Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Vancouver in MLS; what's it mean for Montreal (idly wondering)

Vancouver is officially in MLS, as you know since Rollins was out front. Meantime, Théo Gauthier, the Ottawa Sports Guy, has some misgivings about what it might mean for Montreal Impact owner Joey Saputo.
"It's difficult to tell, but remember that George Gillett, owner of the Montreal Canadiens and Liverpool FC, has made it known he'd love an MLS franchise. It's not out of the realm of possibility that (MLS commissioner) Don Garber is much less comfortable with a French-Italo-Canadian-cheese and Jos Louis maker than with a WASP Texas businessman with much deeper pockets that would immediately link his MLS club to the storied Liverpool FC.

"If I'm right, and this is what truly happened, it would be quite unfair to the Saputo family. They have nurtured the soccer culture in Montreal from its embryonic stage to the solid franchise it is today. To have the rug swept from under them by a swaggering cowboy would be sad indeed."
There was a similar situation, you will recall, when MLSE-owned Toronto FC came into being and the Toronto Lynx owners promptly folded its team post-haste. They were a mom-and-pop store up against Wal-Mart. It passed with barely any notice, even though MLSE-bashing might be Toronto's official sport.

It piqued some interest, to say the least. Gillett has his hands full with Liverpool, by most accounts; replacing CEO Rick Parry, trying to replace undersized Anfield (44,000 seats; Manchester United has 76,000) and making nice with co-owner Tom Hicks. There's also the matter that FIFA boss Sepp Blatter isn't hot on having Americans own European teams and wants MLS season to start in late summer and run through the winter, which might be a bit of a problem in Toronto and Montreal.

Anyway, keep your fingers crossed for Montreal in 2013 and, yeah, there's Ottawa too.

Hooray! I think? (Théo Gauthier, Ottawa Sports Guy)


Duane Rollins said...

It's Ottawa's to lose. Garber as much as said so today.

The reason no one cried for the Lynx is that they were Mickey Mouse all the way. The fans simply felt no loyalty to the ownership since they felt that they were treated like crap for years. By contrast, MLSE treated them like gold (which they were to MLSE, really). The fans have responded by being quite loyal to the front office--likely more so than any other fan group is to a T.O. F.O. right now.

Anonymous said...

Why does the MLS not award Ottawa a franchise conditional on a stadium deal being struck by a certain date? That is what the CFL did.

With an assured franchise in hand, Team Melnyk would be in a better position to convince the city to support his stadium proposal.

As it is, Team Hunt has the advantage of saying to the city that their franchise is in the bag and Melnyk's is not.

The reluctance to award a conditional franchise makes me think that the MLS is not as high on coming to Ottawa as Garber is trying to make us beleive.

Anonymous said...

Does Gillett have more money than Saputo? Still think MLS is stringing Ottawa along, better to have "competition" for luring would-be owners.......I don't think they're high on the city at all.

Anonymous said...

At least some councilors--Cullen, Harden, El Chantirry have their priorities right. They say they must deal with Lansdowne first. It exists, is falling apart, and has to be dealt with first. From what they decide to do with Lansdowne will flow what they decide to do about a stadium.Keep it at Lansdowne or rebuild Lansdowne without a stadium and look elsewhere for a stadium.

My guess is that in the end, they will keep it at Lansdowne.

Anonymous said...

What evidence is there that the Ottawa area soccer folk would support MLS...especially in Kanata?
Recall the city poured millions into Lynx Stadium, at the behest of Howard Darwin.
The people, at first, supported AAA baseball in droves.
That lasted all of two years.
Alas, for much of the Lynx 15 year history, home games were played before a smattering of faithful drowned in a sea of blue seats.
Why should we believe the would be MLS franchise would not suffer a similar fate?
Problem is, there is virtually no pro soccer history in this town, unless you count low level teams like the Ottawa Intrepid.
True, the world u20 tournament here was a rousing success but that was a one off event and there were a lot of out of towners who filled those seats.
as far as pro soccer in Ottawa is concerned, sign me...

Doubting Thomas

sager said...

The Lynx example really doesn't work; different era, different key demographics. Ottawa is changing.

It's funny how everyone else except for anon. commenters and 50-something media types believe there's no chance for soccer in Ottawa. I wouldn't have said so as late as November, but it's got a chance

FYI, the baseball stadium is paid off, so the city didn't lose anything. Go read my buddy Carl's blog, he has all the details.