Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Of Bulls and MetroStars

So the sale of the MetroStars to Red Bull, Inc. has reached a "serious stage." According to speculation, soon, perhaps by Thursday, we might just get word that AEG is no longer the owner of the Metros. The weird thing is, how much this deal is a good thing for MLS.

If rumors are to be believed, the Metros might sell for a price tag of $25-50 million. That is huge. DC United has had a lot more success then the Metros and their sale price last June was a record $26 million. If the Metros could bring in as much or more then DC, it would be a huge boost for the league.

AEG owner Philip Anschutz is not liked much in New Jersey. This dislike hit its peak four years ago when the state sued Anschutz over his role in the collapse of Qwest Communications (a company he chaired). The charge against Anschutz was fraud. The state lost $167 million when the company went down. Do you really think the state is itching to help with anything affiliated with Anschutz?

This sale would decrease the number of teams AEG owns while bringing new ownership into the league. The more people you have invested in the league, the better the chance of success. Also, the fewer teams per owner, the more they can focus their organization.

Perhaps the best reason of all for the sale is the amount of PR Red Bull would pour into the team. Just think about all the bars and grocery stores that carry Red Bull. Now imagine every one of them also advertising the MLS. That would be something we've never seen before.

As good as all that is, it appears the price for such news is our history. For ten years the MetroStars have played, sometimes, not so great, and for ten years fans have cheered, sometimes, not so many. If Red Bull were to come in and erase that history, it would also erase everything the fans created.

The thing is, there is such an easy solution to this problem. If they just called the club Red Bull MetroStars or MetroStars RB, then most fans would be fine with the change. Red Bull could still place their logo all over the shirt and fans would still have their history.

I also think this would make advertising for the team easier. How serious do you think a casual soccer fan is going to take a club called Red Bull? They will look at it as a joke.

If Red Bull makes a few small changes in their approach to the new team, I think they will find a lot of open arms. However, if their history is any indication, the concerns of fans will mean very little.

Update: The Kin of Fish gives a great local write-up of this saga here.


Blogger Mr. Fish said...

Mike, I think your last line speaks to MLS' failing grace. Fans' concerns don't mean a whole lot in any sport. Just look at the whole Man U - Glazer thing which seems to have blown over. We only can vote with our wallets.

10:45 AM  

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