Friday, September 01, 2006

KC was just three weeks away from folding

Jamie Trecker has the story on the Kansas City Wizards sale and to sum up, KC is lucky to still have a team.

This deal almost didn't come to pass. According to MLS executives who spoke on condition that they not be identified, the league had set a winter 2006 deadline for the franchise. Citing the league's embarrassment over the franchise and the fact that news leaked that it was on the block, the executives said the choices presented to Hunt were stark: sell or fold.

In fact, when a first referendum on stadium improvements to Arrowhead failed in Kansas City (another measure was eventually passed), the club was just weeks away from closure before talks with Johnson County officials and the Cerner executives began. Out of those talks emerged a deal to put a measure on the November ballot to fund a $75 million bond that would help build a new facility in Overland Park.

By the way, this deal will not be finalized till the voters have their say in November.

The Wizards have always been a sore spot for the league as even when they were playing great, the fans never came and the local media never cared. The rumor is that the club sold for roughly $15 million, which is about what it is worth, however, it is a far cry from the $80-100 million paid for the Metrostars (the situations are not exactly the same, but the point remains valid).

Now the question is what will new owners OnGoal LLC be able to do that Hunt could not? The connection with area youth soccer is important, but that alone will not carry the team to profitability. Till they can crack the local adult sports market, the Wizards will continue to be the backwater of the league.

That said, I think the move out of Arrowhead, even if it is into a college style stadium, will be a good thing. Seeing 5,000 people in the 80,000-seat arena is nothing less then depressing.

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5:10 AM  

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