Top 10 Reasons Why New York Should Not Get Another MLS Franchise

Start spreading the news--New York needs one great team, not two mediocre ones.
After unveiling Montreal as Major League Soccer's 19th team, commissioner Don Garber recently revealed that the league is considering fielding a second team in the New York metropolitan area.

"Our attention is very focused on a 20th team as we speak," Garber told the Associated Press. "We'd like that team to be in New York City representing a second team in the tri-state area."

How wrong-headed is this idea? Let me count the ways.

Here are 10 reasons why MLS should not even think about putting a new franchise in the New York area:

1. St. Louis.

The Gateway City has great sports fans, no NBA team, and a wealthy local iconic industry. Sound familiar?

St. Louis might not become a second Seattle, but the ingredients are there.

2. No groundswell.

The cities most recently awarded expansion franchises all demonstrated strong interest at a grassroots level. Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, and Montreal all supported their second-division teams. Philadelphia's Sons of Ben formed a year before the Union existed.

If there's anyone in the New York area who has been clamoring for a new MLS team, they’ve been mighty quiet.

3. The Wilpons might be involved.

The Wilpons—Fred and his son Jeff—have owned the New York Mets outright since 2002. Despite routinely having one of the biggest revenue streams and payrolls in Major League Baseball, the Mets have exactly one division title and zero pennants or championships to show for it.

4. The stadium issue.

Getting a new sports stadium built in the New York area is not exactly easy. Considering the Red Bulls are in New Jersey, the most logical place to put a new MLS team would be on the other side of Manhattan--namely Brooklyn, Queens, or Long Island. Before the Mets' Citi Field opened last year, the newest major sports area in that region was the Nassau Coliseum, built in 1972.

The Mets had to fight for many years to get Citi Field approved. The New York Islanders—an established NHL franchise with four Stanley Cups—still have not broken ground on a replacement for the Coliseum.

How many years—or decades—will it take for New York's zoning bureaucrats to green-light a stadium in Queens or Long Island for a sport that most people still consider to be tangential?

5. Atlanta.

Yes, Atlanta is a terrible pro sports town. But MLS does not have a franchise in the Southeastern United States, a glaring omission for a league that aims to have full coverage of the United States.

Last weekend, Atlanta opened a soccer-specific stadium for the Women's Professional Soccer team Atlanta Beat. If WPS can make it in Atlanta, why couldn’t MLS?

6. The Red Bulls need time to establish themselves.

The New York franchise has been a part of MLS since the league's founding in 1996. But with the team's name changes, horrific Giants Stadium lease, and even more horrific performances on the field, they've struggled to establish a large fan base.

This year, the club opened the state-of-the-art, soccer-specific Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. Attendance has been disappointing so far, but the team is basically starting from scratch. They have rich owners, a new facility easily accessible via public transportation, and a large community of European and Latin American immigrants who love soccer.

The Red Bulls need time and support, not a new competitor across the river.

7. The "rivalry" issue is absurd.

Commissioner Garber says the Red Bulls believe a second New York area franchise would actually help them by creating a local rivalry.

This is patently ridiculous. Find me one person who became a Yankees fan because of the Mets, or a Giants fan because of the Jets, or a Rangers fan because of the Devils, or a Knicks fan because of the Nets.

8. Miami.

The city is nicknamed "The Gateway to the Americas" for a reason. Miami is the most Latin American city in the United States. Latin America loves soccer.

Yes, the Miami Fusion failed, but they averaged more than 11,000 fans a game in their final season of 2001. That’s more than this year's average attendance for New England, Dallas, San Jose, Kansas City, or Colorado.

The interest for soccer definitely exists in South Florida—it’s just a matter of harnessing it.

9. The case for a mid-sized city.

In the NBA, San Antonio and Oklahoma City averaged more than 18,000 fans a game this season. In the NHL, Buffalo and Pittsburgh averaged more than 17,000.

The right mid-sized cities are out there, and they'd love a new major-league team to support.

10. Most important of all: New Yorkers want one great team, not two middling teams.

New York is an event town. New Yorkers like a spectacle. They want the best.

You want to attract New Yorkers to MLS? Make the Red Bulls great. Part one of the equation is there—a great new facility that people can get to without driving. Next up: bring in some more high-profile designated players.

To succeed, soccer in New York needs buzz—remember the Cosmos? A mediocre franchise in Queens won't get it done.

For more from contributor Ramin Majd, follow him on Twitter @rmajd

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