If Steven Goff didn't exist, we'd have to invent him department:
Goff, in an ARTICLE ON FRIDAY with a FOLLOWUP TODAY is passing along some disturbing news, namely that the USA - Honduras match is unlikely to be available on a TV set near you.
And we're not talking about another mun2 circus, or even jumping around Justin.tv as the rights holders register complaints and the stations shut down. Rather, the broadcaster in this case, something called Media World, a US company partly owned by "MediaPro", a Spanish-based firm which apparently specializes in the dreaded "closed circuit" distribution model, intends to make it virtually impossible for you to watch.
To those of you who came in late, welcome to 1997; you'll love Toni Braxton.
ESPN reportedly tried to negotiate a deal but Goff quotes an ESPN source as saying that "The rights holder is planning to exploit the rights via a different avenue that does not include ESPN." For their part, the rights holders are claiming that they offered the rights around for under a million bucks and found no takers:
"We gave everybody the opportunity to buy the [live] rights and they not only passed, but they didn't even want to negotiate"
Just to be clear here: we're not talking about pay-per-view at home, like when you pony up $49.95 to watch Roy Jones Jr. beat up on some tomato can; we're talking bars and restaurants.
It's funny how just when we start to take this stuff for granted along comes a reminder that we've still got a ways to go.
Toronto to the Fescue
The Board of Governors of Exhibition Place, the guys who apparently call the shots at BMO, have generously agreed to let Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment shell out an absurd amount of their own money on sports facilities that will include real, actual, feed-it-to-your-horse grass for TFC.
Approval from the City is still required, but seems assured.
The proposal includes $3.5 million for the grass installation at BMO Field, $1.2 million to put a bubble over city-owned Lamport Stadium to accommodate public use requirements and $800,000 to build an artificial turf field at Lakeshore Collegiate Institute.
Damn nice of them to accept over five million bucks of someone else's money, I grant you, but this is a move we can all applaud and speaks to how serious MLSE is about fielding a winner up there.
Coupled with the RedBulls moving out of that green-carpeted Grand Canyon, that'll be two fewer teams playing on plastic in 2010. Drinks are on me.
Unfortunately, Commissioner Garber and his "Slow Growth" expansion plans ("slow" in this case being a euphemism for "how quickly can you write me a check?") MLS keeps adding new plastic fields at about the same rate.
However, even that pales in comparison to the disaster brewing in Vancouver where there appears to be some chance - no one can say exactly how much of one - that the roof replacement project which was integral to their bid may be headed for limbo.
The reason that's a disaster is that the project, which was to replace the current Teflon blow-up roof with a newfangled retractable model, was intended partly as a downsizer for the stadium, from 60,000 seats to around 22,000.
If the deal gets binned, or even shelved for a while, the prospect of an MLS team playing on plastic in a 60,000 seat indoor football arena becomes a very real possibility, unless MLS plans on giving them back the money.
The league's rhetoric doesn't seem to match it's actions, and it's a disturbing trend. You can't come into the league unless you have a stadium, but San Jose didn't, doesn't and isn't going to. Houston may have one someday. Seattle? Hey, they're "great, great fans" so who cares if they didn't feel like playing by the same rules as everyone else?
If we really do have this "go slow, get it right" expansion policy then how does this garbage keep happening?
More to the point, how many more lectures from Drew Carey on how to run a soccer team will we have to sit through before someone asks him how soon they're going to build a stadium like everyone else instead of just hauling in grass for, you know, real soccer teams?
Everything's Up to Date in Kansas City
On the other hand, they're suddenly fighting like cats and dogs over who's going to get the new stadium the Wizards desperately need.
The deal was cut with Kansas City Missouri (in the Show Me State) for the 18,500 seater plus the now-requisite professional buildings, stores, massage parlors et. at., some time ago but they're still not ready to pull the trigger.
Suddenly, Kansas City Kansas (does Kansas have a motto? Something about Sunflowers or something?) is stepping up with their own pile of gummint money and the team is poised to jump on it like Rosie O'Donnell on an Ice Cream truck.
The Missouri crowd seems to feel they've been stabbed in the back, but how can you blame the Wizzies for wanting to get the hell out of Community America and into a building where they can sell more seats, park more cars, peddle more beer and otherwise act like a real soccer team?
You snooze, you lose KCM.