Sounders FC

Montreal to join MLS in 2012 as 19th team

Montreal will join Major League Soccer as its 19th team in 2012, and commissioner Don Garber hopes to add a second New York club as early as 2013.

Montreal was announced at a news conference Friday and will be owned by the Saputo family, which runs the Montreal Impact of the U.S. Soccer Federation D-2 Pro League. It will play primarily in Saputo Stadium, which opened two years ago and is to undergo about $22 million in renovations. Its capacity will increase from 13,000 to 20,000.

Some games will be in Olympic Stadium, the home of the Montreal Expos from 1977-04. Olympic Stadium, which holds more than 50,000, will host an exhibition between the Impact and AC Milan on June 2.

“It opens up a whole new market in French-speaking Canada, which is important as we position ourselves as a global sports league,” Garber told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “There is a whole secondary market here in Canada, particularly in Quebec, represented by the French-speaking population.”

MLS currently has 16 teams. Portland and Vancouver, B.C., were announced in March 2009 as expansion teams for 2011. Toronto FC started play in 2007.

Montreal will pay a $40 million expansion fee, up from $35 million each for Portland and Vancouver.

“I think the rivalry between Montreal and Toronto will be absolutely fantastic,” Impact chairman Joey Saputo said.

With the Red Bulls moving into a new stadium this year in Harrison, N.J., Garber said he hopes to have a team in the New York metropolitan area next.


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