Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Soccer: Don't hold your breath

Will Senators owner Eugene Melnyk's bid to add an MLS franchise to his Ottawa sports empire and simultaneously erect a sports mecca in a farmers' field in Kanata be successful?

Short answer: No.

Medium answer: Probably not.

Long answer: Courtesy Greg Daurio of 90:00 Soccer Magazine,
"Three Canadian cities submitted expansion applications last week (Ottawa, Montreal, and Vancouver). As I’ve said before, an expansion team in Canada is not only going to struggle like every other expansion team in recent memory, but it is going to make TFC that much weaker.


"That being said, people are all but giving Montreal a five star lock for this round of expansion. Montreal and Toronto are natural rivals in other sports, and Stade Saputo just needs to be expanded in order to make it MLS ready.

"It’s not quite that easy though. Stade Saputo was built on the cheap and would need a massive facelift to meet MLS standards, which wouldn’t necessarily happen overnight. Also, MLS is looking for a national television rights deal in Canada, and choosing a city a few miles up the road from Toronto isn’t exactly a national footprint to attract coast-to-coast viewers or sponsors.

"Ottawa is in an even worse position, tucked right between Toronto and Montreal, and lets be honest, if MLS chooses to put a team in Canada, it’s not likely that Ottawa is going to get chosen over either Montreal or Vancouver.

"Which brings us to Vancouver. Vancouver certainly gives MLS a broader Canadian footprint, and with Yahoo money involved, there is no questioning the wealth involved in the ownership group. The problem is the stadium issue. The Vancouver group is hoping to get approval for a waterfront stadium, but that has been caught up in red tape for years. In the interim, Vancouver has already signed a deal to play at BC Place, a gargantuan stadium that holds nearly 60,000 and houses artificial turf."
Sorry, Ottawa soccer fans, but don't hold your breath. What does this mean for Ottawa's great outdoor stadium debate?
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