Montreal, for Real
I am not going to pretend to know the financial aspects of Montreal's MLS ambitions, whether Canadiens owner George Gillett (Liverpool) will back the bid or what the Commish's true thoughts are about placing a club there, but after spending a couple vacation days in the fair city on the St. Lawrence, I do hope MLS will strongly consider awarding Montreal an expansion team in the near future.
Why? Though Montreal is less than two hours from the New York and Vermont borders, make no mistake: It is Europe. While Toronto is a mix of NYC and London, Montreal is Paris Jr. It's a city of culture with centuries of history and distinct French influence.
The new Stade Saputo, home of the USL1's Impact, sits in the Olympic Park on the east side of town, in the shadow of the world's tallest inclined tower, and is within walking distance of two Metro stations. The seating capacity would need to be expanded from its current 13,000, but it's a good start. The Impact averaged more than 11,000 each of the past three seasons and has a well-established supporters group, UM02.
Once the Expos departed and became the lowly Nationals (whose ownership joined MLB and proceeded to fleece the D.C. government into building a publicly funded stadium and then refused to pay rent), Montreal was left with only one entry in a U.S.-geared league (the Canadiens). European sports influence can be found in kiosks and shops along the port and through the old town, where merchandise from Euro '08 and Serie A clubs, as well as Formula One racing, are on display.
What are your thoughts about Montreal possibly joining MLS? Or would you rather see a western city selected (Vancouver or Portland) in the next round of expansion? And what about a second New York area club -- some would argue that, um, there aren't any teams there now -- another midwestern entry (St. Louis) or a southeastern club (Atlanta or Miami)?
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