Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Expansion into the 2014 Season and Beyond

After the initial success of the very first season of the MLU, fans and prospective ultimate players began to discuss the possibility of expansion. Due to the MLU's major competition being the AUDL, often times the leagues are compared to each other (see League Competition with the AUDL blog).  In this being the AUDL's third upcoming season, they have expanded to 17 teams throughout the United States and Canada after also starting with an initial eight teams. There are plenty of cities that would love to raise a team, on the East Coast, the West Coast, and even in the Midwest, and after the success of the inaugural season many are wondering where to next.

The current criteria for certain locations to foster an MLU franchise, according to the MLU's website, are based on the following:
1. Metro Population
2. Ability to support multiple sports franchises
3. Relative distance to other conference teams
4. Strong local ultimate community and youth ultimate programs

Currently the MLU is content with the eight team, two conference league they have right now. Their focus for the next couple of seasons will be to expand their fan base in the eight current cities they have now before they try and move into different areas of the country. The league is more concerned with creating a professional league and having a foundation for it before trying to grow it into something bigger. It is confirmed for the 2014 season that there will be no new teams entering the league. In fact it is not expected for new cities to be slated to join the MLU until 2017, in which hopefully the new Central Division will be added. Also the league hopes to add an additional team in each conference, one in New Jersey and one in San Jose, but also neither of these teams are expected to join until at least the 2017 season.

So sorry to all potential players not in the Northeast or Northwest corners of the county, no new teams will be added to the league in the next couple of years. However your time will come and new franchises in new cities will be established.

(Below is a picture from the MLU's website for potential expansion loctaions)

Even though there will be no expansion for the next three years, in an email interview I had with the commissioner Jeff Snader, he said that "[the league] is slated for cross-conference play in 2015." So who knows maybe these cross-conference games will take place in a neutral location, like Denver or Chicago, or maybe they will simply give the both conferences a look into the different teams in the league. One thing is for sure, big things are coming for Major League Ultimate.

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