Friday roundup: Cincy stadiums still gobbling tax money, XFL to use old Rangers stadium, Crew stadium to require $50m+ in public cash

So very very much more stadium and arena news from this week:


33 comments on “Friday roundup: Cincy stadiums still gobbling tax money, XFL to use old Rangers stadium, Crew stadium to require $50m+ in public cash

  1. I think the Stl xfl situation is interesting it’s using the old Rams stadium, which I thought would have been demolished by now.

    • The rams stadium or whatever it is called is a convention center and the convention center has stated that it makes more money from conventions than the Rams games. I am curious as to XFL contract with the convention center, but frankly I have assumed that the conveyion center knows that the xfl won’t happen.

      • I find it impossible to believe that the convention center makes any significant money from the occasional convention that uses the stadium. Though “more than from Rams games” doesn’t mean “significant,” I suppose.

        • https://www.stlmag.com/news/sports/requiem-for-a-dome/

          Rams paid 20k per game and the game would prohibit the use of the stadium for conventions, therefore 30k would be significant plus people might actually come from out of town to go to a convention vs a rams game.

          Tractor pulls, concerts, the national St Louis RV Vacation And Travel Show and etc all can pay more then the Rams.

          I cant find the exact article that state this but I have gone over my limit on Stltoday with all of the Paul Goldschmidt coverage.

  2. Whelp, it appears that the long con has kicked in in Columbus. Probably the newly, dearly beloved again Crew will get some fancier digs. In a way I was happy that the team stayed, but I guess we all knew the grift was coming.

  3. If the XFL is going to play at the ballpark in Arlington, does this mean that most of the (4 down) football games now played at Frisco will be held there too?

    Or could FC Dallas abandon their HSG built basic stadium for swankier digs at Arlington? I know attendance has been an issue for the club, but don’t know if an upgraded stadium would help (it’s just no fun sitting on metal benches watching MLS on a 105deg day). It’s unlikely they would be happy sharing grounds with an XFL club for half their season I guess….

    On another note… what odds McMahon actually keeps his hands out of this edition of the XFL? Frankly, if he had left the football to the football guys and just done the marketing in 2000, his first league might still be operating. If the USFL had kept out you-know-who and his laughable antitrust play, and survived just two more seasons (which, despite over expansion and then sudden contraction, was not impossible) I think they could still be making a living on spring football too.

    • After Frisco just spent $40,000,000 in part to build a “Soccer Hall of Fame” bolted onto their stadium at the behest of Lamar Hunt, Inc, I doubt FCD is in the market for a new home at this time, although it would be funny to watch the Frisco City Council wet their collective pants over any such talk.

      • I should have remembered that bit, Gary, thanks. I seem to recall one D. Garber being amongst the first inductees…

        Still, the (similar sized) stadium in Canton on the grounds of the PRHoF doesn’t get used much either does it?

  4. Also in Friday news, this quote from Don Garber on MLS. Time to begin the selloff of talent and hope the expansion fees keep coming in!

    “We have this careful balance of how do you retain your stars and create consistency, which is consistent with the major leagues here in our country. We have a different dynamic in the global game. We have been buying for so long, and as we’ve gone through the analysis, it’s hard to justify that investment and the investment we have to make in player development. We’ve got to have something that turns this model around, or else it’s going to be unsustainable”

    • Yep. And at Garber’s halftime talk, he just said there’s no reason to stop at 28 franchises (just like there was no reason to stop at 20, 24, etc and will be no reason to stop at 32, 36 or 50).

      I’ve never seen three card monty played this well, so full credit to him…

  5. In other news, American Joshua Sargent scored on his first touch of the ball for Bremen last night in the German league. He’s 18 and not playing in MLS. Who are these stars that Garber has discussed developing and building stadiums for? Wayne Rooney?

    • To be fair, Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie are products of MLS academies, but it’s true that MLS still has a lot of catching up to do at the youth level.

      • I’ll bet that the Toledo Mud Hens produced a lot of great players too, but that doesn’t mean they are an AL team.

        It is hard to say you’re “major league” and hence need “major league facilities” if the best players are going to another league.

      • MLS is still seen as the superannuation league unfortunately. Bringing in fading European (or South American) stars, no matter what level of play they might still be capable of, does little to change that.

        In a league where you can farm the subsidy without fear of relegation, it’s hard to justify investment in youth programs. Vancouver has just sold Davies for significant money, but by and large youth academies cost more than they are worth for the majority of feeder leagues (which, while it has improved, MLS still is).

        Unless and until MLS becomes one of the highest paying in the world, it will continue to lose it’s stars to other leagues. Obviously, this is something that cannot happen under MLS present structure… and that may never change for all we know.

        This doesn’t make MLS any different than all but four or five leagues across the world. It’s just something fans of any second or third tier league have to accept if they want “local” professsional football.

        • The funny thing is, that is a bargain I’ll take. I like watching the best players in the world (on TV, in the Champions League), but it is so nice to watch the game live as well. After the World Cup, experience on TV, I was so ready to go see the Colorado Rapids live in person. That says something about the live experience… or my sanity.

          • I enjoy the live experience of MLS, but man, some of the play. I went to a game between the top two MLS teams this year (Atlanta and the Red Bulls), and it was like they’d only heard distant rumors about soccer strategy. I could tolerate that when I’d never seen European soccer, but now that that’s on TV all the time, the difference between the two is pretty glaring.

            I know half the point of MLS is to develop American players, but I wonder if it wouldn’t make sense to bring over some younger second-tier European players just to show American fans and players what, say, passing is.

          • Agreed, Tom. For those of us who grew up watching the old fourth division or even, gasp, non-league football, watching MLS is just another version of it.

            It doesn’t have to be the best players playing in the best league to be interesting. I don’t really understand why so many fans appear to not be interested in watching local football, baseball or soccer teams.

            The oft heard “because it has to be the best or I’m not interested” sounds really suspect when you are talking to Orioles, Mets or Marlins fans.

            Neil: Yes, agreed on the tactics and basic technical skills. There is literally nothing worse than watching professional athletes who can’t perform fundamental skills that all little leaguers (for example) learn on their first day of practice.

            Oh well, this is the sporting world we’ve created by insisting that the ability to hit home runs is more important than all other skills in the game.

            I wish Ted Williams was still around to be interviewed about the “shift” as the scourge of modern baseball… Both he and Boudreau saw it plenty.

          • That’s not something unique to the second tier leagues, though — pretty much all the European soccer leagues are dominated by a few teams, in part reinforced by the rich-get-richer effect of the Champions League and its revenues.

            Anyway, maybe Belgium is a better comp for the U.S.? Some decent players come out of there, but none of the local teams are top class.

          • It wasn’t even that long ago that players ex-MLS’ers like Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard were among the leading players at Premier League clubs. Either the “right player” isn’t coming through at these MLS franchises anymore, or the teams themselves just throw more money at them than the clubs in Europe are willing to offer. (Probably a bit of both, though I suspect it’s more of the former)

            Japan is probably a better comp in terms of the league’s trajectory: J League booted up around the same time as MLS, both gave opportunities for homegrown talent to thrive and be noticed early on, both have expanded in the 20+ years that they’ve been around. The way they’ve gone about expanding is obviously much different (J League now has three tiers, with promotion/relegation taking place between them), and J League/JFA are more keen to see their players go abroad than MLS/USSF — it certainly makes for an interesting comparison, given the relative newness of both setups

            (Personally, I think Japan’s path toward the upper echelon of the game vastly better-defined than America’s, if not altogether clearer as a whole)

        • @ Neil that MLS HAS invested in some lower-tier players from Europe (Bradley Wright Phillips is the Red Bulls’ star, and Johnny Russel at SKC come to mind). But more importantly I think, in the Americas, a lot of young South and Central Americans now see MLS as a significant ladder on their way up, whether to Europe, to Mexico, or wherever.

          As for the quality of play, it is, in fits and starts, improving. Still, as one would expect, it’s not as good as the highest-paid leagues in the world. Some supposed “world football fans” who scoff at MLS more generally piss me off though. These self-proclaimed “Arsenal die hards” who cheered for Thierry Henry for YEARS, in the same breath, would never never stoop so low as to go see the same Thierry Henry when he played for the Red Bulls, and they were in town, a few years back. I mean, come on.

          I have also noticed over the years how “everyone is an expert,” when it comes to the quality of play. No doubt MLS style of play is slower, more plodding, and more brutishly physical; and sure, it’s not so rare for me to be watching a game, and think to myself – “in the Europeans leagues the striker probably has the quality to finish that play;” or “very MLS-quality pass there,” in a derogatory sense. But I have watched MANY entertaining MLS matches, and MANY clumsy, rather stupid-looking European games too, that ground down to 0-0 ties with neither team looking particularly inspired or creative. Perhaps an emotional investment in seeing the outcome helps for me. IDK – I am skeptical of every Tom, Jane, and Morgan, who got into Manchester City four years ago when hating Man U became fun, all-of-a-sudden is well-versed in how European soccer is so much better, because that’s like the first thing you hear when you starting getting into the game.

          @ John Bladen: I agree that there is really nothing so terribly wrong with being a selling league. Fans in Brazil did not get heart palpitations when Neymar took his game to Europe. They saw it as a natural progression for a bona fide, world-class star. NO ONE was suggesting he should stick around with Santos. As someone who wants MLS, AND the national teams to do well, I want our brightest individuals playing in Europe, and I want an MLS that brings entertaining soccer here. We are probably not quite “there” yet, but the level of the game is getting closer here.

          I have mostly hate / occasionally like feelings for Don Garber. I THOUGHT a few years, with the way things were trending in Orlando, LA, and Minnesota, that PERHAPS MLS might be able to be a better citizen with regards to stadium grift . . . anyway those notions have since been dashed for obvious reasons.

          HOWEVER, the fact that Garber’s talk is now about turning to being a “selling league,” suggests that perhaps there is a shift in culture in MLS that bodes well for the future. Now the talk, one will notice, is NOT about how MLS will compete with EPL or La Liga by the early ’20s, which is great, because that shit was pie-in-the-sky, Trump-level delusional. Having a pro league in the US that was roughly on bar with the Dutch Eredivisie, or Portugal’s Primeira Liga, would HARDLY be such a bad thing for US soccer.

          • I don’t turn up my nose at MLS matches, and I went to a bunch of Red Bulls games when Henry was on them. I’d say the league could be very successful right now if it set its sights on being Portugal — but you have the two problems of U.S. fans not being used to rooting for what are in effect farm teams for the world-class leagues, and of the U.S. style of play not even being up to Portugal’s, even if much of the athleticism is.

            Not saying they can’t get around those issues, but it can be frustrating to watch how slow the process is.

          • There are plenty of games in European leagues (even the top five) that are pretty boring and poorly played. The sorting that we’ve seen in the Champions League affects those leagues too. Even if Berlin is a major city, their team isn’t–and its even harder for the smaller cities in big leagues, who survive from getting really young players (17-20) from feeder leagues and selling them on. That’s not a recipe for healthy competition.

            That said, unlike MLS those teams are generally paying their own freight on stadiums, and not demanding millions from municipalities in tax breaks, free land, and “development rights” to host the likes of retreads like Shaun Wright-Phillips.

            I personally have enjoyed my encounters with MLS, even if the prices are a little high for the talent. Even if you accept being a feeder league (and I see the logic) it doesn’t follow that every team in the league needs a brand new stadium (with “atmosphere” naturally) to play at that level. I’d say the current Columbus stadium meets the standards of well more than half of European soccer stadiums. Let’s just call a spade a spade.

          • Promotion and relegation isn’t a perfect system, but it does prevent a lot of the threatmongering that U.S. teams use to extract stadium cash. Do you really think that Columbus would be talking about building a new stadium if, when Precourt threatened to move the Crew, they could have said, “That’s okay, we’ll just start our own team and work our way back up to MLS in a couple of years?”

            (I mean, maybe they would have anyway, because of the power of money in U.S. politics. But having the threat in team owners’ back pockets definitely doesn’t help.)

          • The issue with the Portugal/Holland model is that these smaller leagues are actually made up of two kinds of teams:

            1. 1-3 “Super Teams” with the support, funding, and backing to regularly compete in the Champions League (getting more funding) and perhaps can reach the CL Quarterfinals. These teams will sell their best players to the Megateams (Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Man City) at premium prices and will buy the best league talent (or from traditional partners like Brazil) in return.

            2. Everyone else. Teams that recognize that they are not going to compete for the Championship. A few may have aspirations on a qualifying spot in Europe, but not regularly. At any rate, regardless of success these teams financially cannot maintain their playing staff and must sell players (assets) to maintain solvency and buy cheaper players from very small clubs overseas. Some will be annual candidates for relegation. Others are developing de-facto minor-league like relationships with Megateams to give talent a place to play.

            That is not a model that is generally of interest to sports fans in the US (when it looked like baseball was headed that way, MLB had to work to change it). Good young players want to go to teams where 1) they will learn the game in a professional way and 2) where their skills will be showcased for Megateams or league-champion caliber teams. MLS is designed like the NFL with some extra bennies to the big cities. Just being a “fun place to play” won’t cut it in the world market.

            If MLS teams were to start explicitly signing minor-league/player development deals (stronger than the NYCFC-Man City setup), that would probably undermine the status of the league even if the play might well be better.

        • I mean there aren’t a lot of people showing up for 4th or 5th tier leagues of any sport in the US really.

          And Global media has really changed how connected things are. I am sure professional soccer int he US will work on some level, not sure t is clear it is going to work on the level people are expecting when the level of play is so “meh”.

          You don’t need giant $250 million stadiums for beer league sports.

          • I think the English Championship is a realistic target for MLS. It’s a surprisingly open league as Financial Fair Play means that many teams relegated from the Premiership fall pretty hard. It’s not obviously a step up from MLS but in fact the technical skill level with less space and time on the ball is quite a bit higher.

            The “MLS 3.0” model of getting in young players from Latin America to sell on to Europe is good. Home-grown players will improve when they start to play the game seriously not at 12 or 13 years old but at 5 or 6, as elsewhere.

            Better football isn’t necessarily an “improved viewer experience” in itself – that comes from winning matches that matter. I see numerous regional leagues and national playoffs as one way towards that – if the quality isn’t the best in any case, wouldn’t people be more interested in Phillie-Trenton than Phillie-Colorado?

          • I’m not sure we are better off by being a society where people have to play soccer seriously at age 5.

          • @ Fiat Lux:

            Not sure if I read your comment correctly or not… I think the LC is very much a step up from MLS in level of play. Were you saying it isn’t or that the LC should be MLS’ long term goal?

            With respect to the quality of play, what fans want to see is good technical skills on display…. not 60 missed passes followed by one long lob that connects and results in a goal from a superannuated overseas striker.

            We could train our existing domestic players to pass better. Why we don’t invest money in that I’ll never understand… it is cheaper than airlifting in South American or European players and homegrown stars are more likely to stick around longer (unless they get tapped by a truly top level Euro club… at which point the money is impossible to resist).

            That said, the quality of play in MLS has improved dramatically over the last 20 years. At some point though, if we don’t start training our homegrown players to help develop their technical skills, this will become a league entirely made up of foreign players.

            I’m not against that from any sort of ‘immigration’ perspective, and that model works fine in many other (better) leagues… but I do wonder how America will accept an MLS that doesn’t feature more than a handful of top domestic players.

          • Can’t recall off the top of my head, but a typical MLS team in America only has about start about four USMNT-eligible players in its starting eleven. I would guess that the ratio is even lower for Canadian teams in terms of Canadian players.

            The Timbers last year had several lineups that didn’t feature a single US-eligible player

            The league is already headed in that direction, with most teams finding the “international player” rule very easy to work around. I’m not sure how much of an impact that has in terms of the locals’ connection with the team, but there’s certainly a number of downsides to that from the perspective of strengthening the national team pool.

  6. XFL? Not another pro football league with crazy rules, NFL rejects, a nontraditional season, and paltry attendance and negligible ratings?…………..Like they have in Canada?

  7. Redskins, D.C. working with Congress to slip stadium provision into spending bill

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/redskins-dc-working-with-congress-to-slip-stadium-provision-into-spending-bill/2018/12/07/bfb40de8-fa3d-11e8-8c9a-860ce2a8148f_story.html?utm_term=.cfa8125611b3