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MLS expansion plan expected Friday

Published Oct. 1, 2005

Major League Soccer is expected to announce Friday its plans to expand to Chicago and Miami in 1998, one year ahead of schedule.

The expansion would give the league 12 teams for its third season, but more important for Tampa Bay, it would seem to provide stability for the Mutiny.

Rumors have been around awhile that the Mutiny would move, perhaps to Miami, after this season if attendance didn't improve. The Mutiny drew an average of 11,679 at Houlihan's Stadium last season, next-to-last in the league.

MLS commissioner Doug Logan, however, says he refused offers from investors in Miami and Orlando to buy the team from the league last season.

"I'm not moving any team during my tenure," Logan said last month. "So you'd better find somebody to fire me before any team moves. Get another guy, because this guy won't move any teams."

Logan also directed his comments at rumors the Colorado Rapids might move. The Rapids were last in attendance, averaging 10,276 at Mile High Stadium in Denver.

In a recent letter to Tampa Bay business leaders, Logan dispelled rumors of a Mutiny move.

"Despite the belief of the Tampa Bay media, the Mutiny will not be moving to Miami, or any other market, while I am commissioner," Logan wrote. "I am preparing a press release that will state, unequivocally, my intention to keep the Mutiny in Tampa Bay for many years to come."

Mutiny president and general manager Nick Sakiewicz is encouraged by the expansion. But he said Wednesday that regardless of whether the league expands, the Mutiny never planned to leave.

"I think this is just further proof that we're not lying," Sakiewicz said. "I think (the media) are the only ones who thought we were moving. We knew we weren't going anywhere.

"I think (expansion) is great for us. It gives us an intrastate rivalry that should create a lot of interest."

Originally, MLS planned to start expansion in 1999 by adding two teams, then add two teams every other year until it reached 16.