Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber was back in town on Wednesday, and he reaffirmed what was already known — that an all-star game or MLS Cup remains in Kansas City’s future.
“I think it’s just a matter of when — certainly not if — we bring some major MLS events to this market,” said Garber, who attended Sporting’s game against Colorado.
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However, when pressed to give an answer on when an announcement would be made, Garber remained noncommittal, other than saying he doesn’t expect a decision on either 2012 event to be made before the end of the year.
“All I can say is that as we start looking at our event schedule over the next couple years, K.C. will be on the list of teams we’re looking at,” Garber said. “But we’re just not at the point where we’ve finalized details.”
Garber reinforced Sporting’s candidacy of hosting both events by mentioning the upcoming MLS SuperDraft, which will be held in January at the Kansas City Convention Center. Garber also praised the job the team has done hosting other high-profile events since the new $200 million stadium opened in June, which included the CONCACAF Gold Cup Tournament and friendlies involving Newcastle United, Chivas Guadalajara and the U.S. women’s national team.
“The ownership group has overdelivered on our expectations, not just for Livestrong (Sporting Park), but also on its whole relaunch of Sporting,” Garber continued. “This market has really reacted to the branding of the team.”
Sporting CEO Robb Heineman told The Star in October that the stadium has boosted the team’s revenue in a number of areas. Garber agreed with the notion that the franchise has come a long way since the new ownership group bought the team the Hunt family a few years ago.
“There was an ongoing concern as to where the Kansas City MLS team was, and what kind of things needed to happen to get it to our expectations,” Garber said. “And right now, Kansas City is performing very well.
Garber was also in town for a MLS competition committee meeting, which concluded a couple of hours before the game. Among the things discussed where the 2012 schedule, which remains a hot topic because of the planned addition of Montreal, the league’s 19th team.
“It’s possible that with 19 teams, we’ll end up with an unbalanced schedule,” Garber said.
The commissioner was otherwise tightlipped about the discussion topics of the meeting, though he did reveal that a number of those who attended also planned to attend Wednesday’s game, which Garber contends is a sign of respect.
“This is the first time we’ve had an owners committee meeting in Kansas City, and it’s a statement about what we think of this market,” Garber said. “It really has turned into a terrific soccer market.”