Expansion: Cities, Odds, Dead Ends?

With so many people already commenting on this, I feel a little silly linking to the Las Vegas Sun article clocking the race to be one of the next two – or is it four? – cities Major League Soccer (MLS) will welcome into the league by 2010…or is it 2012? But there’s one item in the article I don’t think anyone else flagged, so I thought I’d do it here as a public service of sorts:

Even though we post odds purely for entertainment reasons, heed them. Pay close attention to the four with the lowest odds and you might have the next four MLS franchises.”

And those top four are: Seattle, Washington (3-2); St. Louis, Missouri (4-1); Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (6-1); and New York, Mark II (8-1).

Normally, if you see a 3-2 anywhere other than horse racing, you consider it a sure shot (in horse racing you 1) know the bookmakers just doomed the horse attached to those odds for this year’s Kentucky Derby, and, 2) you avoid that horse like the plague ’cause it won’t pay for shit). Roughly the same applies on a 4-1. All the same, I find the order of the odds interesting given my sense that both Philly and St. Louis got out ahead of Seattle in terms of having firm stadium plans. Then again, in the particular section discussing Seattle, there’s this line:

MLS has repeatedly tried, and failed, to court Seahawks owner and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Look for that courtship to succeed this fall.”

(There’s actually a little touch of irony in that entry: every other “background” section of the individual city breakdowns talks about the given city’s soccer history…not Seattle’s…hmmm….)

This gets me wondering whether we’ll wind up in what I view as a kind of dodgy situation, one that grows in part from desperation to get an MLS presence in the Pacific Northwest: e.g. will a Seattle MLS team start in at Qwest Field, home to the Seattle Seahawks? This makes me skittish because I know a little about how Northwest people can be about taxes and, with Seattle especially, funding stadiums – assuming it comes to the latter. If memory serves (and that’s all I’m willing to go by right now), Seattle residents got burned pretty badly with cost overruns on Safeco Field; the same could apply to Qwest. If, as seems possible, a Seattle expansion team gets stuck playing in some capacious bowl of a stadium with fans dotting the inside like so many freckles, well…that’ll kinda suck.

I’ll still show up, mind you. But I’m a total whore.

But, as the Las Vegas Sun article says in its lead, it seems almost churlish to point this out. These are, indeed, heady times for MLS.