Major League Soccer douses rumors about imminent South Florida franchise

03/05/2013 12:01 AM

03/05/2013 1:10 AM

South Florida soccer fans were abuzz over weekend reports that Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber had met with the Miami Dolphins ownership group last week about bringing an MLS expansion team to Sun Life Stadium.

Turns out, there have been no formal meetings between the two sides, and there is no imminent plan to bring a team to South Florida, although this market will remain in consideration.

Garber and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross have known each other a long time, and have discussed real estate projects in New York. But MLS Vice President Dan Courtemanche dismissed any suggestion that Garber is pushing for Sun Life Stadium’s proposed $400 million worth of renovations, or using possible expansion as an incentive to drum up support from taxpayers.

“We remain focused on securing a 20th team for Major League Soccer in New York, but we do believe we will have an MLS team in the Southeast at some point,” Courtemanche said Monday. “As it relates specifically to potential Florida markets, we have had ongoing discussions with Orlando City SC about expansion in Central Florida, and we know that South Florida is one of the most passionate soccer markets in North America.”

“We have a good relationship with RSE Ventures [Ross’ group] through our commercial arm, Soccer United Marketing, but we have not had any formal discussions with RSE or the Dolphins regarding a future expansion team in Miami. We believe we will have an MLS team in South Florida someday, but our current focus remains on securing an expansion team for New York.”

Dolphins CEO Mike Dee addressed the rumors Monday afternoon on Twitter: “Commissioner Garber’s apparent interest in MIA is the latest testament to our growing reputation as the premier soccer market in N. America. While we’ve not taken part in formal discussions re ownership of a MLS team, we’d certainly keep an open mind w/r/t any proposals that could bring an MLS franchise to Miami.”

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