Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Real Salt Lake = Real St. Louis?

Well, this will be yet another reminder for Garber & Co. to ensure that any new club that joins MLS must have a Soccer Specific Stadium approved and already under construction. Real Salt Lake’s SSS has just been torpedoed by the Mayor of Salt Lake County, calling the proposed $30 million dollar investment in the stadium infrastructure an “unsafe investment.” Current owner, Dave Checketts has said that he might sell the club, but nothing major will happen at least during the 2007 season. Moving is an option along with a sale.

I still find it funny that this is a shock to anyone. Checketts had been running into brick wall after brick wall in his attempts at getting a stadium. I honestly see only two outcomes from this SNAFU: either the club will be moved or the club will be contracted. The biggest factor would be if Checketts retains ownership of the club or not.

If Checketts retains ownership, expect him to move the club to either St. Louis or to Seattle. St. Louis is the more logical location, as he owns the St. Louis Blues NHL team and there is a stadium plan already in the works outside of the city, one that has local government support. Seattle is another option, but one that is less likely as there is no stadium truly available and none in the works.

If there is contraction, which will lead to another surplus of available, seasoned players for the rest of the league. As MLS is planning to add their 14th club in the 2008 season, I can see Garber doing almost everything possible to retain the RSL club, which wills most likely lead to them moving and getting rebranded. I think that Garber & Co. will be less likely to allow for contraction as they were when the two Florida clubs ended up folding. This makes me feel that we will see RSL move to St. Louis next season, have Kansas City (who is currently homeless and could be facing a relocation/rebranding as well) or Chicago get moved back to the West. If St. Louis is the city that RSL relocates to, that would leave Cleveland, San Jose and Philadelphia as the primary front runners for the 14th expansion slot. Everyone should expect Garber & Co. to lobby hard for San Jose to return, which would help balance out the league and the conferences.

Now if we consider that Checketts has stated that he is uncertain if he will retain ownership of the club, this could be the perfect option for San Jose to return to the league. Think of it: The Lewis Wolff and John Fisher are currently working to bring the Earthquakes back and they are working on a deal for a new SSS in San Jose which would be ready by the 2009 season. They could buy RSL from Checketts; move the club to San Jose for the 2008 season, which they would play in Spartan Stadium. The 2009 season would see the opening of the new stadium and have the Earthquakes move into their new home.

If this did happen, we would still see the West composed of six clubs and in the 2008 expansion, we would see Cleveland join the league and see Kansas City move to the Western Conference. This would also hinge on whether or not Kansas City remains in Kansas City, but that is another can of worms that we can open later.



Blogger The Iconic Midwesterner said...

Great minds thinking alike?

I swear I didn't read your post until just after I posted my own headline. :-)

11:38 PM  

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