MLS boss Garber welcomes Montreal as latest expansion franchise

MLS Commissioner Don Garber has confirmed Montreal as its 19th team in 2012.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber has confirmed Montreal as its 19th team in 2012.

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. "There is a whole secondary market here in Canada, particularly in Quebec, represented by the French-speaking population. That gives us business and corporate opportunities. It gives us media opportunities, because there's French language radio and television both here and nationally."

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

Impact chairman Joey Saputo hopes the team will be able to keep its name, logo and blue color in MLS.

"I think the rivalry between Montreal and Toronto will be absolutely fantastic," he said. "We see it in all the other sports, whether it be hockey or football. And even from a business standpoint, there's always this rivalry between Montreal and Toronto."

Have your say