Just as Seattle seems set to lose an NBA team, so it gains an MLS one. I’m not sure that’s an equal trade in the American sports arena yet, but it’s excellent news that the league will finally have a presence in the Pacific Northwest. It’s been rumoured for a while, but the Seattle P.I. affirmed the news today.
Sources confirmed on Friday that the long-rumored announcement of an expansion franchise for the city will come early next week. The new Seattle franchise will play at Qwest Field on Field Turf. The primary ownership group will consist of Seattle Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer, Hollywood mogul Joe Roth, and Seahawks’ owner Paul Allen.
That’s a big time ownership group, adding to the diversification in recent years. Rumours have also been that the team will retain the name of the USL’s Sounders, with the team closing its doors for 2008: whilst keeping the name would make sense, closing the doors for a year wouldn’t. Why not build some momentum?
The other outstanding issue is the stadium. Qwest is a huge NFL venue, albeit one built with soccer in mind to some degree, as I understand it. It’ll be better than, say, Arrowhead, but it still won’t be very full and it’s another Field Turf surface. Is that a step back for MLS, after the successful launch of Toronto F.C. in a soccer specific stadium?
MLS will also probably add a sixteenth franchise alongside Seattle in 2009. It’d be nice if it were Portland, given the longstanding rivalry between the Timbers and the Sounders (see pic of the Timbers Army at Qwest above) and the obvious genuine passion for the sport there. But it seems more likely to be Philadelphia. Is this pace of expansion too rapid?