In the aftermath of Don Garber's miniature press conference - sorry, "State of the League" - let's talk about stadiums really quick. Rob Stone caught Don Garber in a ridiculous contradiction - Miami is out of the league without a downtown stadium, despite Marlins Park being completely unoccupied during the summer. But NYCFC and LAFC are in MLS no matter what, even if they have to play in the Rose Bowl. Both of them.
Well, here's what we should remember:
If NYCFC, LAFC, and Red Star Miami or whatever they end up being called are able to build their stadiums? Then what Don Garber said to Rob Stone in December 2014 doesn't matter.
If NYCFC, LAFC and Miami are not able to build their own stadiums? Then what Don Garber said to Rob Stone in December 2014 doesn't matter.
And Don Garber, no matter what he says when to whom, will not have that much impact on whether NYCFC, LAFC and Miami do, in fact, build their own stadiums. He's not the President, he's just the Commissioner of Major League Soccer.
Commissar Garber brings a bit of this on himself based based on calling mini-press round tables things like "State of the League addresses." Sports commissioners are paid by their owners to act like they are chief executives, when, well, I didn't use the term "their owners" by accident.
I think most of us are adults on this topic, but you'd never know it to read some of the Hot Takes! after the conference/interview/"State of the League." There are, unfortunately, people who need to be told that no MLS Commissioner is going to, for example, establish free agency. Or unilaterally raise the salary cap. He is an employee of the owners, paid to execute their rules and policies. He's not, for example, going to suddenly call for the overthrow of single entity. For further research on this topic, consult my reference textbook "Why So Few Muslim Popes?"
I honestly don't understand why people get so angry at Don Garber, personally, when he is so clearly voicing league policies.
Because he's widely seen as the driving force behind NYCFC, an idea which has not been embraced with enthusiasm by (a) existing NY fans who support the Red Bulls and (b) DC (and, to a lesser extent, New England) fans who have been wondering why similar efforts haven't been made for their stadium, seeing as how they already exist and all?
Okay, that might be part of it. But...you know what, I'm not even going to pretend to understand where we are with the DC United stadium at this point. However, I also don't understand at this point how the commissioner is going to help. It's possible that Garber could have charmed the Nationals like he did the Yankees, and directed Manchester City's attentions toward the Potomac...but that's a pretty serious counterfactual. I think that local stadium politics should, for the most part, stay local. I think that's the general tenor of DC politics, especially after having dealt with the kind of tools that have traditionally abused the DC sports scene.
And I also think that if the DC United ownership had wanted Garber to be more visible, then Garber would not have chosen to deliver his round table "State of the League" on the same afternoon as a DC City Council vote on the stadium. I hate to keep harping on this, but yes. You and I might not agree with the conclusions that MLS owners and officials make. That doesn't mean we should assume our arguments weren't considered, let alone that they didn't cross their minds. The DC United/Buzzard Point effort seems to be extremely local, and I can't think of one reason why that's a poor idea, either as politics or policy. It's worked so far.
Well...give or take twenty years.
I was going to say that Garber should have been asked if NYCFC, Miami, and LAFC are prepared to wait twenty years for their own stadiums, but we wouldn't have gotten a very straight answer on that, either. Every stadium is its own separate and local skirmish. I *think* yet another Los Angeles sports stadium is doomed to fail. I *think* that the Yankees and Manchester City are going to face a political morass that makes Washington look like Mayberry. I *think* Miami real estate isn't going to suddenly be plentiful and easy to build on. And I *think* that MLS hoping to succeed where the NFL failed (in the cases of Los Angeles and New York City) is highly optimistic.
But I'm not paid to think, am I?
If I were, I'd go to Major League Soccer Soccer dot com, slide my mouse over "other," note that NYCFC, Orlando and Atlanta(?!) are still listed as future teams, while Miami has slid into the Bermuda Triangle.
There was plenty of other news, of course. Long-time BigSoccer enemy Duane Rollins put the case succinctly:
(EDIT - in case you can't read Duane's tweet, he did some math and wondered aloud how the league is spending something in the neighborhood north of $450 million, which, you know, is not exactly a neighborhood where you find pawn shops and payday loan centers)
Cynical, untrusting souls immediately assumed that Don Garber is at best engaging in some creative accounting, at worst actively misleading the public. Since the $100 million number has been put out there AFTER at least three expansion teams have been scheduled before 2017, but BEFORE an imminent collective bargaining agreement negotiation, I tend to agree with those who believe Mr. Garber should invest in some asbestos boxers.
Unfortunately, we will have plenty of leisure to talk about labor strife in MLS in the coming months. For now, I will stand by my prediction that there will be no strike, no lockout, a significant rise in salary cap as a sop to compensate for the lack of free agency, and the 2015 season will proceed as currently not scheduled.
Wait, what? How hard can it be to schedule games for Yankee Stadium?