San Antonio--The Final Post-Mortem

Discussion in 'MLS: Expansion' started by Stan Collins, Jun 28, 2005.

  1. Stan Collins

    Stan Collins Member+

    Feb 26, 1999
    Silver Spring, MD
    https://www.bigsoccer.com/forum/showthread.php?t=210910
    (And the Biz Journal aricle it cited, at
    http://www.bizjournals.com/sanantonio/stories/2005/06/20/story4.html?from_rss=1)

    From the above thread, the MLS effort in San Antonio got 1,500 season tickets without ever mounting a serious campaign, with political controversy surrounding it from the get-go, and with universal bad press.

    That bad press was a bit of a case of taking two to tango--the AlamoDome deal did include an ingredient of something for nothing. (Did MLS really increase the naming rights value of that venue three-fold, which is what it would have taken to make 30% of post-MLS more than the 100% they could have gotten any time before now? With the Dome hosting the occasional legitimate nation-wide event liket he NCAA Final Four, I'm deeply inclined to doubt it).

    But I think the above figure, plus the fact that the majority of the city council approved two versions of the deal by large majorities, is an indicator that a lot of folks who didn't yell the loudest thought that this thing could have worked.

    I think so too. The MLS city it reminds me of most is Salt Lake City. An underserved sports marketplace and region (counting Austin, it's 3+ Million people with only one major pro sports team).

    And I agree with one of the contentions in the Biz Journal article, that it was by reaching for too much that they came away with nothing--the gambler's fallacy. If they'd modified the naming rights proposal (perhaps split it 50/50, or even reversed the ratios of who got the 70% versus 30%), went with the second funding package ($2M instead of $6M), and approved a token surcharge (my suggestion at the time was $0.25 a ticket up to 10,000), San Antonians wouldn't have felt like they were giving it away, and the main lines of profitability would not have changed.

    Further, if they'd waited a while (say six months after the first game), established themselves in the market with surprising attendance (every MLS franchise has suprised the media and political establishment with how well it's drawn at first) and struck at the right moment, they'd probably have gottentheir practice facility/youth field complex, too.

    But as it stands, I think Garza, and Hunt (MLS's negotiator) were both a bit naive here. Garza in thinking the people would accept his obvious play for a legacy without him doing the work to sell his vision, and MLS for thinking that you could assure no opposition just by working the politicians (though seldom have I seen the case where the politicians were so firmly on one side of the issue and the media so firmly on the other).

    I hope MLS has learned something. Something other than to take parting shots at the cities where it doesn't work. (That must have felt good--it must also have been either un- or counter-productive). Something that might actually help us down the line.
     
  2. okcomputer

    okcomputer Member

    Jun 25, 2003
    dc
    I'm glad it didnt work. Who wants another Giants stadium in the league?
     
  3. Stan Collins

    Stan Collins Member+

    Feb 26, 1999
    Silver Spring, MD
    It wouldn't have been another Giants stadium. In the indoor stadium, they can black-tarp off the upper deck so much better that you'll forget it's even there (though it will reduce the noise factor some), leaving a lower deck that seats around 25k.

    And people get way, way too overwrought about FieldTurf. The reason the turf in GS and Rice-Eccles play like that is because the football teams want them to.
     
  4. superdave

    superdave BigSoccer Yellow Card

    Jul 14, 1999
    VB, VA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The Mutts pay rent. This wouldn't be another Giants Stadium.
     
  5. wufc

    wufc Member

    May 1, 2005
    UC Irvine
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I think one of the more valid complaints that San Antonians had was that they believed MLS would pay no Alamodome rent for a few years, then ask the city for cash to build an SSS. It's happened already to with the Spurs, who were given the Dome but a few years later, got the city to pay for a new arena. This is why I believe the original plan (last year) of just building an SSS would have gone over better than the Alamodome plan.
     
  6. Stan Collins

    Stan Collins Member+

    Feb 26, 1999
    Silver Spring, MD
    Tangential, but soccer gets caught in politicis everywhere:

    http://www.sltrib.com/realsaltlake/ci_2830165
    (Didn't know that Rice-Eccles in SLC was still in debt. Interesting.)

    Anyway, to bring this around, I'd given Checketts some credit for moving his team first and asking for money later (and trusting his own salesmanship to get it done). You can see it makes a difference--people are still saying "let's see if it holds up", but it's a lot fewer of them, and they're being a whole hell of a lot more polite about it.

    But OTOH, as the above article shows, it's no guarantee about anything, you may end up in the worst-case scenario having to move (as KC or SJ might) and you get soaked (to the tune of 90% of concessions) in the interim.

    To follow wufc's comments, this is what you'd have to have done to get an SSS in SA. MLS is not developed enough--meaning not in the national political consciousness enough--to demand SSS help before it has proven itself in the market.

    Perhaps what could have been done in SA (or what could be done now in some other town) is to pay medium-scale 'rent' (as in more than the $50k a year that's paid for the land in Columbus but less than the over $1M a year DC pays for RFK)--but have that go into a locked fund that is reimbursable to the team if a) it channels the funding into an SSS and b) it stays in the Dome (or current facility) 10 years or more first.
     
  7. Atouk

    Atouk BigSoccer Supporter

    DC United
    Apr 16, 2001
    Arlington, VA
    Club:
    Queens Park Rangers FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Don't negotiate with a mayor in his last 15 minutes in office without locking up the support of his successor?
     
  8. Stan Collins

    Stan Collins Member+

    Feb 26, 1999
    Silver Spring, MD
    Maybe "don't do it at all" would work.

    MLS had as much assurance as you could ever reasonably expect that Julian Castro--who was leading in the polls at the time--was in support.
     
  9. Sachsen

    Sachsen Member+

    Aug 8, 2003
    Broken Arrow, Okla.
    Club:
    Sporting Kansas City
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Never mind the mayor OR his successor... lock up the support of an OWNER.

    If San Antonio had Checketts or Vergara, San Antonio would be in MLS.
     

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