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    MLS Expansion Points to Pacific NW Rivalry, League to Expand (Again), More News

    19th March 2009

    Major League Soccer must feel that there’s something in the water in the Pacific Northwest. Today will see Sounders FC make their debut in Seattle as they host the Red Bulls at Qwest Field with more than 32,000 fans expected. The game will come on the heels of Vancouver, BC being awarded one of two expansion franchises for the 2011 season, and Portland being awarded the second and final expansion club tomorrow at a 10a.m. PT press conference in what is lovingly referred to as Soccer City, USA (credit Timber fans at SoccerCityUSA.com for breaking the story). Heck, the Timbers already have MLS ticket sale info online for 2011. (NOTE: The Timbers have since pulled the info, SoccerCityUSA.com posted the details here before being yanked)

    With the Sounders, and eventually Vancouver (Whitecaps), and Portland (Timbers) coming into the league, it sets up a perfect “I-5 rivalry”, and certainly taps into the grassroots fan base that has been building in the region for years for soccer. There are funding issues to deal with on Portland’s end, but if they pull it off (which they should given the award tomorrow), Commissioner Garber should be given a thumbs-up for tapping into the region.

    The question now is, where will teams 19 and 20 play? Garber made mention at yesterday’s press conference that the league will (once again) be expanding by two clubs. Too fast? Maybe. Maybe, not. The one certain factor is that with all the expansion fees rolling into the league, MLS will have some extra green to offset the impacts of the recession.

    In other sports business news…

    The Miami City Commission voted 3-2 today in favor of a $639 million package to fund a new ballpark for the team that would be named the Miami Marlins after the Marlins made several concessions in an effort to get the funding passed. If Miami-Dade County Commissioners vote in favor of the funding package, the Marlins will have finally landed the long sought after baseball-only stadium that three separate Marlins ownership groups have been pining for for more than a decade..

    Seems the completed sale of the Cubs won’t be occurring by the beginning of the 2009 MLB season. “I think it will be a challenge to make opening day. If I were to tell you we were going to make opening day, everything would have to fall into place just perfectly, and the world’s an imperfect place, so I would say that’s probably unlikely,” said Cubs chairman Crane Kenney from Mesa yesterday.

    And there was much dancing in the streets… Gameday Audio is coming to MLB.com’s At Bat application for iPhone.

    The NFL player reps are smart to have gone with an outsider to replace Gene Upshaw.

    President Obama gets ready for March Madness by filling out a bracket for ESPN.

    This just in, working for Lenny Dyskstra is the new Hell’s Kitchen.

    This just in, A-Rod needs to work on his image.

    In the cha-ching department, I’ve come up with a new metric designed to calculate the average amount a club that hosts a postseason game in MLB pulls in.

    While US fans snore through the event, for the most part, the rest of the world is making the World Baseball Classic an attendance and ratings hit.

    It is about the money, stupid, has an excellent interview with Jeff Pearlman, author of The Rocket Who Fell to Earth.

    Here’s what 10 years worth of end of year payroll looks like for Major League Baseball. Surprise, the Yankees outspent all comers.

    The NHL really has its act together when it comes to digital media as witnessed by this.

    In other NHL news, the players could ostensibly be working the last 12-13 games of the season unpaid.

    And finally, “That was a wicked googlie!” Manny Ramirez tries Cricket as part of a promo for DirecTV.

    Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown’s full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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