"The health of our league has never been better," Gross said on the heels of MLL's 10th anniversary season. "Ten years gives us legitimacy."LM also has a poll regarding these four new teams. The poll lists 19 potential expansion markets targeted by MLL as mentioned by Gross. Whether or not this list is inclusive or just exemplary is not known.
"We feel there is enough talent," he said of expansion plans. "It will also help keep guys in the league longer."
MLL has identified 19 markets in which it has interest, including: Atlanta, Columbus(Ohio), Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville(Tenn.), Orange County (Calif.), Orlando (Fla.), Pittsburgh, Raleigh-Durham(N.C.), Salt Lake City and Virginia Beach (Va.). The league has also examined the possibility of a team in either Portland, Ore., or Seattle.To vote, follow this link.
Also on the list are Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco, home of former MLL franchises Machine, Barrage and Dragons, respectively.
Gross states that all 19 markets have ownership groups ready to invest in the league, something that has been a large problem in the past. This list seems fairly focused and contains a nice mix of large and mid size markets. Kansas City is conspicuously absent, however... In fact, only two of the five teams I proposed in a recent poll are on the list.However, I feel that there may be hope for Kansas City (and possibly one more city on the list). Gross said that the league will announce the two new 2012 teams this February. Generally that means that everything is in place and ready to go. Logically, the league is no longer targeting these markets as they have already acquired them; therefore these cities would not be on the above list. Given that Sporting Kansas City specifically mentioned lacrosse during the MLS team's rebranding, it makes sense that they may have been one of the cities included in the first round of expansion.
"But like European soccer clubs," Heineman said, "several other sports, such as lacrosse and rugby, will fall under the Sporting Kansas City umbrella in the future."
Whether SKC is set to be one of the 2012 teams is uncertain. However, it is entirely possible. The omission of Kansas City from the target list may also serve as a strategic slight of hand by Gross. By keeping quiet about the confirmed markets and throwing out a large list of possible markets, the commissioner allows the official announcement to build excitement. In this day and age of spoilers and WikiLeaks, it would be a nice change of pace to see a professional league drop a bomb like this. I guess we will find out in February...
For what it is worth, my top guesses for the upcoming announcement are Kansas City, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, and Milwaukee.
This expansion would compliment the rebirth of the Rochester Rattlers and the rumored move of the Toronto Nationals to Hamilton. The Rattlers were already announced while official word about the Nationals is expected to come before the end of the year.