Wednesday, August 02, 2006

MLS Moving another Club?

In an earlier posting, I referenced that Garber & Co love to use the All Star Game and the MLS Cup as their launching pads for announcing new developments in the league. Earlier this week it was announced that MLS/SUM had reached a new TV broadcasting deal with FSC/ESPN-ABC/Univision/HDNET, which was different that the ideas I had, but it still included a type expansion of the weekly broadcasts in a spirit that I was thinking of.

Another idea that might be coming to fruition is the possible relocation of yet another MLS club, the Kansas City Wizards. The Wizards are facing the realization that Arrowhead Stadium will begin to undergo a major renovation next NFL off-season and would make the stadium completely unavailable for 2 MLS seasons. Without a Soccer Specific Stadium (SSS) deal in place by October of 2006, Lamar Hunt (yup the guy who has a Trophy named after him) would consider selling off the club to an outside investor. MLS Boss, Garber is reported in the Kansas City Star as already warning the clubs players that they might want to start house hunting in the Philly area.

This would be a very interesting development for MLS. I think that on one hand, moving the club to Philadelphia would expose the club to a lot of things that Kansas City doesn't have. One thing is that it would expose it to a new fan base, one that would see it as a novelty and come out to see the first couple of matches. Another thing is that the location of Philly is excellent for regional travel between other MLS cities, specifically with NYC (RBNY) and Washington, D.C. (DC United). That type of proximity of the three clubs would offer MLS something that maybe only LA has been able to provide, a close nit travel distance that would lend itself to traveling support from club supporters that would normally not consider the trip. RBNY supporters and DC United supporters could actually consider the away matches in Philly as options. If Kansas City does get relocated to Philadelphia, I know that I will look at the DC United schedule and list both away matches in Philly as matches to attend. A three hour trip to Philly is nothing and I know that the Screaming Eagles/Barra Brava would have bus trips for them.

The bad thing about this possible relocation is that this again sets a bad stain on MLS. This will be the 4th failed city for MLS to have been in. This would also be the second straight season that a club had to be relocated due to logistical problems. I am really fearful for the type of message that this lends itself to for future clubs. I know that MLS has mandated that all future entry clubs must have a stadium plan already in place for that bid to be accepted, but what happens if the situation in Salt Lake creeps up? The plan was in place, then changes were made after the fact.

I also am worried about how MLS is just willing to move clubs so easily. If relocation is such an easy thing to do, why did the Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion FC fold? Why didn't they just relocate Miami to Houston then or Tampa Bay to Philadephia? I really do not know all the facts in either of these two cases, I just know that they were both in the league one season, and the next they were gone. Doing a quick check on Wikipedia and it just says that the clubs were contracted in 2001. It does mention that Real Madrid is considering establishing a club in Miami around 2010. Anyways, did MLS even think of relocation in 2001 or did they just contract? If they didn't, is relocation the new contraction? I digress.

The last reason I would have an issue with this is the current Wizards fans. They will be the ones who lose out the most. It would put a really bad taste in a lot of other club supporters mouths, based on the whole, "it happened there, could it happen here?"

I would love to see Philadelphia get an MLS club, because it would mean more regional competition with DC United and another close location to go on road trips. I would rather it be a new club, than yet another relocated club. Garber & Co. will probably make some type of announcement this Friday, so stay tuned.


Blogger The Manly Ferry said...

Mmm...fair, but not fair. The Kansas City market, whether it's been sound financially has always looked bad for the league; it draws badly, which only aggravates the issue with Arrowhead's immense size. The stadium issue also complicates gaining control of scheduling and any other issues (revenues, mainly) of not being a primary tenant. I don't know enough about the specific situation to know whether they've got something similar to what Kraft enjoys in New England, but what I've seen and read suggests otherwise.

As much as I feel for KC's fans, they're hardly the most visible supporters group; the most loyal, I would grant, especially given all circumstances.

Sometimes business is just business. It does suck, but I'd also say the league has given that market ample time to work out. And, so far it hasn't.

6:32 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Good and valid points. I pretty much wanted to cover the good and the bad of a move, not tryingto point fingers, I figured that when the move is announced, either MLS or the owners will do enough of that.

7:34 PM  
Blogger Nuruddeen710 said...

Hi Brian.

I have added your link.

Thank you

8:38 PM  
Blogger Midwestsurfer said...

Miami's owner had no one to sell the team to and if he couldn't get it to work in Miami he didn't care to try anywhere else.

Tampa had no owner and so the league was simply tired of running the team.

Whereas the owner of SJ (AEG) decided they wanted to move to Houston and the owner of KC (HSG) is just looking for a buyer, and while they wanted a local one, they are willing to accept one who will move the team if it comes to that.

Those are the big differences between 2002 contraction and 2005 relocation.

5:59 AM  

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