Revolution such a success at old stadium, they clearly need a new one

The New England Revolution are in the MLS Cup and drawing well at Gillette Stadium, so naturally enough talk of a new soccer-only stadium has died down — no, wait, of course it hasn’t:

The Revolution soccer club is back in the MLS playoffs, has been drawing some of the biggest crowds in its 19-year history, and finally has a high-profile star in US national team member Jermaine Jones.

So how about that new stadium?

This is one of the weird … I guess “ironies” is the wrong word, but inconsistencies of the stadium game: When teams are doing poorly on the field and at the gate, the question is when they’ll get a new stadium to reverse their fortunes; when they’re doing well, the question is when they’ll get a new stadium to match their success. It’s a heads-I-win tails-you-lose argument that never seems to get noted by the news media, and certainly zooms right past Boston Globe reporter Callum Borchers.

Certainly, a new soccer-only stadium would be nice for the Revolution owners, and the Kraft family (which also owns the Patriots and Gillette Stadium) has been on record as wanting one for several years now. Yet as Holy Cross economist Victor Matheson told the Globe, the team’s success at their current stadium makes them less likely to want to kick in for a separate stadium of their own:

“The Krafts are already getting all the revenue streams, which is certainly why it’s been less urgent,” said Victor Matheson, a sports economist at the College of the Holy Cross and former MLS referee. “They need a substantially better location than they have now to make it worthwhile.”

After privately financing Gillette Stadium, the Krafts have not pledged to do the same for a soccer stadium that probably would cost more than $100 million.

So: The Revolution are doing well playing in a football stadium that they own, so the only thing that would make them move would be if somebody hands them land in a prime location and, probably, subsidies. That would seem to be the definition of not actually so much needing a new stadium, but far be it from me to question the logic of the Boston Globe — no, wait, of course it isn’t.


6 comments on “Revolution such a success at old stadium, they clearly need a new one

  1. I think the Pats have a deal like MSG, where the stadium sits on property tax-exempt land. I can’t see them moving unless they get a similar deal plus some free land.

    I have a feeling this was a story driven by the reporter, not the team. He probably is hoping for a new stadium, and the team rep willing to talk to him was just being nice

  2. Yeah, I am on the same page as Ben. My impression talking with Callum Borchers (the reporter) was that this was simply general interest story. The Revs are somewhat unique in MLS at this point in not having a soccer-specific stadium. However, they would really need a good deal (which would almost certainly include a hefty public subsidy) in order to make an investment in a new stadium financially worthwhile given the fact that they have their own football stadium free of charge right now.

    It is also probably only fair to mention that while the Krafts would certainly not turn down a public handout for a new MLS stadium, their NFL stadium is one of the only ones in the league built almost entirely with private money. In the stadium finance game, Bob Kraft is one of the good guys.

  3. Oh, I didn’t think there was any actual new news here, no. Just thought it kind of strange that the Globe decided to fill space with a “The Revolution are winning and selling tickets, where’s their stadium?” article rather than a “The Revolution are winning and selling tickets, guess a new stadium wasn’t that vital” article. (Not strange given the Globe, mind you, just strange given newspapers’ presumed interest in reporting the facts.)

    As for Kraft being a good guy, don’t forget that he did try (and succeed) in getting a buttload of money from Connecticut to move the Patriots there, before changing his mind. He ended up using mostly private money in Foxboro because he ultimately didn’t want to leave, and Tom Finneran wouldn’t let him touch the state treasury. Also, the Hartford gambit enabled him to get the NFL to let him create the G-3 fund, which was worth as much to him as any subsidies he was likely to get out of MA.

  4. “The Revolution soccer club is back in the MLS playoffs, has been drawing some of the biggest crowds in its 19-year history, and finally has a high-profile star in US national team member Jermaine Jones.
    So how about that new stadium?”

    I think the world is mocking you, Neil.

  5. The Revs would most likely see increased revenues from larger crowds if they had a home in the city; the stadium is ideal for the Patriots but not so much for the Revolution. But, as noted, they have limited expenses now so a new stadium would greatly increase costs and expenses, likely obliterating any economic benefit from a new stadium. Unless someone else pays for it.

    I wish the Revs had a new home, much closer to Boston – the crowds could be fantastic. But not if tax dollars have to pay for it.

  6. Considering Boston’s famous inability to replace or build nearly any sporting edifice (including the laughable “Boston Olympics 2024/26 campaign”), the chances are remote that public money will be used to build any soccer stadium. Boston won’t do it, and the suburbs are either too small or too poor to afford subsidies. By the time you find a suburb that might do it, you’re practically in Foxborough.

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