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Wednesday, 11 March 2009 10:17

There's a been a lot of chat about how the going price for an MLS team—$40 million—is way too high.

It started as a low grumble last January when MLS announced that whoever got to MLS headquarters with a check first—St. Louis or Philadelphia—could have a team for $30 million, but the next guy through the door was going to need another $10 mil.

But it really got rolling when L'Impact de Montreal Head hoser Joey Saputo figured he could buy in for considerably less and "Donny the G" told him to take a hike.

Then late last week prospective Miami owner Marcelo Claure, implied that the price was just a bit steep and the ITTET Group backed out of the deal. Although in the fullness of time, it's becoming increasingly apparent that nobody involved was particularly interested consummating the deal, and for a lot more reasons than just the price. Be that as it may, it now appears the two new teams are more or less in the bag. Globe and Mail reported on Saturday that Vancouver and the league have come to an agreement, and that Portland, despite some last-minute temper tantrums, door slamming, and breath holding, will quickly follow now that Merritt Paulson has agreed to limit the city's financial liability.
I'm still pretty unhappy with the Vancouver offer, which started out last fall saying they'd use BC Place as a temporary home, a meme which has been totally forgotten, apparently, but that's for another day. So the question I have for the legions of people who have been droning on about how $40 million is "too much, particularly ITTET," let me tell you something. I know that education in economics has gone by the boards—particularly amongst journalism students, apparently—but last I knew a price wasn't "too high" if people are willing to pay it.
If Merritt Paulson and Greg Kerfoot are both putting $40 million checks in the mail, then even the most obtuse of North American soccer writers will have to admit that the price was right.

In any case, some time today, out in Portland, Ore., the City Fathers will give their blessing to the stadiums projects which will result in a soccer specific stadium in their fair location.

Over the weekend there was a good deal of posturing, door slamming and negotiating via the media over the whole thing, but in the end, the city got Paulson to agree to cover any cost overruns and the deal was set.

This goes with the news, first reported by the Globe and Mail late Friday and since claimed as their own by 50 or so of the less-reputable soccer Web sites, that Kerfoot is busy crossing the t's and dotting the i's on a contract to put MLS into Vancouver.

I have to say that this one mystifies me. Back last summer, Garber visited up there and toured BC Place which, everyone agreed, was a fine venue to use as a temporary home while the new waterfront stadium was being built.

All of a sudden, BC Place is being touted as a wonderful soccer stadium and the actual soccer stadium never gets mentioned. It will be interesting to see if, when the formal announcement is made, someone mentions the original plan, but in the absence of anything of that sort it appears that MLS wanted Vancouver so badly that they agreed to play in a 60,000 seat football stadium covered in plastic grass.

If this isn't a step backwards, I wish someone would explain how.

Otherwise, it appears that St. Louis has, once again, gotten the shaft. I'm certain the commissioner will make some very kind, conciliatory mouth noises in their direction, but the bottom line is probably that MLS is now a dead issue there.

As for the other remaining candidate, Eugene Melnyk's Ottawa bid, the less said the better. MLS loved the plan and loved Melnyk, but Ottawa just isn't a town they want to be in.

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