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By ESPN Staff

Seven cities bid for two MLS expansion teams

NEW YORK -- A group that includes two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash submitted a bid Wednesday for a Major League Soccer franchise in Vancouver, British Columbia, and the family of Liverpool co-owner George Gillett applied for a team in Montreal.

Seven cities bid for two expansion teams, which the MLS said will be selected by the end of March. Also applying were Atlanta; Miami; Ottawa; Portland, Ore.; and St. Louis.

Nash, a Phoenix Suns guard was joined by Greg Kerfoot, owner of the United Soccer League's Vancouver Whitecaps, and Jeff Mallett, a former president and chief operating officer at Yahoo Inc. Nash and Jeff Mallett have previously invested in the Women's Professional Soccer league, which starts play next year.

NBA spokesman Brian McIntyre said the league doesn't prohibit players from owning franchises in other sports.

The family of Gillett, who owns the NHL's Montreal Canadiens and co-owns Liverpool with Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars owner Tom Hicks, was joined in the Montreal bid by the Saputo family, which controls the dairy processor Saputo Inc.

Arthur Blank, who controls the NFL's Atlanta Falcons and the Arena Football League's Georgia Force, submitted Atlanta's bid. Miami's application was put it by the Spanish club Barcelona and BrightStar Corp. chairman Marcelo Claure, a Miami resident who owns the Bolivian club Bolivar.

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk submitted the bid for his city, and Portland's was put in by the Paulson family, which controls the USL's Portland Timbers and Portland Beavers of baseball's Triple-A Pacific Coast League.

Jeff Cooper, a lawyer who also heads the St. Louis WPS franchise, submitted the St. Louis bid. He also is on the board of Brentford, a League Two team in England.

The Wilpon family, the controlling owner of baseball's New York Mets, had considered bidding for a team in Queens or Long Island but did not apply.

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