There's no doubt that Major League Soccer's focus for team No. 20 remains clearly on putting a team in New York proper. While the ownership and stadium situations remain in limbo, though, pressure seems to increasing from other markets. Ownership groups hoping to put expansion teams in Detroit and Las Vegas are both moving forward with stadium plans.
Near Detroit, the owners of the Silverdome recently said they could have their stadium renovated for soccer in time for the 2014 season. Their plan includes tearing the roof off the Silverdome and building a 30,000-seat facility atop a concert hall and an indoor sports facility.
Near Las Vegas, the city of Henderson gave approved the earliest stages of a planned $1 billion development that would potentially include a soccer stadium.
The problem with both stadium plans, aside from the obvious one that they aren't actually in New York, is that neither seems to really fit the vision MLS has created for itself moving forward. In some ways, in fact, they represent the direction the league has been running away from ever since Toronto FC joined the league in 2007 and really starting making soccer seem hip.
While the image Silverdome owners have created would have looked like a jewel compared to the stadiums of an earlier MLS era, the sheer fact that it's in suburban Pontiac, Mich. and surrounded by an enormous parking lot has to be some cause for concern. That doesn't even deal with the reality that Michigan in general and Detroit in particular are still taking the brunt of the ongoing economic recession. You can understand why MLS is not falling over itself to put what they say will be their final foreseeable expansion team there.
On the surface, putting a stadium in Las Vegas more closely fits the direction MLS has charted. Thing is, this stadium is not really in the city who the team would be named after. Henderson is home to many massive casinos and surely has significant wealth, but by no means is it anything like the urban oasis for which MLS yearns. The stadium would be far from the casual Las Vegas tourist and would be almost entirely reliant upon locals to support the team in a market that is almost completely untested when it comes to the ebbs and flows of a professional regular season.
Still, these developments have to be seen as good news for fans of the league. Pressure is building on the league to find a 20th team and on NY2 to get an ownership together. These are undeniably positive developments.