Montreal to enter MLS in 2012

MONTREAL (Friday, May 7, 2010) – Montreal, Quebec will be the home of Major League Soccer’s 19th  club, MLS Commissioner Don Garber and expansion team owner Joey Saputo announced today during a press conference at Excentris in Montreal.

Montreal’s MLS team will begin play in 2012 at the newly-renovated Saputo Stadium, which is built on the grounds of Montreal’s Olympic Park. The venue will undergo approximately $23 million CDN in improvements before the new MLS team begins play, and will have a seamless 20,000-seat soccer-specific configuration. In addition, the new team will play a select number of games at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.

 “We are proud to welcome Montreal, the second largest French-speaking city in the world and a multicultural metropolis whose residents are deeply passionate about the world’s game, to Major League Soccer,” Commissioner Garber said. “Joey Saputo and his family are a committed ownership group that truly loves the game and will provide extensive knowledge to MLS based on their years of involvement in the sport. We believe that both Saputo Stadium and Olympic Stadium will provide a world-class soccer environment for supporters in Montreal and throughout the province of Quebec.” 

Joey Saputo spearheads a group of investors, composed of family members who represent their different holdings. For the past 30 years, the Saputo family has played a frontline role in the development of soccer in Canada. First as a sponsor of the Montreal Manic in the North American Soccer League (NASL), it moved on into the 1990s to become owner of the Montreal Impact. The Saputo family has also contributed to the construction of Saputo Stadium.

Montreal becomes the third Canadian team in MLS, joining Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps. Debuting in 2007, Toronto FC was one of the most successful launches of a North American professional sports club in decades.  Now in its fourth season, Toronto FC has sold out every home game in club history, has capped season tickets at 16,000, and has a season-ticket waiting list of more than 10,000 people.  Vancouver, which also has a proven track record of supporting soccer, will join as an MLS expansion team along with Portland in 2011.

“After 17 history-making years, our team and sport have reached a new summit today,” declared Montreal Impact President Joey Saputo. “Our team has evolved and our sport is now major. As a Montrealer, I am extremely proud of the acquisition of an MLS team. This is what Montreal deserved: a great league within a great city.”

Montreal has a long tradition of supporting professional soccer, dating back to the early 1900’s and continuing through the North American Soccer League years in the 1970’s and 80’s. Since 1993, the second division Montreal Impact have provided soccer fans with multiple championships, including the inaugural Nutrilite Canadian Championship in 2008 that qualified the club for the CONCACAF Champions League.  Passion for the sport was evident during that championship run, as 55,571 fans saw the Impact defeat Mexican club Santos Laguna 2-0 in a quarterfinal match at Olympic Stadium on February 25, 2009.

While Olympic Stadium will be used for select matches, the expansion club will call Saputo Stadium home, as the soccer-specific venue that was built in 2008 will be transformed into a world-class soccer facility to provide an even more authentic fan experience for the Montreal MLS team. The improvements include several state-of-the-art amenities, an increase in the number of permanent seats, widened concourses and improved player facilities. Saputo Stadium has a natural grass surface.

With the addition of Montreal, Vancouver and Portland during the next two years, MLS has grown from 10 clubs in 2004 to a 19-team league in 2012.  Details regarding conference alignment and schedule format for future MLS seasons will be unveiled at a later date.

The details regarding ticket reservation for MLS 2012 were also unveiled on Friday. It is possible to reserve seats now or alternatively, to register online on a priority list at www.montrealmls2012.com.

The best way to obtain a season ticket for MLS 2012 is by purchasing an Impact season ticket. All 2011 Impact season subscribers will get priority over their seats for the 2012 season in MLS.

For all non-Impact season ticket holders, there will only be 5,000 seats available on presale. Registration on a priority list will be required and a $50 deposit will be requested per ticket. Registered individuals will be able to reserve their seat prior to the general public sale. However, their orders will be processed after season ticket holder reservations and in chronological order, on the basis of registration date on the list. This deposit is applicable on the payment of each ticket but is non-refundable.

For further information on the reservation procedure or to register on the priority list, visit www.montrealmls2012.com.