Vancouver and Portland will be granted MLS franchises later this month, according to a highly placed MLS source.
The failure of Miami to secure the backing of Barcelona has effectively ended the expansion race. Ottawa remains at play for 2013 and will go into that bidding process as the likely frontrunner if it approves a soccer specific stadium in April.
The source says that "all bets are off" for 2013 as several of the bids that pulled out for ’11 will be back in the hunt.
St. Louis still lacks significant financial backing to be a legitimate factor in the 2011 bid. Quietly the St. Louis bid has been negotiating with MLS to allow a structured deal similar to what Montreal and Miami asked for. It has been suggested that St. Louis was only prepared to pay about $9 million US in expansion fees, with the rest of its money tied up in infrastructure improvements required for MLS.
To this point MLS has not budged on the $40 million asking price and does not seem likely to do so with St. Louis either.
"St. Louis is banking on the league looking for a natural rival for Kansas City and nostalgia for what the league once was," as second source said.
The decision to go to Portland and Vancouver was based on "stadium plan, political support and geographical factors," the MLS source said.
MLS is waiting for Portland to give final approval on its stadium plan to make the announcement. That's expected to come March 11. If Portland approves the stadium, the expansion announcement will likely take place March 17 or 18.
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