Thursday, January 19, 2006

DC United sale off; San Jose stadium funding axed

In the past few days, two bad pieces of news for the MLS. First off, the biggest deal in MLS history is off. Six months ago AEG sold the operating rights for a MLS-record price of more than $25 million to DC local group Global Development Partners. Everyone rejoiced and pointed to it as an example of how far soccer and the MLS has come in America. What will be said about it now?

When the deal was announced, AEG said they would continue to run the team till the contract was finalized sometime in early 2006. They stressed that even though it was not finished, this agreement was binding. However, AEG has decided to return all money related to this sale to Global.

Also of interest, Global apparently plans to continue pursuing a partnership with the team and the city on a mixed-use development project at Poplar Point in Anacostia that would include a 27,000-seat soccer stadium.

Seeing how Global's strongest suit was their ability to make real estate events happen, this is not a huge surprise. Maybe Global could not handle the operations of a sports team, but knew they could make a stadium a reality. For AEG, if they could get a stadium out of the deal, it might be worth return the already paid money to Global. Then again, this might just be me going in over my head.

Talking about stadiums here is the other bad piece of news. Plans to bring MLS back to San Jose took a bit of a hit when "San Jose's parks and recreation commission ... voted 7-0 to reject the idea of tapping bond money from Measure P that city voters approved in 2000 for community park renovations and public sports fields, and using it to help pay for a professional soccer team's stadium."

The proposal can move forward to the city council without the commission's support, however "none of the city's elected leaders so far have publicly stated support for redirecting Measure P money toward a pro soccer stadium."

This does not mean that soccer is dead in San Jose, it just means the city is not willing to use a bit of a twist to make it happen. Short of putting a new proposal in front of voters, the only other real alternative to getting a stadium in town is full private funding. I think that would be a fantastic way to go and one that would pay off in the long run, however post people would rather have other people pay their bills, so I don't think this will come up any time soon.

By the way, MLS officials say they are planning to visit San Jose "the near future'' to talk with elected officials. Now we get to see what MLS considers "near future" when it comes to San Jose.



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