MLS buys Chivas USA franchise, announces it needs a new stadium

For those of you who don’t follow Major League Soccer too closely, some background: 1) There is a team called Chivas USA; 2) it plays in Los Angeles, or at least in Carson, which is close enough to L.A. to be where the Los Angeles Galaxy also plays; 3) “chivas” means “goats” in Spanish; 4) this is because the team is owned by a Guadalajara team of the same name, adopted in the ’40s after it was initially bestowed as an insult by opposing fans, and the L.A. team was started to try to appeal to Mexican soccer fans in Southern California.

Now forget all that, because after ten years, the league has bought the franchise back from its Mexican owners, and plans to find new owners, rename it, and presumably wash away any memory of a team that has been mostly terrible and poorly attended. Here’s what the league said in its announcement on Thursday:

In the coming months, the league will resell the club to a new ownership group that will be committed to building a new stadium and keeping the team in Los Angeles. The league has had initial discussions with a number of very qualified potential owners and intends to finalize an agreement with a new group sometime this year.

That’s right, a new stadium. Even though the existing stadium (which was formerly named after a home repair store and is currently named after a ticket broker, and will probably have still another new name before I finish typing this sentence) is only 11 years old and has plenty of open dates, since it appears to be used exclusively for soccer. But when you have a free-agent franchise, might as well see what somebody will offer you for it, right, even if you’re limiting yourself to the L.A. area; hey, all the other kids are doing it.

Initial speculation focused on St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke (or “Stank Kroenke,” as NBC Sports wonderfully typos him), who recently bought a bunch of land in Inglewood that could be used for a stadium, maybe. One small problem, though, is that Kroenke already owns an MLS team (the Colorado Rapids), and though in the early years of the league owners happily controlled many teams at once (Philip Anschutz had six at one point), league commissioner Don Garber said they’re not going that route again:

“He [Kroenke] is not a candidate to purchase the team, those days are over,” Garber said, referring to the days when multiple MLS franchises were owned by the same families or organizations. “We are not interested in any other owner owning multiple teams. Stan’s been a great owner of the Colorado Rapids. I’m not familiar with what his plans are on the stadium site, we haven’t spoken about that. But all those rumors that I heard about him ‘buying the land so he could launch a second MLS team’ are unfounded.”

Of course, there’s nothing stopping Kroenke from selling the Rapids and buying Chivas, if he wants. Or building a stadium in Inglewood for the Rams, and then playing landlord to Chivas. Or just being a great big ol’ stalking horse to bid up the price of Chivas, both for an owner looking to acquire it and for an L.A.-area city looking to host it.

Anyway, at least now L.A. has another sport to spread crazy stadium rumors about, now that the NFL stuff has died down, more or less. And Garber is cementing his reputation as a guy whose main goal is a new stadium in every pot, and he doesn’t much care where the pot is. If his goal is to be the Johnny Appleseed of soccer-specfic stadiums, he’s making great progress — look: There goes Sacramento now!