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Football – MLS – Two More Clubs


Cynics said it would never last, that Americans would not support football, that it had been tried before and failed and so on. But twelve seasons after its inception, Major League Soccer (MLS) continues its steady and meticulous growth.
Today there are 13 teams-seven in the east division and six in the west – and franchises are now valued at USD 30 million. San Jose will be the fourteenth team, beginning next season, and according to Dan Courtemanche, MLS Vice-President of Communications, there are a number of other markets interested in securing a franchise from Seattle to St Louis to Vancouver in Canada.
“We’ll be adding two more teams in the next two years and maybe a few more after that,” Courtemanche reveals. “We have major corporate sponsors and four national television networks that are paying us significant rights fees to televise our games. Two of them are eight-year agreements with ABC/ESPN that started this year and another with the InnerVision network that also started this year. Then we have a four-year agreement with Fox Soccer channel which started last year and we have a three-year agreement with HDNet, the high-definition channel. Seven of our 13 teams are competing in stadiums built specifically for MLS football,” says Courtemanche. “This is tremendous because we had none when we started out in 1996.” Average attendance across the league has climbed marginally to between 15,000 and 16,000 but the bar has been raised with the most recent franchise addition, Toronto FC, filling the 20,000-seat BMO Field and boasting 14,000 season-ticket holders.