Will the MLS come to Baltimore? - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Will the MLS come to Baltimore?

It’s been no secret that Major League Soccer is keen to expand to include more teams from different cities in the US. Baltimore is one of the most obvious examples of a major city that is absent from the MLS roster. As such, there has been growing pressure to allow Baltimore to have its own franchised team in the US soccer league. So what would it take for Baltimore to become the next MLS team?

Financial demands

Buying a franchise in Major League Soccer costs a massive amount of money. A quick look at how Sacramento have tried to join the MLS shows the kind of investment needed. Not only would there be the standard franchise fee of around $200 to consider, but the other costs of stadiums and infrastructure would be truly staggering. Obviously the ongoing economic uncertainty of the past couple of years would hardly make Baltimore city councilors any more likely to throw their money at such an ambitious project.

 

The proximity of DC United

While the inclusion of Baltimore in the MLS would be pleasing for many people, there have been a few critics who’ve suggested that DC United is good enough for meeting the demands of soccer fans in the area. One particularly vocal critic suggested that the fact that DC United is just down the I-95 means that Baltimore shouldn’t get its own team. Obviously, such criticism is ignoring the fact that both Los Angeles and New York both have two separate MLS franchises. Plus DC United are currently languishing in the lower reaches of the Eastern Conference, and so a new Baltimore team might have a better time of claiming the MLS title.

Baltimores sporting heritage

Baltimore’s greatest argument for inclusion in the MLS is the city’s sheer sporting heritage. With iconic teams like the Baltimore Ravens and Orioles being some of the biggest names in the nation, it seems almost daft for the city not to have its own Major League Soccer team. Plus it has to be noted that the surrounding state of Maryland just legalized sports betting at its six casinos which is sure to bring in extra revenues and exposure to the city’s sporting projects. While most people who follow this link will see a comparison of casino bonuses, people in Baltimore can head into their local casino and bet on their favorite team. It’s easy to imagine a Baltimore MLS franchise being one of those teams.

How big can the MLS get?

If Baltimore wants to truly join Major League Soccer, it will need to get in there fast. The league has already expanded multiple times since its first incarnation in 2005 and there is surely only a limited number of franchises. Next year will see Charlotte FC being added to the MLS roster and this will be followed by St Louis City SC a year later. If Sacramento is serious about being added to the MLS, it will need to find new sources of investment due to the fact that its primary investor Ron Burkle pulled out of his bid. It might not be too late for Baltimore to seize Sacramento’s place?

Why MLS in Baltimore would be good news for all 

First of all, if Baltimore got an MLS franchise, it would definitely add another hot-blooded local derby to the tournament schedule. The sight of a Baltimore MLS team taking on DC United would be a major attraction and would certainly boost the interest in soccer in the area. Plus it’s worth noting that the University of Maryland has produced no shortage of soccer talent in recent years with the likes of Taylor Twellman being just one excellent example. Such is the demand for MLS soccer in Baltimore that there’s even been the creation of an MLS Baltimore website that illustrates the hunger for the project. But whether the internal politics that power the Major League Soccer project will ever admit Baltimore remains to be seen.


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