By Bob Mackin
Seven bids are in, but only two will win.
The Vancouver Whitecaps were last on the list of expansion applicants announced yesterday by Major League Soccer, but only because it's alphabetical. The New York-based league said it would award two franchises for $40 million each sometime before the end of March.
The Whitecaps are one of three Canadian bids. Montreal Impact owner Joey Saputo, Canadiens/Liverpool owner George Gillett and Ottawa Senators' owner Eugene Melnyk previously applied. Miami's bid by businessman Marcelo Claure and Spain's FC Barcelona was a surprise. Others are from Atlanta, St. Louis and Portland, Ore.
MLS president Mark Abbott said bids would be graded on strength of ownership, stadium plan and market attributes.
The consortium of Whitecaps' owner Greg Kerfoot, NBA star Steve Nash and former Yahoo president Jeff Mallett is proposing the club begin play in 2011 at B.C. Place Stadium. By then, the multi- purpose stadium will have a retractable roof and intimate soccer configuration. Whitecaps' president Bob Lenarduzzi said the proposed Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium is also part of the bid.