The more I read about the desired 20th MLS franchise and the league's assertion that they want a second franchise in New York, the more befuddled I am about the whole situation. Before Seattle came into the MLS, the league was really, really struggling (maybe you could argue that Toronto started it the year before). Attendance was by far the lowest when compared to other major U.S. sports and television ratings were laughable. Today, the television part remains an issue, but attendance and passion in the stadiums certainly does not.
Now, MLS ranks as the 3rd highest average attendance across major U.S. sports, only behind the NFL and MLB. Who could have imagined that a few years back? Now, I hate to admit it because I cannot stand the Sounders, but this is in large part due to their fans. After Seattle came in and people across the country saw what type of atmosphere could be created at a soccer game, the MLS took off in every new city it has landed in. Seattle, Philadelphia, Portland, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Kansas City (I consider their re-branding and new stadium as essentially getting a new team) are the 7 of the 8 franchises with the highest "percentage full" of their stadiums this year - all above 96% except Toronto (90%, who can blame them).
Where is New York, the team with arguably the most money in the league, with superstars Henry and Marquez? A measly 68.7% attendance. That is pathetic! They have one of the best records in the league and are still not drawing crowds to their beautiful new stadium. My question is why does MLS see it as such a priority to reward the city with ANOTHER franchise when the first is not even that popular? Wouldn't the league be better off going to a city such as Orlando, who has the highest attendance and one of the best supporters groups in the USL. Why not at least try something different -- Charlotte, Atlanta, Phoenix, San Diego, anywhere that the league can expand to?
Has anyone heard why New York is so high up on MLS' list compared to these other cities? I want MLS to grow and I do not think another team in New York is going to help.