Thursday, April 17, 2008

MLS commish threatens to move Houston again if stadium deal is not reached

MLS commissioner Don Garber has drawn the line with the city of Houston by basically saying help build the Dynamo a stadium or the team will move. His exact words:
It is inconceivable that MLS will allow the team to continue playing as a secondary tenant in a college football facility after the League moved the team due to the challenges at San Jose State.

While another relocation would be equally traumatic, we both must consider our options to ensure that the team has a path to economic success. We learned an important lesson in San Jose: a passionate fan base is not enough to support the economics of operating a professional sports team. The team needs a soccer-specific stadium to ensure success.
Is someone over reacting or might der commish truly be looking at the Earthquakes/Dynamo and be thinking 'Miami Wanderers'*?

Whatever the reason, this letter is pretty much a bunch of spit to the face for Dynamo fans. Yes, teams need to make money, but to so callously say 'give us what we want or else' is really disappointing. It didn't work in San Jose so what makes Garber think it will fly in Houston? And what does this signal to the thousands of Dynamo fans that show up match after match? To me it means MLS might not yet be one of the big three sports in America, but they care as little about the fans as most in those leagues seem to.

By the way, I find it very interesting that Garber points out that San Jose didn't work because it doesn't have a stadium, yet the Earthquakes have just started playing again without a stadium deal in place. I guess they will have two years to make it work or Garber will threaten to take the team elsewhere. Hay, after he moves the Dynamo, Houston will be available.

As far as the actual stadium issue, it looks like the City of Houston and the Dynamo are at an impasse caused at least in part over the growing cost of the stadium (it is now priced at $105m, up from $80-90m).

Mayor Bill White has said all along that he didn't plan on using tax dollars for the construction of the site, which the Dynamo seemed okay with, however they now are saying 'the club and the City would share the cost of the project.'

Stadium deals have never been an easy thing, however this one could easily become one of the worse (although the DC situation might still be able to top it).

* I picked Miami because it seems like MLS really wants to go there, just like they really wanted to go to Houston. Plus, there has been stadium talk there of late. Anyway, I have no idea if there is even a city in mind.

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