?

At the moment there are only 2 places in Canada that can really support MLS Teams (Baste on interest and support) Montreal with our 15,000 avg attendance in the A league and generaly Large interest in the sport, and Vancouver (Although its not much better than Toronto). Ah well i wouldent mind if they get a team, i just dont think it would be a smart move
Toronto is the most important city in Canada. The Lynx have a low average due to being run in a mickey mouse manor. They have never
been a winner, and they stadium they play in is juvenille. Montreal
can't even support the sports they do have, The Expos died to lack of
fan support,the CFL team has died twice. Montreal does not have a
larger interest in soccer than Toronto,that bulls**t,just like that
15000 avg for the Impact, their stadium doesn't hold half that amount
of spectators. Having a MLS franchise in Montreal would be a lost cause.
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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old March 14th, 2005, 14:17
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You obvously dont know much about the situation in sports here. The expose died beacus of the 94 baseball lockout. If it didint happen we woulda won the world sieries and there would still be the expose here. People were going to the games and there was a huge interest. The lockout killed that off. For example its the same situation with NHL Hockey in most un traditional US cities. Secodly if im not mistake the Al's have one of the best attendances in the CFL. Infact this year we filled Mcgill stadium regularly, and the big O in the playoffs.

*Ps in the final there were close to 16,000 people watching the impact win the A league title. Look it up buddy.

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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old March 14th, 2005, 21:27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Covert
You obvously dont know much about the situation in sports here. The expose died beacus of the 94 baseball lockout. If it didint happen we woulda won the world sieries and there would still be the expose here. People were going to the games and there was a huge interest. The lockout killed that off. For example its the same situation with NHL Hockey in most un traditional US cities. Secodly if im not mistake the Al's have one of the best attendances in the CFL. Infact this year we filled Mcgill stadium regularly, and the big O in the playoffs.

*Ps in the final there were close to 16,000 people watching the impact win the A league title. Look it up buddy.
No other team has folded to the baseball lockout, the expos fans all
3 off them just use that as an excuse to stay away.The Expos would not
have won the world series,who you kidding. Why can't the Al's fill
the Olympic stadium for regular season games? And hockey could be the next to go in Montreal if there is no agreement, if you think that won't happen you are living in a dream world. :rollani:
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post #16 of 25 (permalink) Old March 15th, 2005, 04:19
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All right the Expos were a serious threat before the baseball lockout for the World Series everyone was excited and they were expanding there fan base, but the lockout killed all the excitment and forced the team to sell their stars to avoid losses. Montreal can support a team it just has to be a winning team at first. I think that Montreal is the place to go if you want to build a successful franchise for soccer but both Montreal and Toronto can also support a team. And really wouldn't it be great if both these cities got a team.
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post #17 of 25 (permalink) Old March 16th, 2005, 19:54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by canadianbeast05
No other team has folded to the baseball lockout, the expos fans all
3 off them just use that as an excuse to stay away.The Expos would not
have won the world series,who you kidding.
I know very little about Baseball but this jsut proves you know less than me Read Zangaris post to get a better idea. Although he did forget to mention that 11 players from that squad are now hall of famers.

Quote:
Why can't the Al's fill
the Olympic stadium for regular season games?
The olympic stadium is out of the way. If you have ever been to mtl (by your posts i doupt it) you would already know this. the Mcgill stadium is much easier to get to etc etc. ITs the same situation with Juve and Del Alpi. They rarely fill it thanks to its location, only for really important games would you see it filled. This is why the Als play at Mcgill stadium, its in a better location, and easier to get to. If it was the size of the big o it would be filled as well.

Quote:
And hockey could be the next to go in Montreal if there is no agreement,
Hockey will never die in montreal. We are the greatest franchise in the NHL, and there is always big interest in hockey here. Infact the Bell center holds more people than any other arena and fills every game. The Leafs may be making the most money in the NHL but thats becaus all the ENGLISH support them and buy their merchandise etc etc while Montreal support is mainly in Quebec and Ottawa. We are not far behind you though.

[quote
if you think that won't happen you are living in a dream world. :rollani:[/QUOTE]

Yes thats right im living a dream world. Using your logic you must be living in a box buried six feat under.

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post #18 of 25 (permalink) Old March 16th, 2005, 22:08
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i would think a MLS team in toronto would do better than the toronto lynks. the mls dose attrack some great names at times, even though its at the end of their careers but atleast they do come, look at pele (i know it wasnt the mls but it was a american/candian league) and stojtckov from bulgaria ( he played for chicago fire) and there has been many more (exuse me if i didnt include them, and my spelling of stojtckov lol)
post #19 of 25 (permalink) Old March 16th, 2005, 22:09
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i cant wait to see an mls team in toronto, i would follow and support our team! keep your fingers crossed!
post #20 of 25 (permalink) Old March 16th, 2005, 23:04 Thread Starter
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The biggest benefit of an MLS team in Toronto would be that it would allow Canadian internationals to play professional soccer at home, instead of having to go to European clubs all the time. They'd be available for National team training camps and international friendlies, without having 5- to 9- hour jet lag and without jeopardizing their European club jobs.
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