As promised, after a night’s rest to think about it here is my follow up to yesterday’s article. While I documented the reasons why MLS may hold off expansion past 28, its hard to ignore a few points as to why a league 0f 30+ might work for North American soccer.
The first, simplest, and probably most influential reason is that MLS makes a truck load of cash every time a team pay their expansion fee. At last estimate, the MLS expansion fee is in the neighborhood of $100 million USD. With a sense of urgency developing alongside a growing demand for professional soccer, MLS is likely to hike that expansion fee even higher for teams 25-28 and even higher if teams 29-32 come to fruition. In its single-entity ownership model, MLS reaps massive benefits from these expansion fees.
Another influential factor in expansion is that 30+ clubs in one league can be viewed as too many by fans familiar with international leagues. Looking at the 30+ teams in each of the NFL, NBA, and MLB, putting that large number of clubs in MLS might be seen as “very American.” My argument to that is that’s ok. This isn’t a countdown clock or one of the other weird rules MLS tried to make the game more “American” back in the nineties. North America is a huge continent with many major cities spread across from coast to coast. A regionally-scheduled league where East and West don’t meet very often could work. A model similar to MLB’s national and american leagues could work. All of these ideas would take the convincing of some fans who are already sold on the way MLS operates today, but North American pro sports leagues are generally large. Aligning MLS with these numbers might not be a bad thing, and would give more opportunity for fans to have a franchise in their city.
I don’t believe that MLS will see more the 28 franchises anytime soon. Stability is job number one, and rapid expansion is a risk that isn’t needed right now. However, the case can be made for it and boiled down to one word, “money” might be enough to see another ten franchises added to the growing league.
For now, San Antonio will look to enter in as the 25th through 28th club and hope to avoid worrying about additional expansion in the future.