Monday, January 28, 2008

MLS Expansion - State 'undetermined' on Philadelphia soccer stadium

Even as time moves on, Pennsylvania officials appear to be no closer to reaching an agreement on funding part of the soccer stadium needed to land Philadelphia a MLS franchise.

When asked if the state would provide the needed $45m to make the stadium a reality, State Sen. Dominic Pileggi, the Republican Senate majority leader, said 'undetermined.' He then went on to note that 'GOP legislators have pledged to avoid new spending, and it's unclear whether they will want to provide millions of dollars for a sports stadium when roads, bridges and schools need help.'

However, he made sure to point out that since the proposal is not just about building a stadium, but revitalizing a large portion of the Chester waterfront, he thinks Republicans would be willing to back the plan, especially since 'an award of state money would be contingent on assurances that the housing, restaurants, and other facilities would be built, and that job-creation projections would be met.'

So here we are at the end of January, and the original MLS deadline, and we appear to be no closer to a resolution to this issue. Philadelphia still needs the state money and St. Louis still needs richer investors to get the nod. The league moved their deadline back 30-45 days, but Pileggi doesn't seem overly concerned with the new date saying, "I don't think they're going to set up any artificial deadlines as long as there continues to be positive discussion."

That's all fine and good, but if MLS really wants this team to start playing in 2010 and to do so in their permanent home, a decision needs to be reached soon. Other soccer stadiums have taken 18-24 months to build, meaning that if a stadium is to be ready by April 2010, they need to start building in the next 2-6 months (interestingly, the article says that the 2010 deadline allows for 'two and a half years for construction', however, that would place opening date in July or three months later then MLS currently opens their season).

To me it seems obvious that the league prefers Philadelphia to St. Louis, but at some point, they either need to scrap the 2010 expansion idea or make a choice. Although the St. Louis ownership group apparently isn't as loaded as Philadelphia, if they have a stadium deal, it is hard to argue against them.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

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