Has MLS set the bar too high for expansion?

Discussion in 'MLS: Expansion' started by anderson, Sep 5, 2002.

  1. anderson

    anderson Member+

    Feb 28, 2002
    Club:
    Houston Dynamo
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Assuming that single-entity isn't going away anytime soon, and regardless of which market may be comparatively better or worse, is MLS currently demanding too much from a potential investor or stadium situation? (There are plenty of threads about expansion to specific towns - not trying to start another here. I’m also not trying to a re-open a debate about single-entity, although that may be inevitable.)

    Here are the current MLS investor and stadium expansion issues, as I understand them:

    Owners

    No one wants to see snake-oil salesmen ruining the sport’s or the league’s credibility even further. It’s no good to have teams pop up one season, last for one or two seasons, and then fold or move. Very bad magic. But does MLS really need to be as exclusive as it appears to be?

    If MLS demands around $20 million to join the club, no one will put up that kind of cash in the foreseeable future. Even asking for $5-10 million seems like too much. The league’s losing money and they're asking otherwise sensible business people to risk a huge chunk of cash on something that's never had much success as a business in this country.

    Stadiums

    No one wants to see MLS playing on baseball diamonds or astroturf. Atmosphere for even 15-20,000 people in a cavernous NFL stadium isn’t great. The field looks bad with football markings. Leases with poor terms regarding revenue streams aren’t going to work financially. And we need to have more control over scheduling. All true enough - but are SSS’s really the only alternative to a ludicrous lease? And what makes us think we can hold out for only a stadium situation that addresses all of these issues - why not just focus on the financial terms of the lease for now?

    The league is asking people to put up at least $20-30 million for an investment in what can reasonably only be viewed as part of a high-risk business venture. I think everyone agrees that SSS’s would be best, but it’s too much to ask of an investor or a community.

    Alternatives?

    Owners

    If an NFL owner (see the thread in this forum discussing NFL ownership of MLS clubs) would want to put an MLS team in his stadium (leaving aside the stadium question for just a moment), he shouldn't be required to come up with a big fee. Is anyone really worried about an MLS club operated by an NFL owner folding or moving so long as the it helps him fill a few home dates during the NFL off-season?

    Should business people with experience running either a soccer or a sports marketing business be turned away because they can’t come up with several million for an expansion fee? If the owners of an A-League team or a minor-league hockey team can come up with a good business plan that addresses cash-flow issues for an MLS club in their market, why should they be required to come up with even $5 million just to join?

    Stadiums

    The thread in this forum on NFL owners with MLS clubs in NFL stadiums speaks for itself. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s financially feasible.

    Then there’s the option of playing in smaller, college or high school stadiums where they’re available. There may not be many of them, but Robertson Stadium (real grass, adequately wide field, 35,000 capacity) at UH in Houston can’t possibly be the only such stadium in the republic - or can it? Such stadiums don’t always have much revenue coming through them now (certainly Robertson doesn’t), so their owners may be very reasonable on lease terms (Lockhart’s school district owners certainly were).

    What about modular solutions? If Chicago can set up 10,000 bleacher seats in Naperville and Milwaukee can set up 7,000 seats in the A-League, why couldn't a MLS come up with 15,000 bleacher seats and about 75x120 yards' worth of grass on a college campus or somewhere within reasonable driving distance of population centers? Yeah, I know you also need infrastructure, but this isn't Afghanistan. We've got running water and phone lines all over the place. ;)


    I think MLS sets the bar too high. MLS doesn’t have a great business proposition to offer anyone. In holding out for perfect ownership and SSS's as necessary conditions for expansion, MLS may get no takers. Compromising some of the league’s ownership and stadium ideals in the short-term may at least ensure that the league has a long-term.


    Here's the "NFL stadiums, hear me out" thread to which I refer above: https://www.bigsoccer.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=11042
     
  2. Rocket

    Rocket Member

    Aug 29, 1999
    Chicago
    Club:
    Everton FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I certainly think MLS may have set the bar too high, particularly when it comes to stadiums.

    While an established, profitable league has the luxury of setting high requirements for prospective franchises, the main goal for a league like MLS should be that its expansion teams be profitable.

    Many pro sports franchises that have fine arenas/stadiums now started in much more humble settings.

    Here in Dallas, for instance, the Cowboys played their first 10 seasons in the Cotton Bowl before talking the city of Irving into building Texas Stadium for them.

    And the Texas Rangers spent 21 years in the former minor league park, Arlington Stadium, before getting the city of Arlington to build the Ballpark in Arlington for them.

    Realistically, MLS expansion teams should aim to get their start by sharing a football stadium with an NFL team, college, or school district. Then in 10 or 15 years time when their community's warmed up to them, they can hopefully sweettalk the city into helping them build their own SSS.
     
  3. Khansingh

    Khansingh New Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    The Luton Palace
    I think the difference with the Rangers is that no one at the time knew it was a dump. The Cowboys, and the NFL in general, weren't in any position to demand anything from the government. But you both raise an excellent point. Maybe if MLS agreed to drop the single entity for a new owner, someone would be willing to put up $20 million+. I think the league is following the NHL's example: expand only when the demand is palpable. They're probably wary of the public perception of soccer after the NASL's revolving door with clubs. They don't want to go down that road. They want stability, they want calm, they want boring. I'm reminded of those AIG commercials. "The Greatest Risk is Not Taking One."
     
  4. FootyMundo

    FootyMundo New Member

    Mar 1, 2001
    Minneapolis
    Patience. Many of us need more of it. This will be a long, slow road up the hill. IF (big if) OKC or Tulsa builds a stadium we'll have three new stadiums out of 11 teams. 2 out of 10 is hardly chopped liver. It takes time, a lot of it. The current owner operators understand this point.

    And not taking a risk? Even being associated with this league is a HUGE risk. And the idea of building stadiums makes it even more of one. They are looking for the ultimate risk takers. Hence the need for patience.
     
  5. jwinters

    jwinters New Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Brooklyn
    I think you guys are looking at this through the wrong end of the telescope. MLS has all the owners it needs. I mean, in the old model--one team per owner--you needed to round up warm bodies with cash if you wanted to add teams. In the many-teams-per-owner universe of MLS, what's stopping Phil and Lamar from just saying, we vote ourselves one new team apiece, how ya like them apples?

    Really, what's the difference between the current situation (one guy owns 6 teams, another ones 2, anouther owns one, and they split the tenth team) and a scenario in which one guy owns seven teams, another owns four, and Kraft still owns one? Why would this be intolerable?
     
  6. bright

    bright Member

    Dec 28, 2000
    Central District
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    It is better to have diversified investment than to have only a few investors. You have more investors investing less money each, so they aren't going to be risking as much. And there is less chance that one of them will pull out. Also, if one of them does pull out, it is not as big of a deal.

    There is also a limit on how much one investor can invest. Multiple investors increases the threshold for growth. If MLS wants to grow (pay their players more, build stadiums, attract advertising, etc), it needs more investors.

    - Paul

     
  7. anderson

    anderson Member+

    Feb 28, 2002
    Club:
    Houston Dynamo
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Ok, you got me there. I admit to being impatient with the current MLS expansion model. :)

    It’ll take a long, long time to grow MLS if it insists on the $20 million investor plus SSS model. Fair enough. But it’s also fair to ask whether that’s the only reasonable model. MLS seems to be posing a false dichotomy: either (1) $20 million expansion fees plus SSS or (2) fly-by-night owners and teams playing on baseball diamonds or hs astroturf football stadiums that move or fold every other season. Many of us, as impatient as we may be, also think that there may be more than one reasonable way to grow MLS. We may be impatient, but that doesn’t mean that MLS isn’t also presenting a false dichotomy.

    The fundamental question is why insist on the current MLS expansion model. Why take only such a long, long, loooooooooong view? Why not compromise reasonably on a few investor and stadium requirements so that MLS can grow sooner?

    That’s a good point - under the current MLS expansion model. But why should MLS insist on an expansion model that requires only the ultimate risk takers as investors? Why not pursue another model that actually mitigates some of the risks for potential investors? Sensible business people seek to minimize risk, not maximize it. The soccer business is a high-risk business any way you slice it, but the MLS expansion model seems to maximize, rather than minimize, the risks for new investors.

    We would love them apples. ;) But we don’t see them apples because that doesn’t address the stadium piece of the puzzle. Why don’t they put a few more teams (regardless of who owns them) in reasonable stadiums that aren’t SSS’s? I don’t blame Phil and Lamar for not wanting to dish out another $30 million for a new SSS for each new team. If they insist on $30 million SSS’s for each new team (regardless of who owns the team), then it makes sense that they don‘t start new teams. But that’s not the only model, is it?

    I don’t think that three owners, or even one owner, is an inherently intolerable thing (but as Paul points out above, it may not be the most sensible thing). I think the main problem is with having too few teams, not too few owners.
     
  8. Sachin

    Sachin New Member

    Jan 14, 2000
    La Norte
    Club:
    DC United
    It's my belief that part of the reason why the bar is set so high is to attract investors who are willing to stick with a money-losing operation for a few years.

    Sachin
     
  9. VioletCrown

    VioletCrown Member

    FC Dallas
    United States
    Aug 30, 2000
    Austin, Texas
    Club:
    Austin Aztex
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The thing is... in just another month or so, MLS will have seven years in the history books. Next year will be 8 years. So you are probably completely right in your assessment. That it'll take ten years for communities to believe the league'll be around. The surprising thing is... it's now not that much longer. Having the NTC finished will be a touch more solidity.

    If (keep crossing those fingers) Harrison can happen, then having three stadiums will be a huge boost towards any other teams getting stadiums. If Harrison finally clears the legislature in a few weeks, it'll be finished right around that ten-year mark.

    In other words, I guess I agree with you... It's late. I should just go to bed...
     
  10. diablodelsol

    diablodelsol Member+

    Jan 10, 2001
    North Ridgeville, OH
    ding,ding, ding, ding...we have a winner.
     
  11. anderson

    anderson Member+

    Feb 28, 2002
    Club:
    Houston Dynamo
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    That makes perfect sense if you accept the alternatives that MLS suggests (i.e., either snake-oil salesmen and astroturf hs stadiums or billionaire soccer-lovers and SSS's) as the only alternatives. But why is that not a false dichotomy?

    A pro soccer league is a high-risk business, but the MLS expansion model ratchets up the risk level by setting unreasonably high barriers to entry. Sensible business people - who take reasonable risks for a living - can only conclude that these entry barriers make the total risk levels unreasonable.

    Investors must have an extraordinarily high level of risk tolerance when MLS sets extraordinarily high barriers to entry - $30+ million for a SSS (plus $20 million to join the club if you're not already in). This expansion model can attract only the ultimate risk takers, as FootyMundo calls them above.

    Why not try a model that minimizes the amount of money that an investor could lose - one of the less financially-demanding alternatives suggested above?
     
  12. SeattleFan

    SeattleFan New Member

    Mar 4, 2000
    Redmond, WA USA
    Since new investors buy into the league as a whole, and could participate in any profit that may one day come, why should the current investors let a newcomer in cheaply? They have a lot of capital tied up in the league; a new investor would need to contribute a lot in order to be entitled to an equal share of the profit. The spin-off of SUM may have been, in part, to lower the bar for team I/Os.

    The league needs to be sure that any expansion team is not a drain on the league coffers. That means that they need a sensible stadium situation where there is a potential for profit with 10,000+ attendance. If that's an NFL stadium with a reasonable rent or a SSS shouldn't matter too much to the current investors.

    20 M$ is the accepted figure for a buy-in to the league, but that number comes from the '98 expansion. Does anyone know for sure that it's still at that figure? BTW, some time back there was some notion that a team coming in with a SSS would get a discount on the franchise fee.
     
  13. bunge

    bunge BigSoccer Supporter

    Oct 24, 2000
    Also, I've heard that the $20 Million figure might be lessened if the money goes towards a SSS. That's not insider info, but I kind of remember reading that in an article sometime ago. So, if an investor is willing to plunk down $40 Million for a stadium, the $20 Million figure might be dropped or just considered part of the $40 Million investment.
     
  14. Stan Collins

    Stan Collins Member+

    Feb 26, 1999
    Silver Spring, MD
    ... which is exactly what we want. We want the penalty for failure to be severe enough that people don't undertake the whole operation on a whim, they way they did in the NASL days.
    Soccer is a risk, and in that light, this is exactly the type of investor we want.
    "Moral hazard." The bigger a safety net you have, the more likely you are to use it.

    New investors aren't the only ones taking risks, here. The old investor group takes a risk allowing new franchises in. That relatively steep expansion fee is designed to compensate for that risk, and the SSS type requirements are designed to mitigate it. You're probably right that this discourages new investment, but once new investor got in, he'd likely be very happy that these conditions were enforced upon others.

    Most of this becomes clear once we start seeing expansion as a means to and end that it is, rather than the end itself.
     
  15. anderson

    anderson Member+

    Feb 28, 2002
    Club:
    Houston Dynamo
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    No one wants whimsical investors, but I think that’s the false dichotomy that’s too easily accepted in this discussion. I acknowledge that it’s entirely possible that there are simply no other sensible business people in the country who (1) control stadium leases and/or have experience running a successful sports business and (2) are capable of developing and executing a reasonable business plan for an MLS club. It’s possible, but unlikely. I just don’t see why we should accept that it’s either whimsical, fly-by-night investors or billionaire ultimate risk-takers.

    I think the question is how big a safety net is appropriate - what’s the appropriate risk level? The current MLS expansion model is an extreme answer to that question - it maximizes the risks. We don’t have to set the risk levels so low that snake-oil salesmen come slithering in, but do we really have to set the risk levels so high? Do we really think there isn’t a more sensible approach that reduces risk to a level that reasonable business people would find more acceptable?

    If it’s the case that the expansion fee can be reduced significantly in the event that an investor brings along a SSS, then that certainly seems more reasonable. I’m suggesting that the expansion fee should be eliminated or varied at lower levels if the investor brings a SSS, an NFL or other stadium in which he controls the lease, or a similar stadium situation that’s part of a sensible business plan.

    Let’s assume that the current investors are reasonable business people who make rational decisions. Even assuming fair error in decision-making, we can probably count on Phil and Lamar to keep out potential investors with poorly developed business plans, unsuccessful records as managers of sports business, and whimsical fly-by-night types. They can safely exercise that sort of judgment without the current excessively-high entry barriers.

    I agree that SSS’s significantly mitigate risk to the current investor group. But you also mitigate risk through a good business plan executed by competent management. If an NFL owner brings along his stadium lease, why doesn’t that mitigate risk sufficiently? If a long-term ownership group in the A-League, or even minor league hockey, comes along with a record of sports management success and a good business plan for an MLS team, why doesn’t that mitigate risk sufficiently? Obviously, it’s a case-by-case decision-making process, but there’s more than one way to mitigate risk. And taking the risk mitigation strategy that most reduces the chances of expansion seems unnecessary.

    I suspect you have a very good argument here... ;)

    ...so, what end does the current MLS expansion model serve that would also not be served by a more moderate set of requirements? (Assuming, of course, that the false dichotomy that I outline above is indeed a false dichotomy. If it's not, then why isn't it?)
     
  16. jwinters

    jwinters New Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Brooklyn
    One thing about setting the bar so high is that you can turn down people you don't want in your club without saying no.

    The importance of this is, if you don't tell someone no, they can't turn around and sue you for that. One can imagine some Lionel Hutz-ish lawyer trying to get a piece of the Anschutz pie this way.

    And really, after the dot-com bonanza where anyone with a Powerpoint presentation could get millions of dollars to blow, do we really want to see MLS franchises given to undercapitalized investors that seemed to have their act together on paper? While I love the romantic let-a-thousand-flowers-bloom approach of letting anyone with a green field and a dream start at the bottom and work their team up to the big time, that's not what we got.

    Probably a good thing, too.
     
  17. Sachin

    Sachin New Member

    Jan 14, 2000
    La Norte
    Club:
    DC United
    Here's what's wrong with your your "false choice": A business plan is NO SUBSTITUTE for money. While tons and tons of money is a substitute for a business plan (not a good one mind you). If you don't have piles of money AND a solid business plan, MLS isn't interested.

    Sachin
     
  18. anderson

    anderson Member+

    Feb 28, 2002
    Club:
    Houston Dynamo
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    All good points, but I’m not suggesting that Phil and Lamar should let just any business person into their club who shows up with a good plan and professes a sincere love for the beautiful game. MLS can compromise on the expansion fee and SSS requirements without opening the floodgates to every romantic with a business plan and a dream.

    If Apoo, the savvy owner of a thriving local business in Springfield, rides up to Uncle Phil’s ranch with a very good business plan for an expansion Springfield Slushees for MLS, someone may need to explain to him why MLS only wants investor groups with long-term sports management experience and a record of success in the pro sports business - and probably a little more capitalization than the Quickie-Mart.

    Even if Monty Burns, who owns the Springfield Atoms football team and controls Springfield Stadium, corners Lamar at the country club and shows him the unquestionably brilliant business plan that Smithers devised for an expansion Springfield Wednesday Athletic Foot-Ball Club for MLS, someone may need to explain to him why MLS only wants investor groups who agree with the single-entity model and are willing to play by all the other MLS operating rules.
    Hmmm. There are definitely sketchy lawyers who make a living threatening to file annoying and somewhat dubious claims that they'll gladly abandon in exchange for an amount that’s much less than the legal fees that you would incur to get the claimed dismissed in court. But I’m not sure that would work in this situation. MLS has salaried, in-house counsel who could handle this sort of matter with a few hours' work. I used to make a living as a corporate lawyer and I’m pretty confident that I could’ve dealt with this sort of claim in less than a day’s worth of billable hours - plus research and expenses, of course. ;)
    Yes, presumably, MLS only wants you if you have a good business plan and a pile of money. And by “a pile” of money, I assume we mean enough for a $30+ million SSS, plus a few million, although perhaps not as much as $20 million, for some sort of expansion fee. I’m not questioning whether that’s a true statement. I think we all agree that MLS has probably set those requirements as part of their expansion policy.

    Where we may disagree is whether those requirements ought to be part of the policy, not whether they are in fact part of the policy. If we conclude that they ought not or need not be part of the policy, then we have a false dichotomy.

    Assuming that a potential investor group with good sports management credentials, as described elsewhere in this thread (e.g., NFL owner, long-term A-League or minor-league sports ownership group with record of success), brings a sensible business plan that includes a stadium situation, as described elsewhere in this thread (e.g., NFL stadium like Reliant, college stadium like Robertson, hs stadium like Lockhart, etc.), and agrees to play by the single-entity and all other MLS rules, I think it makes no sense for MLS to turn them away only because they won’t build a SSS and/or come up with a few (perhaps up to 20) million for an expansion fee.

    Reasonable people differ all the time about all sorts of things, but it seems unreasonable to me, given what MLS has to offer anyone, for MLS to set such a policy when more flexible expansion policies may also achieve the league’s long-term goals.
     
  19. Stan Collins

    Stan Collins Member+

    Feb 26, 1999
    Silver Spring, MD
    anderson,

    one thing I would point out is that even if you can control who you let in as far as ownership without significant statutory barriers, once you let them in, you're giving them a slice of the business, and hence a vote. So you would have to worry about who they decide to vote to let in.

    But that said, if we're supposing that an SSS is an absolute requirement, we're probably supposing wrong. I'd guess if Paul Allen said "I want n MLS team, I can pay full price for it, and I want them in Seahawks Stadium," I feel certain MLS would give him a good listen. (This based, among other things, on MLS's promises that took place when that facility was built).

    I would suspect MLS would not turn away any Revs-like or Wizards-like situation. And even if the owner of the facility did *not* match the owner of the team, MLS might still look favorably on the situation if the lease terms were favorable enough.

    So the two stated criteria of:
    1) Long-term committed ownership and
    2) A good stadium situation

    Needn't be applied so narrowly, and probably isn't. Enough of one probably makes up for a little of the other.
     
  20. anderson

    anderson Member+

    Feb 28, 2002
    Club:
    Houston Dynamo
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Stan, you're right - if MLS turns out to be as flexible as you suggest about their expansion requirements, then my assumptions are wrong. I'd love to be wrong in this case. We’ll see how expansion unfolds over the next few years. If there any new investors at all, it’ll probably be because MLS has compromised on the stadium and expansion fee requirements.

    I'm curious about how MLS responds if Allen or McNair says "I want to put a team in my stadium and play by your rules, but I don't want to give you a full-price, or even half-price, expansion fee." Given the parties' relative bargaining positions, I'm not sure why Allen or McNair should agree to full-price.

    As to voting power for new investors, that’s a really interesting point. I hadn’t thought about that issue, but it can turn out to be critical. IIRC, MLS is an LLC (limited liability company). For purposes of our expansion discussion, the significance of MLS being an LLC is that it's governed by an LLC agreement that allows for varying voting and economic rights among the members (i.e., the investors). The LLC organizational form therefore gives MLS a great deal of flexibility in dealing with new investors.

    For example, the LLC agreement can specify that a member (or class of members) has different economic rights in relation to allocation of profits and losses, as well as amounts and timing of cash calls. It can also specify different voting rights for different members (or class of members) regarding various matters. The LLC agreement can also place restrictions on transfers of LLC units (i.e., the “shares" or "interests” in the LLC) and on the admission of new members. So, Phil and Lamar can have very different economic and voting rights than the new investors.

    Of course, if you’re, say, an NFL owner who controls a shiney new stadium, you’re probably in a relatively strong negotiating position and you may not want to accept the restrictions that Phil and Lamar may offer you in the LLC agreement. Be that as it may, the LLC form at least gives MLS a lot of options to put on the table. Even more reason why it probably makes little sense for the current investors to insist on high entry barriers. They can also mitigate their own risks though the LLC agreement.
     
  21. Laramie4OKC

    Laramie4OKC New Member

    Jul 25, 2002
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Is the bar set to high?

    I wouldn't say that the bar is set to high; obviously it's more of a problem of finding the right combination of investors and markets willing to invest in a facility.

    A city like Louisville could easily convert old abandoned 33,500-seat

    Cardinal Stadium left:
    http://www.minorleagueballparks.com/card_ky.html

    Cardinal Stadium right:
    http://users.aol.com/charliezeb/stadiums/cardinal.htm

    into a soccer specific stadium.

    Once home to the Louisville Redbirds and the current Riverbats who now play in the new Slugger Field and the Univeristy of Louisville (football) Cardinals who now play in the new 45,000-seat Pappa John Cardinal Stadium.

    How much interest is there in Louisville for soccer outside of basketball and baseball? If you promote MLS in a city like Louisville it could be converted--the fan base is there. These people are still healing from lost opportunities to land the Grizzlies and the Hornets.

    People said that Raleigh would never support a National Hockey League franchise; but what's happening in Raleigh where basketball and hockey co-exists in the same building.

    Your big market investors are taking risks, because they need a share of the local media market to make it go.

    MLS is not going to expand to quickly and you certainly don't want to set the bar any lower because you would then see this league self-destruct.
     
  22. jwinters

    jwinters New Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Brooklyn
    Funny. I'd say the most flexible requirement would be the stadium, not the cash.

    I mean, a team can have fairly good success in an NFL stadium and can always move to smaller, purpose-built facility. Like Columbus did and LA is doing. After a couple years, MLS gets the stadium it wanted anyway.

    You forego the cash payment and you're never getting that back. For a league in which $30 million covers nearly two years worth of player costs, the cash is a big deal.

    I know, I know. It's BigSoccer heresy to suggest that cash ought to outweigh the charms of a [insert glowing adjectives] stadium, but if I were Phil and Lamar and was just now seeing my investment on a glide path to profitability, I'm not sure I'd what to let someone else get a slice of the profits on the cheap.

    And besides, who says Allen and McNair have Anschutz and Hunt over a barrel? They need additional programming for their stadiums as much as MLS needs additional teams or investors.
     
  23. USRufnex

    USRufnex Red Card

    Tulsa Athletic / Sheffield United
    United States
    Jul 15, 2000
    Tulsa, OK
    Club:
    --other--
    I think the idea that MLS have high standards for owners/investors is a good idea... even a good owner with some $$$ may run out of patience after a few years of losing $$$ in a league that's losing $$$. Afterwards, the investor sells team to new O/I to keep the team in town-- an owner who may not give a flip about long term solutions and the like.

    I think the problem with MLS has been the degree of financial committment they are asking for in a league that's only a few years old and is still searching for fans and identity.

    I see evidence that this is changing/has already changed.

    Lamar Hunt seemed to be of the opinion that a soccer stadium with the right capacity is more important than O/Is (Tulsa World interview)... of course, Hunt just happens to have a construction company that would be more than happy to build that stadium...

    It's like seeing a new bar open in the neighborhood with a $10 cover chg... this may be one way to keep undesireables out ... but if the bar's losing business and failing to attract new customers then maybe it's time to lower that charge...

    After all, the mighty New York Cosmos, once owned by Warner Bros., failed to get a franchise playing indoors at the MISL due to new owner Giorgio Chinaglia's inability to pay the $100,000 franchise fee in '85.

    Even if you adjust for inflation, that fee is a paltry sum compared to the millions and millions of $$$ asked for by MLS... "oh, and by the way, did we mention that you're gonna need to build us a stadium?" ... "oh, and did we mention if YOU break even, you'll still need to bankroll the other teams in the league to the tune of another couple of million bucks a year."

    Even for potential investors who may be thinking long term and have a deep committment to soccer in general and relatively deep pockets, those losses are a big reason to step back and wait... which explains why the league hasn't expanded... in fact it's contracted to the same # of teams it started with 7 years ago.

    MLS is simply not strong enough to ask for the moon. This league has been threatening to expand for years... yet the devil has always been in the overly expensive details-- and, surprise... the year of the push for expansion keeps getting... well... PUSHED...

    They're going to have to be flexible if they want to "grow" the league. One city may have most of the ingredients. Another city may have a completely different set of problems.

    Even the investor with HUGE $$$ can lose interest in a situation like this...

    C'mon MLS... can't make an omelet without breakin' a few eggs...
     
  24. USRufnex

    USRufnex Red Card

    Tulsa Athletic / Sheffield United
    United States
    Jul 15, 2000
    Tulsa, OK
    Club:
    --other--
    Don't expect me to believe you "love" the above approach... you seem to want nothing short of GUARANTEED SUCCESS! Nothing in life is guaranteed...

    But that's NOT my point... it is not a problem to have high standards and ask for long term commitments... it's the DEGREE...

    And I'm sure Garber's sick of hearing the same chorus of "You don't bring me flowers" from his owners/constituency...
     
  25. Fanaddict

    Fanaddict Member+

    Mar 9, 2000
    streamwood IL USA
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    You need a decent place to play, a market that can reasonably be expected to support soccer and an investor who has enough money not to fold the team after a few years of losses. That should be the minimum requirements not to put up 25 million dollars just to keep up appearances.
     

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