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Garber: United's Future in D.C. in Jeopardy

In an exclusive interview with the Insider, MLS Commissioner Don Garber suggested that, if a D.C. United stadium solution is not found soon, the league might have no choice but to move the club out of Washington.

Highlights:

-- "We don't seem to be able to get a deal done and it could be that, if something can't be resolved, we will move the team."

-- "The ownership group is very committed to the team and to Major League Soccer, but no different than any other sports team in this country, they will not be able to continue to play in RFK and be successful. It does not have a economically viable model playing in a stadium that is substandard."

-- "They cannot continue to operate the way they are much longer. We are getting to the point where we have to start looking at alternatives if we can't put a plan together soon."

-- "For the last 10 years, I have been personally involved with 10 stadium projects and this region of the country has been the single most-difficult area to try to get something finalized. It has me very concerned."

For the full transcript, jump to the continuation of this thread.....

"I am both confused and shocked by what took place in Prince George's County. I am confused because the county very formally reached out to the team to see if they would engage in discussions about moving the team to the area. [United] dropped everything in D.C. and began negotiations, had a press conference and talked about their mutual desire to pursue the concept. And then I read that the council won't even support a bill with the state to look at the project. I certainly hope other businesses that are interested in bringing jobs and economic development to that county have a better experience with them than we did. It's not something I have ever experienced in any other city I have worked in in this country, and for the last 10 years, I have been personally involved with 10 stadium projects and this region of the country has been the single most-difficult area to try to get something finalized. It has me very concerned."

"The good news is that several other cities in Maryland and Virginia have reached out to the team and expressed interest in talking with them about working on some sort of public-private stadium partnership. I believe that Maryland, in particular, from my experiences in the industry, has had great vision in building some of the best sports facilities in the whole country and I hope we can work more closely with the stadium authority and the governor's office in trying to develop a plan for a state-of-the-art facility for D.C. United. I have reached out to the governor and hope to chat with him soon and we'll also pursue other options."

"We are getting close to the point where we can't continue to go on operating the team at RFK, a facility that didn't work for Major League Baseball, does not work for D.C. United and we have to develop a plan to get United in a partnership with a public entity in the region sometime soon or we will have to very seriously think about alternative locations. They cannot continue to operate the way they are much longer. We are getting to the point where we have to start looking at alternatives if we can't put a plan together soon."

"The ownership group is very committed to the team and to Major League Soccer, but no different than any other sports team in this country, they will not be able to continue to play in RFK and be successful. It does not have a economically viable model playing in a stadium is substandard. Whether it is going back pursuing opportunities in the District or it's looking in Virginia or continuing discussions with the Maryland Stadium Authority, we need to come up with a solution or that team does not have a long-term future in the region. Victor and Will are very frustrated. They look at what has been done for hockey, basketball, baseball and football, and believe that D.C. United has earned the right to be able to sit with public officials and engage in a productive discussion that will hopefully lead to a deal. I can't tell you how many press conferences I have attended that have been a road to nowhere and that is just not a productive use of anyone's time.

"D.C. United is a premier sports team in America and it certainly is one of the premier teams in Major League Soccer. It has a very passionate fan base and without United, RFK would not have been viable for the past dozen years or so. We have a very active foundation, we have fans that any sports league can be proud of and any community can embrace. We don't seem to be able to get a deal done and it could be that, if something can't be resolved, we will move the team."

By Steve Goff  |  April 9, 2009; 4:48 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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Comments

I don't think Don Garber's MLS expansion plans are sustainable. We're watering down the league NHL-style. Add him to the list (with the DCU FO and probably Tom Soehn) of "we don't know what we're doing".

I also think this is all bluster. DCU isn't going anywhere.

Posted by: diego_r | April 9, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I also think this is all bluster. DCU isn't going anywhere.

Posted by: diego_r | April 9, 2009 4:55 PM

But what's the point of "bluster" from Garber? He's not trying to gain leverage from politicians - there's no point! You can't force threaten them with leaving, because they don't care.

Posted by: Kev29 | April 9, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

I understand DC United's and MLS's business interest in getting into a SSS and moving elsewhere if they can't get it done here. But they need to understand that if DC United leaves DC, MLS will lose one of its most loyal and passionate fan bases. I have been a dedicated DC and MLS fan from the start, but my interest in MLS will precipitously drop off, possibly to nothing, if DC United are no longer in the DC area.

Posted by: danboleo | April 9, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Damn. I laughed off the moving possibility but reading Garber's comments have really struck a cord that this is a dire moment for the franchise and the league. I'm beside myself. I'm not a DCU fan but I know how important that market is to our league. I've been following the stadium news but never envisioned that it could possibly end in a move. The tax payers I know are handicapped in the area but something has to be worked out. DCU is too important to lose. I hope someone steps up.

Posted by: MichaelVann7 | April 9, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

By the way, thanks for the exclusive interview, Steve. Great stuff as always.

Posted by: danboleo | April 9, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Kev,

They don't care when the public has to pay 75%. They may when MacFarlane negotiates it down to 50. The more posturing the merrier.

Thanks for this interview, Mr. Goff.

Posted by: notafembot | April 9, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Don Garber... Enough.

Because cutting off MLS's nose to spite it's face is going to happen. In what crazy, bizzaro world, do you move the music secessful franchise with the strongest fans base out of a town?

Garb, call out the NFL and ask them about the fiasco that was Browns/Ravens, K?

Posted by: Shanoni | April 9, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Make no mistake, Garber is engaging in some gamesmanship here, but I applaud him for it. Many commentators have pointed out the difficulties of getting public financing for a stadium in the current economic climate, but that doesn't explain why municipalities in other markets have chosen to bite the bullet, but nobody has stepped up in the DC region -- where you have three jurisdictions that potentially could be played off one another.

Garber has a very valid point -- MacFarlane and Chang are not running a charity. If no viable stadium option emerges in the next year, they have no responsible fiduciary choice but to investigate alternative locations. It would be a real loss to the league, but they are losing money every day DCU plays in the craphole that is RFK.

Posted by: jofij | April 9, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

They move DCU out of DC, the entire league can kiss my ass.

Posted by: kris77 | April 9, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Its too bad theres nowhere to put it in Arlington- could there be a more perfect place in the region.

Its funny too because an "urban stadium" surronded by development sounds like something arlington would be all about...

Posted by: laur84 | April 9, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

So, did anyone see Fenty on CBS this morning? When asked what United could do, he said they can continue to play at RFK.

Posted by: rose-family1 | April 9, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Screw Garber - the dude is a gump. He is too busy focusing on expanding the league that he has no time to help out the league's most historical and sucessful team. If DC United moves - all love for the MLS is gone.

Posted by: AnthonyTheGreat | April 9, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

As a native Arlingtonian, I would gladly welcome United to my hometown. I don't really see it happening though.

Posted by: danboleo | April 9, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Kev,

They don't care when the public has to pay 75%. They may when MacFarlane negotiates it down to 50. The more posturing the merrier.

Thanks for this interview, Mr. Goff.

Posted by: notafembot | April 9, 2009 5:04 PM

Then what? The PG Council just says pay the whole thing, once MacFarlane sweetens the deal?

The area wanted baseball - so they paid for it. It's pretty clear that this league - in this economy - cannot try to threaten the city or counties - because they just don't care. That's their stance and I bet they stick with it.

Garber does not want to force MacFarlane out - and it's starting to look like he'll accept relocation over making sure someone pays for a stadium in Washington as owner of DC United.

Posted by: Kev29 | April 9, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Now is it time to make our presence known to Fenty?! Nah, it's only our team's existence at stake, I say we wait another 12 months.

Posted by: redskinsux | April 9, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Now it's time to make our presence known to MacFarlane and Chang. Put up or sell up!

Posted by: Kev29 | April 9, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Garber has a very valid point -- MacFarlane and Chang are not running a charity.
=======================
MD taxpayers are not running a charity either. If Vic and Will's numbers don't add up, what do they expect? If there's another jurisdiction that will put taxpayers on the hook for a 25,000 seat soccer stadium in this economy, then by all means . . . . But until then, why keep asking for a hand-out? And if it's not a hand-out, then why not guarantee the revenue stream to back the bonds, if the numbers are real?

If I were Garber, instead of getting pissed at the governments, I'd be trying to force a sale to a competent and willful management group. These guys aren't getting the job done. "Victor and Will are very frustrated" because they're expecting a hand-out that ain't gonna come.

Posted by: OWNTF | April 9, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Agreed, OWNTF

Posted by: Kev29 | April 9, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

A SSS will only make sense to any jurisdiction in the DC area if it attracts many more events than just MLS games. 32 or 40 or whatever soccer games a year isn't enough to spur economic development. It has to be in use year-round. And the owners have to pay for most of it. DC United's not a charity, but neither is county/city government. The thing has to pay off for everyone. (I want a stadium, but think the team should pay for the thing. It's not government's job to make sure DC United is profitable.)

Posted by: danboleo | April 9, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

The principal illogicism in your statement, Mr. Garber, is that you appear to have done exactly DICK for our stadium efforts in the DC area.

Regards,

iammrben

Posted by: iammrben1 | April 9, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

If season ticket holders could scrape together an avg of $5000 each we could buy back the team, take equity, and install Chest Rockwell as GM.

Posted by: OWNTF | April 9, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

DC United has attempted to build a stadium in earnest since at least 1998. At some point it is not the leagues fault if they have to move the team. The fans are great here which is why they want to build the stadium in the first place, but losing money is still losing money.

As for Cleveland-Ravens, it wasn't a fiasco at all for the league. Great market in Baltimore with a great new stadium, and a promise to return to Cleveland WHEN THE CITY BUILT A NEW STADIUM THEMSELVES. The NFL left because it was not viable without a new stadium even with the Browns rabid fans. How is that any different than what United is dealing with?

Posted by: unitedcaps | April 9, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Would selling shares of the team be a possibility to raise capital?

Posted by: martincr70 | April 9, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

I need a beer

Night friends

Posted by: Kev29 | April 9, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

I, also, say thank you for this exclusive.

I'm pleased to read that Garber is speaking out about this - not just to Steve, but to O'Malley. While we may argue on this timing, this is a level of involvement from MLS HQ that we need but have heretofore lacked.

To those concerned about the loss of the DCU fan base if the team moves: 12K fans/game in an MLS-controlled stadium elsewhere is in the country will make more $$ than 20K/game @RFK. (OK, I'm speculating on the numbers, but business is about money, not the passion of the fans). We could end up with a raw, SJ-like deal where the organization moves away but left behind the team name and history until a soccer stadium is built here.

"several other cities in Maryland and Virginia" Did Garber name names (other than Gaithersburg, Germantown, and Frederick)

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | April 9, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

How many people outside of regular BS and Soccer Insider posters would honestly buy shares in DC United?

Posted by: iammrben1 | April 9, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

They move DCU out of DC, the entire league can kiss my ass.

Posted by: kris77 | April 9, 2009 5:09 PM

That could take a really long time.

Posted by: OWNTF | April 9, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Looks like the United are on their way to St. Louis.

Posted by: JonnyG-StarMetro | April 9, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

jofij has it right.

Posted by: Reignking | April 9, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Macfarlane has three options:

1. put up a lot more money for the stadium

2. Sell the team to someone willing to put up the money for a stadium

3. Move the team

The issue here is whether the team is willing to put up the money for a stadium without much help from the city.

I think a deal with DC at poplar point is still possible if United is willing to spend more. Poplar point has blown up in Fenty's face. Ward 8 wants the team there. It would seem in everyone's interest to give a portion of the poplar point site to Macfarlane - enough for a stadium and some additional development, while leaving the rest for other developers. Macfarlane would have to pay for much of this himself but he would get additional development opportunities, while Fenty could say he was a hard negotiator that is creating jobs. Of course I have no idea if bridges have already been burned.

Posted by: maxabergmann | April 9, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Can Garber stop cuttin' ribbons and anointing all these other cities and pay attention to the team that obviously needs the most support. Anyone who's worked or lived in Washington recognizes the layers and layers of red tape are as sturdy as the monuments here. Garber needs to quit fartin' around and step in and play ball.
Doesn't the guy have connections in the NFL and beyond? Can he get Snyder, to help us out? The Caps? If he's gonna talk all this smack about moving the team, he needs to first make a legitimate effort to get in here and earn the money he's sucking into his pockets out of MLS. MLS wouldn't be what it is without DC United. In my opinion the Nats owe us. If nothing else a little bit of solidarity for the time they spent at RFK and then not paying their bills! Garber and MLS need this to be one of it's top priorities.

Paging Mayor Fenty! You in town or what? Poplar Point is still shovel ready, I was practicing in my back yard this morning!!!

Posted by: DadRyan | April 9, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

MD taxpayers are not running a charity either. If Vic and Will's numbers don't add up, what do they expect? If there's another jurisdiction that will put taxpayers on the hook for a 25,000 seat soccer stadium in this economy, then by all means . . . . But until then, why keep asking for a hand-out? And if it's not a hand-out, then why not guarantee the revenue stream to back the bonds, if the numbers are real?

If I were Garber, instead of getting pissed at the governments, I'd be trying to force a sale to a competent and willful management group. These guys aren't getting the job done. "Victor and Will are very frustrated" because they're expecting a hand-out that ain't gonna come.
___________________________________________

You have no idea what you are talking about. Neither United or MLS ever asked Maryland to pay 75% of the stadium for it. Rather, the agreement was that the State of Maryland would underwrite 75% of the financing with bonds, that would be repaid with interest over time.

By contrast, the District did pay for the construction of Nationals Stadium. That's not what United was asking for.

Next time, why don't you try to learn a bit about the subject at hand instead of spreading disinformation and lies.

Posted by: Stevenho | April 9, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Let me get this straight, Don Garber's strategy is to say "But it's not fair!" ?

Great.

Posted by: Eric_in_Baltimore | April 9, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Garber: "They look at what has been done for hockey, basketball, baseball and football, and believe that D.C. United has earned the right to be able to sit with public officials and engage in a productive discussion that will hopefully lead to a deal."
-----------

Donnie baybee, (and someone correct me if I'm wrong on this) the stadia/arenas for two out of the three sports you mention were paid for with a majority of PRIVATE funds. The only deal you're going to get in this region is one where YOU -- MLS and/or MacFarlane-Chang -- pay for the majority of the cost of building a stadium.

Posted by: Juan-John | April 9, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

One kind of "viable" business model is it really if you are relying on government to pay for and build you a stadium?

I love DC United as much as the next guy, but I hate to see millionaires going begging to the government to give them handouts that will be taken from the pockets of hard-working taxpayers.

Posted by: cthayes1975 | April 9, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

I have to say that it would suck if DC United left DC (Or Maryland). If they did, they'd lose their fans and their passion. So the dummies we're working with need to realize the mistake they're making.

Posted by: Konoha7 | April 9, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

And @Stevenho: the perception that comes out of "the State of Maryland would underwrite 75% of the financing with bonds, that would be repaid with interest over time" STILL makes it look like the State of Maryland is paying for most of the cost of construction. I know what you mean, it's just that perception these days unfortunately counts more than reality.

Posted by: Juan-John | April 9, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

MLS will not leave a top 10 media market.

everything else is spin and negotiation.

Posted by: Section107 | April 9, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

I think that if Untied moved, the current fanbase would just become fans of the new Philadelphia MLS team.

Posted by: JonnyG-StarMetro | April 9, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Rather, the agreement was that the State of Maryland would underwrite 75% of the financing with bonds, that would be repaid with interest over time.
===================
It would be re-paid with interest over time IF THE REVENUE PROJECTIONS FOR THE STADIUM PAN OUT. Otherwise, since the government issues the bonds, the government makes the payments on the bonds. That's why the interest rates on the borrowing are favorable.

Why don't YOU learn what you're talking about, sir.

Posted by: OWNTF | April 9, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

If we all get together, combine the equity in our houses, and cash in our 401Ks or TSPs, we can sell some mortgage-and-security-backed derivatives to buy the team, build a stadium, and pay huge transfer fees for C. Ronaldo and some young, one-name Brazilian.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | April 9, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

If they built a kick butt bar like the Charleston Battery has, or two or three different themed places within the grounds, I know tons of supporters would go there to watch away games, US games, Freedom, World Cup, etc. We don't need condos in the structure, but if you turn it into a *Soccer Destination* I will go all the time. Shoot, I might even try to get a stinking job there;-)!!!!
I need a beer too.
Let's Go United!!!

Posted by: DadRyan | April 9, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the laugh, OWNTF...

Posted by: joedoc1 | April 9, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

I think that if Untied moved, the current fanbase would just become fans of the new Philadelphia MLS team.

Posted by: JonnyG-StarMetro | April 9, 2009 5:39 PM

Eh punk, come say that to my face...LOL. Philly is gonna suck eggs, equally or more so than crap Pink Cows.

Posted by: DadRyan | April 9, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

I just think Garber is looking for an easy way out. He has a franchise with no stadium and a couple of cities who want franchises. So he just wants to put two and two together. Its a shame, really it is. And who pays for it at the end...

as allways..US!

Posted by: TheWashDipsSince88 | April 9, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Our only hope now is that this entire kerfuffle in P.G. County and this interview is all a ploy, masterminded by Steve to ratchet up his blog traffic, and that construction has already started at Poplar Point which no one noticed because no one bothered to look. That's a reasonable possibility, right?

Wow. I guess we had better start making our peace with the team this year.... jesus.

Posted by: the_slammer | April 9, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

To follow up on my idea, we can out-do Carey. On opening day, DadRyan will lead a peloton from the Lincoln Memorial down Constitution and ...ummm... somehow to our stadium. It will be just like the Memorial Day motorcycle parade. We'll call it... wait for it...wait for it... Rolling Paper.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | April 9, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

I have this embarrassing washpost.com signature -- how do I change it? I certainly don't support him anymore!

Anyway, WRT "redskinsux": if you want to work on Fenty, show up at one of the many community meetings where he STILL can be found working the crowd regularly, and make clear how important the stadium is to his constituents.

And WRT OWNTF: I have been thinking as well that a good deal of the fault may lie with the new ownership group. They held out for a huge taxpayer bailout, which would have been hard enough in light of the major fight over the Nationals stadium which Fenty opposed, and which was also inconsistent with the team's original pitch which was, were are not looking to soak the taxpayers the way the Lerners did. So, they were unable to make a deal before the financial crash, and now that the economy (and tax revenues) are in the toilet, if they make any deal it is going to have to be for much less than they could have got before. That is their fault as much as the fault of the politicians with whom they have been dealing.

Finally, don't knock DCU's front office -- the owners may suck, but I've been dealing with the front office for many years and they are a class act!

Posted by: fentysupporter | April 9, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Sigh. This is not a good development. We're flatlining very quickly.

Posted by: strago | April 9, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

By making the move threat, Garber is doing more for United than most anyone else could. I don't think any MLS owner has built sewers and roads along with a stadium. And I don't think any have fully funded their own stadium on private land. If no public entity in the metro area is willing to at least cover infrastructure (and probably help out with interest rates on bonds), no stadium will be built.

For a while many have suspected NY and DC are the 2 biggest financial drains in the league. Both bring a lot to the league, but other owners have to chip in due to single entity. Especially now looking at 2011 with every current team set to play in a MLS-owner controlled stadium but for San Jose, DC looks set to be losing more than anyone else. San Jose is about to buy their stadium land. Long-term, only Vancouver looks to be in a tenant role (somewhat 2nd to the CFL). And they have long owned waterfront property with the intent of paying for their own stadium on it. RFK can't be the long-term future of MLS in DC. If they are truly losing millions a year, temporarily leaving is a real option.

Posted by: undrafted | April 9, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

For an interesting contrast in San Jose, check out this link. Not sure if this has been posted already:

http://www.mercurynews.com/localnewsheadlines/ci_12086078?source=rss

Posted by: MR1Caretaker | April 9, 2009 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Section107 wrote:
MLS will not leave a top 10 media market.

everything else is spin and negotiation.
===========================================

They left the Bay Area, didn't they?

Posted by: Figgy | April 9, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

I'm pleased to read that Garber is speaking out about this - not just to Steve, but to O'Malley. While we may argue on this timing, this is a level of involvement from MLS HQ that we need but have heretofore lacked.

posted by I-270Exit1
-------
This is like saying, "It's so nice that the president is talking about Katrina, so great that he cares!"

Hypberole? Rationally, yes, but this is how it feels in my heart. I am 20 years old. I have been a fan since it's inception, and that's a big effing chunk of my life, I am very emotionally invested in this team. I don't know why MLS isn't sending all the kings horses on this one. I think the above comments are right; Garber judges MLS by expansion, growth, numerical progress rather than the quality of play and the strength of the originals.

I hope, this will be resolved.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | April 9, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Everyone should realize that MacFarlane and Change IMO don't want to make the move threat. That's why Garber is now publicly involved. We aren't privy to what private efforts have been made by the league. I doubt DC ownership wanted public involvement from the league prior to the failure in PG.

The ownership has made several mistakes over the years (including AEG before hand) by not publicly exploring all options (while waiting for the federal land transfer, thinking they could deal with Fenty, commiting to PG County without making deals with enough council members). It's time to let any area that actually want the team make a proposal about how they're going to compete for it. First crack goes to any place close to DC.

Posted by: undrafted | April 9, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Why blame Garber or the League, he is just doing what the Dc owners have told him to do. The dc owners just want to seem like they are the good guys. Fenty it a ----, forget PG county, no one wanted it there anyway. WE need to put pressure on the owners to work harder or Sell, not garber. Its the owners who have not doen crap for this team. And where is the VW help, i am sure if we had better owners they could get something worked out but know we had idiots for owners. They presented this PG idea like a 4 year presents a school project. If this team moves it will not be because of MLS, Don garber, our fans or any player, its..

Our owners and that ----- Fenty.

Posted by: Norteno4life | April 9, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Section107 wrote: "MLS will not leave a top 10 media market. everything else is spin and negotiation."

===

Absolutely. Why, that's as silly as suggesting the NFL would move a team out of one of the country's three largest cities.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | April 9, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

What do you expect Garber to say?

"Oh, it's too bad this hasn't worked out yet. But we'll wait around until RFK falls apart and the team continues to lose more and more money. Golly gee this town sure is swell."

Posted by: Reignking | April 9, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

I wish people would stop calling MacFarlane and Chang "owners." They're not. The League uses the term "investor/operator," and it's not just jargon. To the extent that DC United has an owner, it's the League as a whole. Under single-entity. the League owns 51% of the team. MacFarlane and Chang own 49%. They paid for the rights to operate the team, and as a result they get 49% of any profits. But the League owns the team.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | April 9, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

My recollection of the Cleveland situation.

The city built a new arena for the Cavs (which few cared about), built a new stadium for the Indians (which some cared about), and decided to take the hard line and screw the Browns (which most loved) when the team wanted help with stadium renovations. The city's thinking was the team was so popular and such a big part of the city it would never leave.

Modell didn't want to keep losing millions (keep in mind he had to take a loan to pay for Andre Rison's signing bonus), so he left town.

Consequently, the city went without an NFL team for a few years and eventually caved in and built a stadium for the new Browns. What the city did for the new team was much more than the old team asked for.

Who sufferred?
Modell who got a better deal in Baltimore than he ever would have gotten sticking around? No
The NFL who got a stadium for the new team and old team? No.
People in Cleveland who went without a team for years and then paid a higher figure for a new stadium? Yes.

My hope is that DC/MD/VA does not have to go without a team for a few years for the jurisdictions to appreciate DC United.


Posted by: Shanoni | April 9, 2009 5:05 PM
Garb, call out the NFL and ask them about the fiasco that was Browns/Ravens, K?

Posted by: neil_g | April 9, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

im beginning to come to terms with the inevitability that the team will be gone. c'est la vie, i can do without MLS just like i gave up on MLB.

but i wonder, what happens to this column then? will the Post do away with soccer coverage or just seriously cut it back by running AP stories for everything but the world cup?

Posted by: PindarPushkin | April 9, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

MLS will not leave a top 10 media market.

everything else is spin and negotiation.


Posted by: Section107 | April 9, 2009 5:38 PM

________________________________________

I will file this one right next to:

1. The NFL won't leave the #2 media market in the USA

2. The NBA won't leave the #14 media market in the USA

3. The NHL won't leave Canada.

Posted by: kebzach | April 9, 2009 6:15 PM | Report abuse

This whole thing has been seriously mishandled by the ownership. They need to hire a marketing staff to replace the part-time high-school interns that seem to be running the show now.

In any future dealings, they need to stress the non-stadium elements. PG residents thought they were getting nothing but a stadium. You sell people what they want - stress the affordable housing, movie theatre, restaurants - show them a picture of Reston Town Center. And then say "Oh yeah there'll be a small stadium in the middle of it for your high-school football games, cheerleading competitions.. and a pro soccer team might play there sometimes."

I can't believe how badly they've bungled this. I don't blame the municipalities at all. Nobody wants to be fleeced by another stadium deal - the focus should always have been on the surrounding development.

Posted by: Washago | April 9, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Here's my question about St Louis: what concrete plan does that city have that makes it so appealing to DCU or to any other current MLS team? Having been to the Collinsville area about 200 times in my life, I can't for the world see a stadium going up there. And the STL soccer park, which has been gifted to the STL investors by Busch and Co. is a flood plain that can't hold more than 5K people.

Posted by: kebzach | April 9, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Spin

Hyperbole

Gamesmanship

Aggressive negotiating

Equity

Debt

Loans

Taxpayer-Paid(Free) vs Taxpayer Financed(Bank)

Utterly disgusted at this topic. A centrally located stadium here will do so much better, but it's just a pipe dream at this point and the things in its way are mounting.

Back to The Masters.

Well - looks like I'm going to have to get through the next few years and then when I'm no longer bound to DC get on the cross country move to the Pacific Northwest.

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | April 9, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Thanks a lot Donnie G, I'm sure people are going to spend their hard earned bucks on a lame duck team now

Posted by: NattyBo1985 | April 9, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

I love Don Garber. Best commissioner in sports today. If he said these things about any other team, DC fans would say the same thing, but some can't handle the truth.

Posted by: beach3 | April 9, 2009 6:45 PM | Report abuse

By the way Goff. Great work, you continue to provide great scoops.

Posted by: strago | April 9, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

"a facility that didn't work for Major League Baseball, does not work for D.C. United"
WTF? What does a stadium that is right/wrong for Baseball have to do with a stadium being right/wrong for soccer?

While I like soccer games at RFK and think it is actually a good venue for it, I do understand that it is falling apart and not viable to maintain in the long run. That is a far better reason to get not (not to mention the raping DCU gets by DCSEC), but to imply that Nationals stadium would be a better venue because it works for Baseball is asinine (yes I know that isn't what he means to imply but it's what it sounds like).

And what about the other teams (some of which have these great and powerful SSSs) that aren't remotely turning a profit because they can't get people in? Where is the talk about moving them?

The only way there should be talk of moving the team is if the current owners wish it due to said financial issues or the current owners want to sell and the only buyers are elsewhere. Both of which are entirely possible and reasonable (from a business perspective), but for Garber to make it sound like the league is passing down an ultimatum to a team in a location that actually can pull a decent (in MLS terms) number of fans every game is just silly.

Posted by: iamgnat | April 9, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

It would be re-paid with interest over time IF THE REVENUE PROJECTIONS FOR THE STADIUM PAN OUT. Otherwise, since the government issues the bonds, the government makes the payments on the bonds. That's why the interest rates on the borrowing are favorable.

Why don't YOU learn what you're talking about, sir.
_____________________________________________

I am unaware of any serious issue that was raised in regards to the revenue projections contained in the Maryland Stadium Authority's report. Besides, the legislation before the Maryland General Assembly was for a second more detailed study and report. That was what was being voted on -- not issuance of bonds to begin construction.

Of course, if I looked at things the way that you seem to do I suppose I'd feel that ignorance is bliss.

Posted by: Stevenho | April 9, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

I think we are getting very close to reading stories about the Balitmore United or the Richmond United.

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | April 9, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Having living in Ohio during the Browns v. Ravens fasco.. yes it was. The league had to give Modell a new team/expanation team because they were barred from taking the Browns name, histroy, stats, etc with them which screwed lots of stuff up and created enoumous amounts of illwill

Posted by: Shanoni | April 9, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Firstly, if Chang and McFarland don't have enough money to go forward with a stadium, then why don't they get another partner or two w/big bucks.

Secondly, we have two colleges here that we could maybe throw into as a temporary facility until we get one built. George Mason has a big outdoor field and no football team. It could hold alot of people. UMD probably does too. If the county's cry "Oh, I thought you were going to pay for all of it, not us." then go in w/a college. George Mason has a really nice field. Has anyone ever tried to get land in Fairfax County?

Posted by: VirginiaFan | April 9, 2009 7:38 PM | Report abuse

What happens when DCU leaves RFK? It gets demolished. No more reason to maintain it. It will never have another major tenant. What happens to all that parking right by a Metro stop & the people w/ jobs produced by events @ the stadium? I think there is a deal there for DC to preserve the utility of that infrastructure in a post-RFK world (which is coming soon enough, regardless). Build a new SSS on the grounds of RFK. If DCU can't afford to swing its part in that financially, they can try to sell the team to someone who can. But I think the city has an incentive to preserve the value of that site for a stadium. Unless they can get more for the land for something else of course. But it's not a particularly prime location for anything else. DCU could play at Byrd Stadium at UMCP or Greene Stadium at Howard while it was in process.

The people jumping all over Garber & insisting the team is staying in the DC area to continue to lose millions per year into the indefinite future are not being realistic. The NFL has been out of LA since the mid-90s. And DCU isn't one of the most successful franchises in MLS, it's one of the very weakest, in a business sense, which is what we are talking about here.

Remembering Jack Kent Cooke's effort to build his stadium & the drama w/the City Council for a baseball stadium after they'd already made a deal reminds you that local leaders are not the best partners in stadium construction. The timing is just bad, too.

Posted by: TestudoTheFearsome | April 9, 2009 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Ho see if you can follow me:

If the revenue projections don't pan out, the taxpayers are on the hook for the debt service. That's a fact, right?

If there's "no serious issue" with the projections, then why shouldn't the people who stand to profit from the endeavor guarantee the projections? Isn't that what the MLS group in Portland is doing?

In the current environment, it just looks like more rich people looking to privatize any gain and socialize any risk/loss across the tax base. Not that stadium authority projections of future revenue have EVER been exaggerated, but just what if this time they are?

You really shouldn't come on here calling people ignorant liars, especially when your own ability to reason appears so fundamentally flawed.

Posted by: OWNTF | April 9, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

It's not "The Baltimore United" or "The Richmond United".

...But it could be "St. Louis United"

Posted by: B_A_ | April 9, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....


I kid, I kid. Nice interview, Goff.

Posted by: tab5g1 | April 9, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

OWNTF said:
If there's "no serious issue" with the projections, then why shouldn't the people who stand to profit from the endeavor guarantee the projections? Isn't that what the MLS group in Portland is doing?
------------------------------------

Because unlike Portland, the Maryland Amusement Tax, the biggest instrument of repayment, doesn't go away when the bonds are paid off. It lasts as long as the stadium does. Which means that if the stadium falls short of projections, the State still gets paid, it just gets paid late.

Posted by: stancollins | April 9, 2009 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Has Garber gone mental? Does he really think that he can move DC United and get away with it? The Don is truly a pawn. Tell him that there's only one DC United! He may take away our team, but he'll never take our colors or our passion. United Forever!!!

Posted by: bigwave | April 9, 2009 8:14 PM | Report abuse

The Office seems to be focusing a fair bit on soccer tonight. Should help to lighten the mood : \

Posted by: carmines757 | April 9, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

I think DC (Garber and Fenty) just finalized the trade of the Expos for DC United.

I'm sure Goff will love Montreal.

For those of you who don't remember, Garber's words on DC United are almost word for word what he said about San Jose before moving them to Houston.

Get ready for the following:

“The city of San Jose (DC) and MLS have signed a letter of intent which could provide San Jose (DC) with an expansion team as early as 2007 (2012), should a (new) local investor be found, a financing plan for a new stadium be presented and other conditions be met. The Earthquakes (DC United) name, colors and competition records have been retained by MLS for a possible expansion team.”

-Garber 2005 (2009)

Posted by: Southeasterner | April 9, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

MLS and DC United are starting to piss me off and I've been a season ticket holder since 1996! Garber has been invisible during this stadium debacle. If they leave, I won't be going back. That's for sure. It will be back to the Mexican league and euro snobbery for me.

Posted by: mbyrd28 | April 9, 2009 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Well, hopefully, a DC, VA or MD alternative like Garber talked about can arrive. It would break my heart to see them team relocated to another city under a different name. If that happened (drastic, I know) then my support for MLS would pretty much dry up.

Posted by: FatSickBoot | April 9, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Goff,

You missed this!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/08/AR2009040803816.html

Fisher admits that maybe the Nats had something to do with the failed DC United stadium deal.

“But despite the optimism each new season brings, there is a growing unease, questions about whether fans will really support the team and whether the city's investment will provide the promised returns. Times and moods change. When the city's soccer franchise asked for the same deal the Nationals got, Mayor Adrian Fenty gave D.C. United the back of his hand. They announced a move to Prince George's County, which now says it doesn't want them, either, not if it would cost the taxpayers more money they don't have.”

Umm except that DC United DID NOT ask for the same deal the Nationals got Mr. Fisher. Funny you wouldn’t know that after publishing over 30 articles against funding of the new DC United stadium.

Posted by: Southeasterner | April 9, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

DC United and Montreal is already in discussion.

Posted by: DCUnitedFootball | April 9, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

This kind of brought me down a bit.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | April 9, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

i've been a dcunited fan since 96 also... though I have never lived near washington dc! shame what is happening. question for someone out there... has there been a discussion with one of the universities in dc to form a partnership and develop a nice futbol stadium? (not american football!!) something like Houston currently does, though again, you would not want a football stadium.

the reality of the situation is discouraging, but not final. I do think the ownership and MLS do need to think outside the box about how to go about and get a stadium in dc... we know the city is not going to do it... so, move on and think about other alternatives in the city.

I agree with most bloggers and dc supporters... it would be very shortsighted of mls to move the team...

Posted by: temuco | April 9, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Good interview Steve, I've been wondering when and what Garber would say -- now we have it and it's not pretty.
All of this sucks to no end. If DCU leaves, I probably won't pay much attention to MLS, I'll switch to the Freedom (already have season tickets) and to the USL-1 team that will undoubtedly move into the market when and if DCU leaves.

Posted by: griffin1108 | April 9, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Aw man! This has nothing to do with MLS being shortsighted. They want United in DC. But if they can't find a home for the team, they have no choice.
Shortsighted? Man are you clueless.

Posted by: Figgy | April 9, 2009 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Sooooo. Looks like Portland needs a little help eh? This is crazy. I was really just joking when I said I'd move to Portland if United got relocated there...
@VBB: You'd love the Pac NW... I think. Portland is a hell of a lot more blue collar than ol' metronaturaldonia... but...they do have the best strip clubs I've been to outside of Hawaii....;-)

Posted by: DadRyan | April 9, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

I guess what I'm trying to say is, no matter how awesome the juxtaposition of the Lusty Lady and SAM is, Portland will always have light years more potential in pleasing visiting and immigrating MLS fans.

Posted by: DadRyan | April 9, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Is it true the league owns 51% of the club and Chang, McFarland etc. own 49%?

Posted by: VirginiaFan | April 9, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Oh please, DC United's owners are committed to a development deal with a stadium. No development deal? They'll take the team elsewhere.

Posted by: noptov | April 9, 2009 10:11 PM | Report abuse

In this economy, what city is going to be willing to ask its taxpayers to pay for a stadium. This talk of alternate options is such BS. DC has one of the mot loyal fan bases in MLS. Moving the team just because you don't get a brand new stadium is stupid.

Posted by: BT23 | April 9, 2009 10:20 PM | Report abuse

I would not be surprised to find out that DC United is getting hosed by the Nationals. Both the city and MLB feel pressure to make the Nats successful. The city paid a ton of cash for the stadium. Why would they want to support a league and a team that competes in the same market and the same season?

Posted by: DCU4LIFE | April 9, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

We might have to out-source United to China along with all the other American jobs.

Posted by: 9Nine9 | April 9, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Goodbye DC United.

And no, I'll not support a Philly team. If DC goes, I am done with MLS.

Posted by: Ron16 | April 9, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Hey Steve,
Why don't dematha alums by some houses in hyattsville and build a football field, so Macfarlane and PG could upgrade PG Sports complex into a 25000 ? Then they could play state champion High school games as well. Wc qualifiers. United fans don't want the Taj Mahal just a place where bleachers bounce and beer is cold.

Posted by: joeortega4 | April 9, 2009 11:20 PM | Report abuse

BT23 wrote:

In this economy, what city is going to be willing to ask its taxpayers to pay for a stadium. This talk of alternate options is such BS. DC has one of the mot loyal fan bases in MLS. Moving the team just because you don't get a brand new stadium is stupid.
=======================================

So your suggestion is United should just stay in RFK and bleed millions of dollars until their owners go bankrupt?

Posted by: Figgy | April 9, 2009 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Goff, if DCU where to leave where would that leave you? Would you have to pull and Ives?

Posted by: ATPDC | April 9, 2009 11:28 PM | Report abuse

United fans don't want the Taj Mahal just a place where bleachers bounce and beer is cold.

Posted by: joeortega4 | April 9, 2009 11:20 PM

Hardly a truer truth has been spoken.

Posted by: delantero | April 9, 2009 11:30 PM | Report abuse


God, what a steaming pile of nonstop disingenuous horsesh*t from Garber. One can only hope his emotions are getting the better of him.

But if this is the true face of MLS, one thing I will say about the league and DC: they deserve each other.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | April 9, 2009 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Goff . . . at least it's not jokes, but real news from a prime time player . . . I'm thinking I prefer ZZZZZZZZ.

Posted by: delantero | April 9, 2009 11:31 PM | Report abuse

""The good news is that several other cities in Maryland and Virginia have reached out to the team and expressed interest in talking with them about working on some sort of public-private stadium partnership.""

Goff, get your crack staff to work on this, where's Tenorio?

Posted by: delantero | April 9, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Well, the sad reality is that there is a very real chance that DCU may move if a stadium deal can't get done. How does it happen? well here are a few options that I see, some are realistic, some are pie in the sky.
1. find a stadium freindly community in MD or VA. I think MontCo is the best bet, maybe near shady grove. There is still some undeveloped (and underdeveloped) land in that area. MontCo is a soccer freindly county, and there seems to be some interest there.
Howard county is an option that no one has talked about, understandably. But, there is undeveloped land in southern HowCo right off of Rt 29. this would really steam the NOVA fans, but...
NOVA is probably never going to work unless they stick it out near Dulles once the silver line gets built, in about 20 years...maybe.
2. The DC option. As long as Fenty is in office this probably wont happen, unless it is part of a larger development, like a new redskins stadium, or a private commercal/residential development that would prob require money from DCU ownership. I dont see the current owners fronting the cash needed to make that happen.
3. New owners. Either sell the team outright to someone that will pay for a stadium, our bring in additional partners with cash to pay for it. Leonsis? Snyder?
4. Move the team into an existing local stadium with a better deal than what they have at RFK. I bet that UMD (byrd stadium, not ludwig) or Snyder (fed ex) would welcome a revenue generating tenant. DCU would not have a great bargining position, but any deal that is better than RFK is a better deal. this would be a temporary fix at best.
5. Cut our losses, say good bye to United, and get a Crystal Palace Baltimore jersey and season tickets. Which, by they way, are a steal. around $100 for a full season. I think that we forget that there are three other pro soccer teams in the dc area, actually in MD. Freedom, Real MD, and CP Baltimore. within two hours if DC there is also Richmond and Harrisburg. there are a lot of ways to spend your soccer dollars in the region. Oh and if you like indoor soccer, the baltimore blast are probably going to win their league championship, and there is a team in Winchester Va that has had a succesful year.

Posted by: jjfooty | April 9, 2009 11:49 PM | Report abuse

I can't imagine MLS without DC United.

How can one expect the most successful team to just be picked up and sent to somewhere else (i.e. St. Louis)? I don't think that's ever gonna happen. Or I would lose alot of interest in MLS. I wouldn't stop watching, but I wouldn't watch like I did.

And I'm not supporting Philidelphia. DC or nothing.

Posted by: Konoha7 | April 10, 2009 12:07 AM | Report abuse

No, we didn't forget.

Do you really think United and any other soccer team in the area are interchangable?

Other options, certainly. But I think we're all (with the exception of godfather of goals) hoping United pulls it out.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | April 10, 2009 12:15 AM | Report abuse

VirginiaFan: Yes. But keep in mind that by "the League," we don't mean Don Garber. We mean the collection of investors in the League.

Take a read of this entry in Bill Archer's blog:

http://www.bigsoccer.com/forum/blog.php?b=4316

It gives a good outline of how the league finances work and who owns what.

The local investor-operators (for us, that's MacFarlane, Chang et. al.) own 49% of their local team. The entire collection of investor-operators own 51% of each of the teams.

This means that it's not just the local investor-operators that care when a team loses money -- all the owners in the league care, because any team in the red hurts *everyone's* bottom line. The local investor-operators care more, because the team they operate makes up a larger fraction of their personal profit/loss; but a team in the red is a drag on the profits of every investor-operator in the League.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | April 10, 2009 12:25 AM | Report abuse

I for the life of me don't understand the venom directed to the Team, the League and Garber over this issue.

Contrary to most peoples belief United has been one of the major money losers in MLS and has been subsidized by the League for its entire history.

The League is simply saying this cannot continue from a business sense even though the League loves the fan base and the identity the team has created.

If it were your money and you had tried for 14 YEARS to build a house but had problems with the local government over permits, you would have packed it in a long long time ago.....

I just hope something can be done with perhaps building a minimal stadium SOMEWHERE in the area.

Posted by: dcufan53 | April 10, 2009 12:48 AM | Report abuse

MD taxpayers are not running a charity either. If Vic and Will's numbers don't add up, what do they expect?

And if it's not a hand-out, then why not guarantee the revenue stream to back the bonds, if the numbers are real?


Posted by: OWNTF | April 9, 2009 5:18 PM
-----------------------------------------

This is a really disappoionting comment, in a thread full of them. It seems full of hte usual internet chest-thumping and lack of common sense.

Who said their #s don't add up?

Seems like nobody here understands boo about finance. A government can sell bonds to finance the bulk of construction. And collect tax revenues from stadium events, on top of tickets, rents, concessions, etc. to pay off the bonds. DCU can't do either of those things. What would be economical for a gov't is ludicrous for a private enterprise.

Those who don't think they'll leave DC if that's the only way to leave RFK are living in a fool's paradise. RFK is an embarassment. Crappy concessions. Crappy seating, Crappy crowds.

Fenty says they can play in RFk? Righ and they will...until someone comes along with a better offer. Which might be St. Louis. Or Queens. Or Montreal (oh, the irony of that - the revenge of Les Expos!!!)

The team's got a year, maybe 2, to put together a deal here, After that, they're sure to sign somewhere else. And the league knows full well thathtey'll lose us as fans. That's a given, Your whining posts about that aren't going to scare anyone. They're not expecting you to drive up to Philly for games. Philly will have its own fans.

Posted by: fischy | April 10, 2009 1:15 AM | Report abuse

Even though I live in Baltimore I would be sad if DCU moves out of the district and horrified if they move out the washington area.

Posted by: ssdesv | April 10, 2009 2:14 AM | Report abuse

I'm starting to get real p****d off. If I read one more post stinking of denial about the situation I'm going to puke. For those of you that think there is no chance that DCU ever leaves town, your just stupid idiots. For those of you that just blame the team/ownership for this mess, you're idiots as well. The movie Heartbreak Ridge had an affectionate term for this situation and it fits very well. Everyone is to blame here; the local governments, the ownership, and the fans. None of the three are without fault in this decade long mess.

Here are a few thoughts on this:

Step one is to find another local investor with some serious cash so they are prepared to bring money to the table. Anyone will do but Teddy is who I would call.

Step two is to find a place with a friendly local soccer community. Don't go somewhere where they hate the sport.

Step three is to hire some competent marketing and legal people to get the thing rolling. Garber and MLS should wake up and try to help the team with this area. PG was a Heartbreak Ridge adjective.

Step four is for the fans to rally behind the next possible site. Like it or not, DCU fans let the team down in the PG fiasco. The stadium opponents were much better organized/numbered and gave us a good old fashioned a*s kicking. I know that the team should taken the lead on this but there are groups within the fan base that could have taken the lead when the team failed to do so. It starts with the fans from whatever jurisdiction the SSS is attempted.

OK everyone tell me why I'm wrong.

Posted by: croftonpost | April 10, 2009 2:22 AM | Report abuse

Steve-Will this make it to print eventually?

Posted by: croftonpost | April 10, 2009 2:29 AM | Report abuse

I've been a United fan since 96 and if they move they make a very difficult decision for me very easy. I live in Oregon now and with the Timber entering the league in 2011, I was wondering how to approach my loyalties. I was born in DC and I won't support a United team not in the metro area. The Portland Timbers will have a great stadium all to themselves and a rowdy, if small, fan base. I'll likely go to the United games as an anarchist in my Etcheverry United gear if they are still a DC area team. If they move, I'll cherish the memories of United glories past but I'll adopt the Timbers. Portland is a great city to expand to for MLS, I pray that with MLS will come National team games to this very enthusiastic fan base in the Pacific Northwest, let's see Trinidad and Tobago travel to Portland for a qualifier. That would be a very strategic locale, along the same line as Columbus.

Posted by: damjammer | April 10, 2009 5:03 AM | Report abuse

The comments from fans threatening their wrath if the team moves are funny. Fans are the most replaceable player in all this. Move the team to Cleveland or wherever, and I'm sure a bunch of crazies from Shaker Heights will step in and replace us in a minute. That's such a given it's not even a factor.

Posted by: Alsatian1 | April 10, 2009 6:48 AM | Report abuse

Step four is for the fans to rally behind the next possible site. Like it or not, DCU fans let the team down in the PG fiasco. The stadium opponents were much better organized/numbered and gave us a good old fashioned a*s kicking. I know that the team should taken the lead on this but there are groups within the fan base that could have taken the lead when the team failed to do so. It starts with the fans from whatever jurisdiction the SSS is attempted.

OK everyone tell me why I'm wrong.

Posted by: croftonpost | April 10, 2009 2:22 AM

Ummmm, you're wrong.


Posted by: Hoost | April 10, 2009 7:04 AM | Report abuse

MD taxpayers are not running a charity either. If Vic and Will's numbers don't add up, what do they expect? If there's another jurisdiction that will put taxpayers on the hook for a 25,000 seat soccer stadium in this economy, then by all means . . . . But until then, why keep asking for a hand-out? And if it's not a hand-out, then why not guarantee the revenue stream to back the bonds, if the numbers are real?

If I were Garber, instead of getting pissed at the governments, I'd be trying to force a sale to a competent and willful management group. These guys aren't getting the job done. "Victor and Will are very frustrated" because they're expecting a hand-out that ain't gonna come.

Posted by: OWNTF | April 9, 2009 5:18 PM
________________________________________
This misses the point. PG came to DC United with eyes and arms open, then got cold feet when they realized it would take public investment to get them. Garber and DC United are right to blame PG County, whose government officials have come off looking like the spineless jellyfish they are.

Posted by: schmuckatelli | April 10, 2009 7:37 AM | Report abuse

They move DCU out of DC, the entire league can kiss my ass.

Posted by: kris77 | April 9, 2009 5:09 PM

I agree. The only reason I watch MLS is because of DCU and the "stars" that play on the US National Team. Otherwise the league's quality of play and officiating put out the most boring brand of soccer that I have watched. Garber is not worried about the quality of the game. He takes the beauty out of the beautiful game. I never could stand the guy. However I understand that this is a business and they are trying to turn a profit. What I find shocking is that the owners of DCU don't want to put in more of their own money to build a stadium. Wow! If the DC Metro area loses DCU, they miss out on all the hard work DCU fans and players put into the community. It sucks that a football and baseball stadium can be built when these two sports are always involved in some sort of scandal. When was the last time you heard of an MLS player being drunk and running someone over with their car or lying to congress about their steroid abuse. Thanks to the political nonsense of Maryland, DC, and Virginia our metropolitan area may lose one of the most charitable sports teams that I know. That is really sad.

Posted by: no_recess | April 10, 2009 8:10 AM | Report abuse

"Trinidad and Tobago travel to Portland for a qualifier. That would be a very strategic locale, along the same line as Columbus."

The Trinidad game was played in front of nearly 30,000 overwhelmingly US-supporting fans in Nashville. The excellent home support helped them win in a cakewalk. Why on earth would the federation need to play that game in Portland, on an artificial field?

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | April 10, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

I've been a United fan since 96 and if they move they make a very difficult decision for me very easy. I live in Oregon now and with the Timber entering the league in 2011, I was wondering how to approach my loyalties.
Posted by: damjammer | April 10, 2009 5:03 AM
-------------------------------------------
DJ, just two thoughts for ya:

1) Don't count on the Timbers moving up too soon. That deal is starting to look shakey.And over what--Stadium issues. I'm not trying to be a killjoy. But things aren't looking so good for that deal, either.

2) Are you not supporting the Timbers now? If not then why? With the hardcore fans that they have? With the atmosphere that they are able to generate at PGE already???

Posted by: yankiboy | April 10, 2009 8:24 AM | Report abuse

hoost,

If DCU fans remain relatively quiet while the next possible SSS is being negotiated as they did during the PG fiasco then the next one will fail as well. We may have crashed the servers in Annapolis but it was the regular onslaught of angry voices and faces that the legislators remembered. I was at the rally in Annapolis and the turnout was very disappointing. A very large turnout that day could have changed the bills momentum entirely. What if a large number of fans were at the Council meeting that day and Bland had not felt the pressure she did from the opponents. I don't think I'm wrong. We got our butts handed to us by the opposition and it mattered.

Posted by: croftonpost | April 10, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

This ticks me off. The fans have done all they can do. We’ve written letters to legislators, we’ve signed petitions, we’ve gone to rallys and more than anything, we’ve been there for the team and the league every step of the way. We can’t build them a stadium. That’s not our job. That’s their job. So, they can’t get it done and now the team and the league want to threaten leaving? Who’s this hurt? Not the league because some other city with other fans will come along. Not the team because again, fans are expendable. Not the city because frankly, they don’t care about soccer. No, the only ones hurt are the fans who have been the poster child for the league. Look at a MLS commercial sometime. They always have pics of DC fans in there because we set the standard. So they have a tough time and they want to take our team? Yeah, OUR team. The team we named, supported, traveled for. Screw them.

Posted by: CrippledKeeper | April 10, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Blame the fans?

"It's the economy, stupid."

Posted by: Reignking | April 10, 2009 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Garber: "I am both confused and shocked by what took place in Prince George's County".

Really. Really?

This sort of outcome is totally predictable when working with political entities that are both corrupt and incompetent, which the PG County - and frankly, DC Government have proven themselves to be.

Posted by: roadkit | April 10, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: croftonpost | April 10, 2009 8:27 AM

You're blaming it on an inadequate public display of support? I think you're wrong.

Posted by: JkR- | April 10, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Guys, I'm not blaming the fans. Politics are politics and if we don't play the game with the same strength or close to the same strength as the opposition then we will lose. I'm sorry, like it or not that is the truth of the matter.

Posted by: croftonpost | April 10, 2009 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Goff, I rarely check your blog to be completely honest. My go-to for soccer news is always SoccerByIves, but I have been all over your site for the last week. After this exclusive interview, your my new hero.

Ass-kissing aside, this is terrible news for DC United. As a fan for life, to hear Garber say that he will move the team if it doesn't get a stadium, is a kick in the balls.

He has done NOTHING to help incompetent owners get a new stadium. If he would only help the ownership put together a mutual deal, we would get somewhere. This is honestly the worst news I have heard all year.

I feel completely helpless and depressed. Our owners do not know what they are doing, Garber sits in his office counting millions cities have paid to join the MLS, and we, the fans of the greatest soccer team ever in the U.S., can do nothing about it.

I hope everyone with any interest in the team comes out to the Revs game next Friday night at 7:30, which will be broadcast nationally on ESPN, to make a statement to the league and nation that we love our team and won't sit on the sidelines and watch it die.

Posted by: adamsunited | April 10, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

*****
I wish people would stop calling MacFarlane and Chang "owners." They're not. The League uses the term "investor/operator," and it's not just jargon. To the extent that DC United has an owner, it's the League as a whole. Under single-entity. the League owns 51% of the team. MacFarlane and Chang own 49%. They paid for the rights to operate the team, and as a result they get 49% of any profits. But the League owns the team.
*******************

You are completely and utterly wrong. That is a misconception that has been perpetrated for years on Bigsoccer.

Bill Archer is wrong. He doesn't understand how it all works. I didn't, either, until it was explained to me by an MLS GM.

The investor/operators own shares in MLS, LLC (and, if they choose, in SUM). MLS, LLC runs the league and takes in revenue from sponsorship and national TV and takes some revenue from each of the teams (including some of the shirt sponsorship money and some ticket revenue). MLS, LLC also holds player contracts and registration cards.

But MLS, LLC does NOT own 49% or 51% or 2% of the individual corporations that operate each MLS team ("the franchises"). It just doesn't. Robert Kraft has shares of MLS, LLC. That does NOT give him a percentage of DC United or Real Salt Lake or Toronto FC.

AEG has a percentage of Houston (still) and owns LA, but that's above and beyond AEG's investment in MLS, LLC.

MacFarlane and Chang (and their partners) absolutely "own" DC United (through whatever company they've set up, whose name appears on paychecks and things). The league, at the end of the day, could revoke the franchise rights (subject to whatever ownership agreement exists), I guess, so it may have that control.

But it is absolutely, 100% NOT true that single entity means that MLS "owns" a percentage of each club and the I/Os own the rest and/or that any club's I/O has, by transitive property, any percentage of anyone else's club.

It's just not true.

Posted by: very_clever_username | April 10, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Croftonpost I too was at annapolis and we outnumbered the anti stadium folks 65-5, so I have no idea what you're talking about.

Where we did fail, and IMO GOALMaryland failed big time, was getting people out to PG County Council meetings. I've never seen a more disappointing and crappily run advocacy group than GOALMaryland.

Posted by: NattyBo1985 | April 10, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

NattyBo1985,

I hear you and to an extent I agree with you. My point about Annapolis is that it was the one organized rally and the results weren't great. Imagine if there hundreds of fans marching up (evern more would be nice) the street. It would have created quite the impression in Annapolis. We may have outnumbered them there but it wasn't exactly impressive.

I wholeheartedly agree about the Council and locally is where the real butt kicking occurred. That is why I believe the SSS can't be proposed in another area where the community isn't very soccer friendly.

Posted by: croftonpost | April 10, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

All,

One thing to add on a number of these posts. If you want to keep DC United, we need to get in touch with our local governments NOW. We can't wait for a tentative deal to be in place, we need to assert ourselves and make our local leaders aware that there is a significant (voting) presense in their jurisdiction that will be none to pleased if the MLS has the Montreal or St. Louis United in a few years.

While many folks on this blog are waiting for the ax to fall, let's look at this another way. This could be the event that turns the corner for MLS. If, by pure fan support alone, we can force local government into agreeing a stadium deal, that would be a bigger triumph for MLS (and us the fans) than Seattle's debut.

I will leave you with this, and say that DC United fans are better than the fans of all of these teams.

Los Angeles Rams, (old) Oakland Raiders, Los Angeles Raiders, Baltimore Colts, Cleveland Browns, St. Louis (football) Cardinals, New York (baseball) Giants, Brooklyn Dodgers, Minnesota Northstars, Montreal Expos, Winnepeg Jets, Quebec Nordiques, San Jose Earthquakes, Washington Senators, Houston Oilers, Charlotte Hornets, Seattle Supersonics, Hartford Whalers.

It can be done, but we as fans have the power to prevent it. We are better fans than any of the teams above.

Posted by: daandre3 | April 10, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Hey, I have an idea for all you suburbanites: move to the city, or shut up. Because the only effective political lobbying you can do is if YOU LIVE IN THAT MUNICIPALITY. C'mon, the is the freakin' nation's capitol -- you doesn't know the first rule of politics? ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL. So go talk to your local reps, whether that's Arlington, Montco, or whatever suburb most of you live in. If you want a say in DC politics, bite the bullet and LIVE IN THE CITY. I know that's hard to fathom b/c "it's so expensive" or "where will I be able to park?" but if you had gotten in ten years ago it wouldn't have been so expensive (ie, be a pioneer, not a follower) and if you learn to live without driving everywhere all the time the parking isn't so bad. There is nothing worse than suburbanites telling the city what it should do when 95% of you don't have the b*lls to live here. Put up (ie, figure out how to get a stadium in YOUR community) or SHUT UP PLEASE. I love DC United but the District will be fine without them...

Posted by: tmh5e | April 10, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

YOU ARE ALL WRONG! I blame Gallardo!!!!!! ;)

Posted by: DCU_VW | April 10, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

I hope everyone with any interest in the team comes out to the Revs game next Friday night at 7:30, which will be broadcast nationally on ESPN, to make a statement to the league and nation that we love our team and won't sit on the sidelines and watch it die.

Posted by: adamsunited | April 10, 2009 9:13 AM

Dude, I know ESPN will pregame it up a bit but that game is actually scheduled for 700pm... Don't sleep. I hate to say it, but a friday night is worse than a Thursday in my household... It'll be difficult for me to get out to this one. Luckily it'll be on TV.

Posted by: DadRyan | April 10, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

very_clever_username: can you find a source substantiating what you have to say? Just saying "no, you're wrong" really loudly and stomping your feet isn't very persuasive. While you're at it, also explain why the other investor-operators had a say in the relocation of San Jose to Houston. Thanks in advance.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | April 10, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

The sense of self-importance shown by some DCU fans is laughable...and naive. Do you really think you're less expendable than Bay Area fans? Miami fans? Tampa Bay fans? Please. The MLS will not support teams that don't have their own stadium. Period. If DC can't get it done, then bye bye DCU.

Posted by: Danno1313 | April 10, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

This is rediculous. Im glad PG said no because PG county is CRAP. They should move the team to the southern tip of maryland( just outside dc) so the team doesnt lose the hispanic crowd and us county folk cant still catch the game. Virginian should be able to still metro in as well. Once again those fools in PG county have the slitest clue how to setup anything that is economically Valuable. Just look at the county. It is the worst place to be in maryland by far.

Posted by: g3impreza | April 10, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I don't think Don Garber's MLS expansion plans are sustainable. We're watering down the league NHL-style. Add him to the list (with the DCU FO and probably Tom Soehn) of "we don't know what we're doing".

Posted by: diego_r | April 9, 2009 4:55 PM
_____________________________________________

Diego, yeah garber doesn't know what he's doing, the whole expansion ideas in Toronto, Seattle, San Jose and Salt Lake city haven't worked out at all. Are you kidding me? It's the original teams that need to get it in gear. Kansas City and Dallas are anchors around the leagues necks and can't get ANYONE to their matches (moreso Dallas). Despite having the Champs, Columbus's support is not impressive at all. The fact is DCU needs a stadium. Garber is probably bluffing but the fact is that It's time for MLS to do some threatening of their own, instead of allowing DCU to be treated like a rag doll charity case. DCU loses a fortune every year because of playing in RFK. The city should be grateful to DCU for pumping all this money into the city for 14 years and should've gone out of the way to help them. I don't think DCU will leave, i would hate it if they do, but I could never ask an ownership group to continue taking tens of millions of dollars in losses as well. I'm sure they will be able to work something out, but MLS and DCU have to show some spine as well. And you can't blame expansion, the new cities have more enthusiasm by far. I think Vancouver and Portland are going to be awesome for the league, with great soccer traditions and passionate supporters.

Posted by: dg_nb | April 10, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

How about talking to the Redskins about swapping stadiums? Since it's obvious that the Redskins want to comeback to DC, why not let DCU take over Fedex Stadium and the Redskins take over RFK and turn it into a brand new stadium. We already know what everyone involved wants. DCU can use Fedex almost as it is.

Posted by: fedster | April 10, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

tmh5e,

Read the posts. Several fans have already suggested that the next site needs to be in a known soccer community. That implies local politics. I don't get your point.

Posted by: blackandred777 | April 10, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Who does Garber think he's fooling?

Posted by: mgilham | April 10, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

There is nothing worse than suburbanites telling the city what it should do when 95% of you don't have the b*lls to live here. Put up (ie, figure out how to get a stadium in YOUR community) or SHUT UP PLEASE. I love DC United but the District will be fine without them...

Posted by: tmh5e | April 10, 2009 9:49 AM

95% have the brains not to.

Posted by: Hoost | April 10, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

It is great that Steve broke this story on Insider but doesn't this warrant attention in the regular paper. I would think this is news to even casual sports fans.

Posted by: blackandred777 | April 10, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Everyone needs to calm down. It says clearly on my ticket in capital letters "NOW AND FOREVER".

Posted by: Pedalada | April 10, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

All,

One thing to add on a number of these posts. If you want to keep DC United, we need to get in touch with our local governments NOW. We can't wait for a tentative deal to be in place, we need to assert ourselves and make our local leaders aware that there is a significant (voting) presense in their jurisdiction that will be none to pleased if the MLS has the Montreal or St. Louis United in a few years.

While many folks on this blog are waiting for the ax to fall, let's look at this another way. This could be the event that turns the corner for MLS. If, by pure fan support alone, we can force local government into agreeing a stadium deal, that would be a bigger triumph for MLS (and us the fans) than Seattle's debut.

I will leave you with this, and say that DC United fans are better than the fans of all of these teams.

Los Angeles Rams, (old) Oakland Raiders, Los Angeles Raiders, Baltimore Colts, Cleveland Browns, St. Louis (football) Cardinals, New York (baseball) Giants, Brooklyn Dodgers, Minnesota Northstars, Montreal Expos, Winnepeg Jets, Quebec Nordiques, San Jose Earthquakes, Washington Senators, Houston Oilers, Charlotte Hornets, Seattle Supersonics, Hartford Whalers.

It can be done, but we as fans have the power to prevent it. We are better fans than any of the teams above.

Posted by: daandre3 | April 10, 2009 9:32 AM


I completely agree. Well said.

Posted by: blackandred777 | April 10, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

For the record. This sucks. I thought I was done with this crap when I left California. Maybe I brought the team-killing germs with me? Sorry dudes. :-(

Posted by: Danno1313 | April 10, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

As a viable business entity the MLS must preserve the interests of the league. To make a profit the teams need greater control and profit share of parking, food/beverages and suites. As a brand, the MLS is committed to distinguishing itself with new stadiums, luring increasingly better and known players and penetrating markets in soccer cities and beyond. DCU is at risk because both the image and the finances do not make a strong case for sustained growth. Dilapidated RFK is bad for the brand (and smaller stadiums tend to actually increase attendance), the cut that District takes from the team in parking/food/beverages is revenue the team need to go after more top quality players and and of course the owners want to make a profit. So this threat from Garber is serious and should not be dismissed as pure gaming or theatrics. The leagues business model is stronger than one single team with a constrained ability to make money...and at the end of the day, money making franchises is what it's about not storied teams w passionate fans. There are several markets looking forward to luring the team away from DC...and they will do that by simply offering to help build a stadium.

Posted by: ananda001 | April 10, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Everyone needs to calm down. It says clearly on my ticket in capital letters "NOW AND FOREVER".

Posted by: Pedalada | April 10, 2009 10:48 AM

Seen a lot of loverlorn graffitti and high school yearbooks with that too . ..

Posted by: delantero | April 10, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I think ultimately DC will stay in the area. But I think they'll have to look outside of being on the Metro or being centrally located. My guess is they can get a deal worked out if they go to the further suburbs ala Dallas or Colorado. It's not perfect, but it could get things done. If I were them I'd be looking to lock down land off the Dulles Toll Road out near Route 28 in the area near the Innovative Technology Center where Northern Virginia Baseball wanted to build a stadium. Once the second phase of Dulles Metro is built in 2016, there will be a Metro stop right there. The way things are going, it's going to be 2012 or 2013 before they move to a new stadium in this area if they get one. There would be opportunity for development of whatever other properties they wish to build. It's not ideal granted as it is west of the Beltway and would turn off some fans certainly. But with the Metro coming there a couple years after the place would open, it would at least be subway accessible and I think the reality is there is no ideal situation that's going to happen for them to stay in this area.

Posted by: thrh1 | April 10, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Leonsis....can your group save the day???

Please.

Posted by: CelticFCbhoys | April 10, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Interesting set of problems to overcome. Seems to me there are two big issues:

1. Supply and demand. There is a regional demand for DCU, but the supply (a stadium) comes from a specific locality. In my opinion, the two simply don't match up (and may never do so). It becomes difficult for a city politician to justify expenditures to his or her constituents; the numbers certainly may never add up assuming soccer only usage. And I think this holds for whatever spot we pick on the map around here.

2. Profit. Clearly, the league model (if I understand it correctly based on a number of smart posts here), would appear to leave very little time for DCU to do something. I'm actually surprised it has gone on this long given the losses -- the promise of a stadium and the success of the club probably helped quite a bit with that. Now, I think the league is running out of time and patience. And this makes it harder for a potential new owner as well -- I would love to see someone like Leonsis come in and save the day, but the incentives just don't seem to be there. If he paid for most of the stadium out of his pocket, I suspect he may never see that money back, unless he let the stadium be used for lots of other things.

The NBA and the NFL have approved moves when the collective ownership realized they could no longer accept losses and/or could make more money somewhere else. I fear that will happen with DCU. I hope I am wrong. Too bad there is not a regional solution to the problem, but that's probably more looney than hoping for a soccer sugardaddy to come along.

Posted by: teamn | April 10, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

If the commissioner wants to be helpful, have the team taken from outsider MacFarlane and be put up for sale to someone local who could then try to get a stadium deal done. If no one steps up, then you can say the community isn't behind keeping the team here.

Posted by: one2 | April 10, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Great interview Goff. Time for us fans to resume pestering both DC govt and the MacFarlane/Chang parties. Also, the comments that follow these types of posts are pure gold. I end up spending an hour reading here and there and feel much better informed compared to when i started.

Watch out RSL, we're just gearin up!

Posted by: TheGreat8 | April 10, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

If it is the only option, then I would support the Loudoun County location. However, of all the locations mentioned it is the most remote save Frederick. I think there would be a huge attendance hit in Loudoun. I think MoCo is the most viable option.

Posted by: blackandred777 | April 10, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm this is so sad. I'll write to my rep in Alexandria, and come to more games this season too. Gee, what a sacrifice I'm making!

I also liked the point someone made earlier that people from outside the local municipality coming in to spend money is what should be seen as most attractive, rather than local residents spending in their own backyard (although that's good too).

Posted by: WorldCup | April 10, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

FC Dallas isn't an anchor around the league's neck, it's one of the only profitable teams in the league. Why? Take a guess.

KC has been an anchor, but won't be long, because it has rich new local owners & a stadium on the way.

DCU is the outlier here. They are on their way out of town unless something drastic changes in the next couple of years.

Posted by: TestudoTheFearsome | April 10, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Worldcup,

As we learned from the PG mess, the problem is you are making sound financial sense and in the end it wasn't about the finances. PG boiled down to getting re-elected. The Council members did not get any sense of local interest in the stadium and in turn feared for their office if they sided with the proponents. For once, it wasn't the economy stupid. Their comments about the financial viability was a smoke screen. This is clear by their vote on the study.

Posted by: blackandred777 | April 10, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

"It is great that Steve broke this story on Insider but doesn't this warrant attention in the regular paper."

I'm not in town and can't confirm, but there's a Goff-written article on the website entitled "(Your City Here) United?" that says it's on D2.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/09/AR2009040904136.html

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | April 10, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Worldcup,

As we learned from the PG mess, the problem is you are making sound financial sense and in the end it wasn't about the finances. PG boiled down to getting re-elected. The Council members did not get any sense of local interest in the stadium and in turn feared for their office if they sided with the proponents. For once, it wasn't the economy stupid. Their comments about the financial viability was a smoke screen. This is clear by their vote on the study.

Posted by: blackandred777 | April 10, 2009 11:59 AM

Great comment. I think you may have hit the nail on the head blackandred777, however, I think the economy played a role reelection concerns. You can't invest public money in something many vocal opponents consider a "luxury" during an economic downturn and get reelected. It's all about perceptions and United did a horrible PR job in trying to change those perceptions.

Posted by: SoccerFan1 | April 10, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

FC Baltimore

Posted by: hacksaw | April 10, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

I don't believe that United owners are totally to blame in this entire stadium situation --- local politicians deserve the largest share of the blame. D.C. politicians are mostly to blame. Let's remember that the Maryland Comptroller and politicians from Prince George's County approached D.C. United about a stadium so it's understandable that United feels blindsided by the most recent setback. I think it is true, however, that United's owners and PR staff could have done a much better job "selling" the stadium to county and state politicians --- especially given the current economic conditions everywhere. It's understandable that the politicians wanted to see the most "bang for their buck." I don't think enough was done to play up the possible non-United uses of the stadium including Freedom, UMD soccer, state high school championship games, concerts, etc.

All the talk about the RFK site is interesting. I truely believe that RFK Stadium isn't viable for ANY team long-term. It needs to be torn down. In my opinion, the D.C. Government and Washington Nationals should kiss the ground D.C. United walks on because if United wasn't playing in RFK than the stadium might not have been here to house the Nationals the first few years after they moved to town. RFK Stadium is on Federal land that is loaned to the city for the specific purpose of a sports stadium. The land reverts to the Federal government once the stadium isn't being used. Actually, I also seem to recall that there's some type of time limit to the agreement but I have no idea when that time limit runs out. Anyone know the details of the RFK Stadium site loan? Could this be part of the reason why United really hasn't put too much work into simply building their new SSS next to RFK? Otherwise, building the SSS next to RFK then tearing down RFK might make be an OK option --- maybe not the best option but given the economic times beggars can't be choosers.

I think United should give serious consideration to simply moving out of RFK and letting the D.C. Government deal with the consequences of having the RFK site revert to Federal control. There are a few acceptable temporary stadium options in the area (though not better than RFK) that aren't ideal but the move could possibly scare some politicians and help generate some movement on the SSS. Byrd Stadium, FedEx Field, and Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium quickly come to mind. Actually, in terms of size, Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium might be a more realistic fit than RFK. There may be other possible stadiums locally but I had trouble finding any others that had at least 25,000 seats. Right now politicians seem to think that RFK Stadium is United's only local stadium option and either don't seem to care if the team could possibly be moved out of the area or don't believe they can find a better option than RFK Stadium in another area.

Posted by: SoccerFan1 | April 10, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

SoccerFan1,

I agree but we need to be careful with the word "invest". When selling bonds the investing is done by others, not the government. The opponents commonly stated that the stadium funds could go to schools, roads, firefighting, etc and that isn't true. Current tax dollars were never part of the equation.

Posted by: blackandred777 | April 10, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I think we can all (mostly) agree that this stadium situation comes down to money in some form. Thus, it seems to make sense that we (the fans of DCU) start to vote with our money. DCU already has by moving the away team hotel from DC to Maryland.

It would seem that the more we refuse to spend our money in the district the more pressure it would put on the elected officials. However, we can't just refuse to spend money there...we must notify the businesses that we are not spending money at their establishment because their elected officials have rebuffed all of DCU stadium attempts.

I think that Barra Brava and the Screaming Eagles hold watch parties at bars in DC and it would hurt not to go there to watch games, but I'm sure there are other local bars (outside of DC) that would show the games. If these supporter groups were to write a letter to these bars stating that they could no longer support DC establishments the council would hear about it. No one likes to lose money! Fifty DCU fans drinking in a bar for a couple of hours is way better than us not spending that money. Similar messages could be sent to your favorite restaurants, shops, etc inside the city. Would it work? Who knows, but at least it would put the pressure back on the city council and we could all feel like we were doing our part to help get a stadium built.

Posted by: jermWV | April 10, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I honestly believe United should be playing in a D.C. based stadium but I'm willing to accept a stadium in the Maryland or Virginia suburbs (whatever it takes). I live in Maryland but I'll still support the team if the stadium is in Virginia. I feel those who threaten to stop supporting United just because they are playing in MD or VA are just being short-sighted and petty. At least the team is still located in the greater D.C. area --- it's better than no team.

Unlike some who have commented, I think Baltimore United, Richmond United or Norfolk United is better than St. Louis United, Montreal United, Miami United, Ottawa United or Atlanta United. It wouldn't be nearly as good as the team staying in the D.C. area but at least the team would be close enough that we could possibly attend some games in Baltimore/Richmond/Norfolk and Comcast may still broadcast games in our area. This isn't, however, the time to write-off United to ANY type of relocation. We fans need to show our strong support for the team so the owners (league & investor/operators) and local politicians know that investing in a stadium for United is a solid investment that will pay long-term rewards.

It's interesting that on the list of stadiums under consideration for our nation's World Cup bid that three of the stadiums are in the Washington-Baltimore region: http://baltimore.bizjournals.com/baltimore/stories/2009/04/06/daily35.html. I believe M&T Bank Stadium is scheduled to host an AC Milan vs. Chelsea this summer. Hopefully the game is successful and Baltimore officials are impressed and decide to do some improvements on the stadium so a wider field is possible thus hosting more international matches is also possible. It would be great to have multiple Washington-Baltimore region options for international friendlies and World Cup matches. Successfully hosting international friendlies and World Cup matches just helps to show how viable soccer is our region.

I'm very disappointed in the stadium news that has out of Prince George's County. While I'm very worried that United may move out of the area I'm still optimistic that a SSS solution will be worked out somewhere in the DC/MD/VA area. Hopefully we'll all be reading some good news about a new SSS in the area before the end of the D.C. United season.

Posted by: SoccerFan1 | April 10, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

SoccerFan1,

I love that idea. That would really screw Fenty's negotiations with the Skins. Good political thinking.

Posted by: blackandred777 | April 10, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

My bad. I was referring to playing elsewhere other than RFK.

Posted by: blackandred777 | April 10, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

blackandred777,

You're right, "invest" was a poor choice of words on my part. Again, it's all about perceptions and the very vocal stadium opponents were able to create perceptions that worked against the stadium. The most important job United had in this latest stadium drama was to help make sure perceptions worked in their favor. They simply did a very poor job controlling the message. Politicians want to get reelected and negative perceptions will have a negative impact on their election chances. One of the politicians has already said something along those lines. Check out the last line in this story: http://baltimore.bizjournals.com/baltimore/stories/2009/04/06/daily36.html. I think that proves the point we are trying to make. Reelection and perception led to the downfall of this stadium effort.

Posted by: SoccerFan1 | April 10, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

SoccerFan1,

I love that idea. That would really screw Fenty's negotiations with the Skins. Good political thinking.

Posted by: blackandred777 | April 10, 2009 12:25 PM

My bad. I was referring to playing elsewhere other than RFK.

Posted by: blackandred777 | April 10, 2009 12:27 PM

------------------------------------------

Yea, it would be a brilliant move on United's part to simply move out of RFK Stadium to another stadium in the area. Fenty and crew would basically be in a panic trying to find a way to keep the RFK site from reverting to Federal control once it no longer has a tenet. Byrd Stadium, FedEx Field or Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium would work nearly as well as a temporary home for United as we are waiting on a SSS. Hopefully someone from United is reading these comments.

Posted by: SoccerFan1 | April 10, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

feedback@mlsnet.com

send as many emails as possible and maybe someone will listen.

Posted by: no_recess | April 10, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

While I agree with the guy from PG in that article that the team did a horrible job selling it (the aforementioned have to leave RFK cause we're not making money instead of have to leave rfk because the freakin concrete is falling apart and may kill someone) he said the same bs that manby have been trying to counter for years and that people like marc fisher kept repeating.

if people continue to think that the stadium would have only hosted 10-20 events a year then i dont know how to counter that perception because they keep getting told it's wrong but refuse to accept. i understand anti-nats backlash but my impression is that the opposition (among the politicians) isnt really based on that

it seems to me that certain influential people have bee going around and purposefully lying about things. obviously there has been fisher (events per year) and nakamura (subsidy versus infrastructure) but it's bigger then them. the whole dc forbade clark from talking to mcfarlane thing is real sketchy (and i cant believe was never investigated by our esteemed newspaper of record).

somebody is muddying the communication waters with back channel spin and it's not being countered. basically DCU's defense has sucked on all fronts for the past few years.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | April 10, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I don't know the details of DC's lease of RFK from the US Gov't. But it's quite possible that the DCS&EC is the tenant and the smattering of flea markets and other things in the RFK parking lots may qualify as tenancy.

Also, I'm not going to re-post it here, but I posted a message in the Open Forum about MD's plan to fast track legislation to (gasp) sell bonds to finance the Pimlico - [snark on] so that it can be used one day each year [snark off].

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | April 10, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

PindarPushkin,

Amen... I love a good conspiracy theory but I think you're right that there's too much going on here to simply be considered a theory. Maybe local politicians and influential big-money/media types really do have something against soccer. Maybe they feel it attracts the "wrong type of crowd" or it projects the "wrong image" for our area.

Whatever the problem is D.C. United must do a much better PR job if they hope to get their stadium. I really think a move out of RFK Stadium to Byrd Stadium, FedEx Field or Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium would send a strong message and might be a smart move if they can strike a better deal (even if it's only slightly better). As they move out they can outline their reasons for moving: they can't make money due to their lease agreement and the stadium hasn't been properly cared for thus it's falling apart. Maybe saying it AND taking action will finally help to drive the message home. At this point too many people just don't get it and until they do...no SSS.

Posted by: SoccerFan1 | April 10, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

SoccerFan1 I like your ideas, but how is the team going to make money at the aforementioned stadiums. One is Annapolis and it would really cripple the fan base. I think they could make it happen at Byrd Stadium, but that is only if that idiot Garber can be convinced that the team will make money there (i.e. concessions, parking, tickets sold). I don't know if that is possible.

Posted by: no_recess | April 10, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe there are United fans who still believe that a move is impossible. It makes no sense to believe that our team is somehow impervious to the same forces that moved other passionately supported teams in good media markets (even better than ours). I mean, how's the sand your head is buried in?

I'm at a loss on this. DC and PG have both royally screwed us, each in their own way. The team has undeniably lost the PR battle both times. None of us has any actual idea whether MacFarlane and Chang can put up more money, or if their offers are as good as they're going to get. Feel free to speculate, but know that all you're doing is guessing. It's nice to hear that other jurisdictions are interested, but after seeing NIMBYs shoot down everything in NoVA and the protracted fight over the ICC and Purple Line in Montgomery, I'm not exactly optimistic about our chances in either area.

Barring a private contribution of the lion's share of costs (75% or so), I don't know if any local jurisdiction will help us out. If MacFarlane and Chang really like this area, really want to be the team's owners, and can truly not afford to spend more than they've offered, they need to find new partners (Leonsis, Hendricks, mystery millionaires, perhaps lottery-winning DCU fans?). I feel like offering the next interested jurisdiction 30-40% of the stadium costs will still end the same way. I just don't see anything getting done in this region without a larger contribution up front and some kind of guarantee if the projected revenues are short.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | April 10, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

All DC United fans let us write to President Obama to put pressure on Fenty and keep the team in DC itself.

Go to change.gov

Posted by: eapenj | April 10, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Vamos Rockville United!!!!

Posted by: kenemerc | April 10, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

CroftonPost, PindarPushkin, SoccerFan1, and Chest Rockwell:

Amen.

MacFarlane's recent struggles are well documented. What about Chang? Isn't he involved in the SF Giants ownership?

I concur that another investor is essential now. The team needs to offer up private money to make this happen. I'm not sure 75% is necessary but something is.

Posted by: blackandred777 | April 10, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

As some of you have alluded to here and elsewhere, what's up with the Post's coverage on this. This not meant as a slight to Steve, but this is a big story. I just scanned over WP.com's sports section and there wasn't a single link to this story. When their is opposition to the SSS there are links everywhere. I'm sorry but I have a real hard time believing that this isn't a WP statement as to their feelings. Does anyone disagree with me about this?

Posted by: blackandred777 | April 10, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

If one wants to assign blame for DCU's failure to secure a stadium, the biggest share has to be assigned to Kevin Payne and the DCU front office. The front office convinced itself that it could do what no other MLS team had done -- build a centrally -located stadium combined with a major development project. This was always going to be a high risk project. Second, the front office persisted with its plan even after it was clear that development at Poplar Point would take much longer than anyone imagined originally and much longer than the team could afford to wait. Even today, serious issues remain to be resolved before construction of any sort can begin. Third, management failed to recognize that the project was not feasible once it could not be started before Mayor Williams left office. Fenty has not gotten much right, but his opposition to the Nats Stadium was on the money. Why would anyone think he would roll over for another stadium?

Now we are at the 11th hour. Sure it would be nice if PG County or someone else saved DCU's bacon, but the bacon needs to be saved only because Payne and company overestimated their understanding of the real estate business and DC politics -- the same way they have overestimated their understanding of managing a soccer team -- but that's other post.

Posted by: Jphubba | April 10, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I hear Charles Minor, the new Regional Manager of Dunder Mifflin Scranton is a huge soccer fan. Maybe, just maybe we can convince him to become a minority owner and cover the adiitional funding for the stadium!

Posted by: DCU_VW | April 10, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Why don't they work out a temporary deal to play at Nationals Stadium with the City, the City owns the stadium's event rights during non-baseball games. Is the field too small? i mean there has to be a way you can do that and turn a profit.

Posted by: alex35332 | April 10, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

alex35332,

sounds great. we too can withhold our rent payments.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | April 10, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

DCU_VW,

After Pam and Michael get their business off the ground we can approach them as well. There's a lot of money in paper these days!

Posted by: blackandred777 | April 10, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

DC United Fans: please, for just a moment please remove emotions and view this from a business deal persective. Some of the worst decisions (business/personal) ever made were done with emotion and not perspective, logic or all angles.

DC United relocating to PG County was business

Think from a business perspective (which is the level that most PG County Residents have placed their voices toward regarding opposition. Many if not most have no problem with the development of a soccer stadium per se...it ALL boils down to finances. Even if an election year wasn't forthcoming, our voices were still very impactful and will continue to be.

(some of the language below a few of you have seen already; I apologize in advance for redudance)

BUT...someone comes up to you and says "hey, I want you go into business with me. I have a business deal proposition and all I ask from you is to use your hard earned line of credit and cover 75% on the initial investment. I, business man, will put up only 25%." You find out that this business man has millions of dollars of liquid asset but wants you to put up your 75% of your line of credit, that you've worked hard to build and maintain but you will need to wait years for a return to cover your credit line. Also, in the meantime, your credit rating has now dropped severely that would compromise future business dealings/negotiations/exploration.

The credit line is Prince George's County residents vested tax dollars. Prince George's county citizens need different types long range, environmentally friendly, tangible business development, instead more sport venues. We have a host of sport venues already that are truly not meeting the needs of our communities as a whole.

Keep in mind that this bill does not only contain funding toward a feasibility study, but also allows the purchase of land by MD Park and Planning to propose PG tax dollars to be spent on the construction of a new Park & Planning office building, of which we must pay to maintain as well, including the building that Park and Planning is proposing to move out of.

The soccer stadium is not smart growth business development, especially now.

The liability of the cost in construction rested totally on the laps of Prince George's County Residents (we pay local and state tax).

At the moment, commercial businesses either closing down completely, or laying off employees to maintain stability.

DC United owes it to their fan base to provide higher levels funding toward a new facility; that's only fair. The owners DO have the resources to do this for thier soccer fans and are choosing not to provide it for whatever reason.

Posted by: PGCResident1 | April 10, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

PGCResident1,

The problem with everything you state is the overwhelming sentiment within the PG County citizens was against the soccer stadium. I doubt very seriously if it would have passed even if the owners put up 100% of the money. If you look at the other thread, that very question was asked of the PG bloggers and their answers were a resounding no. The stadium will not get done unless it is located in an area where the residents are more soccer friendly.

Posted by: blackandred777 | April 10, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the soccer community notion. I believe that this will go down in MD and it will be in a community that historically supports soccer. In such a community there will be plenty of proponents to counter the opponents. That wasn't the case in Prince George's where it was overwhelmingly populated with opposition.

Posted by: Gambrills4 | April 10, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

I can't read through everyone's posts, but for me, if United leaves the area, I will turn my back on MLS and walk away for good. I will not spend another dime on MLS, and I will attempt to influence my children to do the same.

The league, the club, and its owners can take that however they like.

Posted by: TCompton | April 10, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Dear PGC resident,

1) States commonly utilize their line of credit to partner in big ticket development projects. For instance, National Harbor was built through County financing. the request was nothing unusual.

2) use of this financing mechanism will not lower a state's bond rating (unless they default).

3) precisely because of the economic situation is why utilizing the lower interest rates that go with bond flotation is attractive. it lowers costs. as long as revenue streams are created to cover the float it wont actually cost anything.

4) i don't know the financial situation of the owners but my impression is that they do not have the boundless liquid assets you believe (and i should point out that we aren't talking about a sports team that pays millions of dollars in salary).

5) this sort of development is actually a smart business decision right now since completely private development has virtually dried up and would increase both the tax base and long term desirability of an area with severe perception problems.

6) for years PG residents have complained about the lack of economic development and specifically attraction type of development. it is no coincidence that purple line discussions currently stop at college park. reaching out to a business and then pulling the rug out from under them after they agree will have long term consequences. what business would want to invest in partnership with a county that goes back on its word in such a public fashion?

7) by voting against a study to determine whether the proposed revenue stream will be enough the county council has shown that this is not a business decision. the study was the key to determining whether or not this was a sound financial decision. no study no ability to argue that it's a business decision.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | April 10, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

PGCResident1,

Whether i agree with the following or not, the statement below from a business executive does not bode well for the county's reputation luring business to the community:

"I am both confused and shocked by what took place in Prince George's County. I am confused because the county very formally reached out to the team to see if they would engage in discussions about moving the team to the area. [United] dropped everything in D.C. and began negotiations, had a press conference and talked about their mutual desire to pursue the concept. And then I read that the council won't even support a bill with the state to look at the project. I certainly hope other businesses that are interested in bringing jobs and economic development to that county have a better experience with them than we did. It's not something I have ever experienced in any other city I have worked in in this country, and for the last 10 years, I have been personally involved with 10 stadium projects and this region of the country has been the single most-difficult area to try to get something finalized. It has me very concerned."

Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber

Posted by: blackandred777 | April 10, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

PGCResident1:

What you're saying assumes the following facts:

1. Any stadium deal would lead automatically to PG's credit dropping "severely". This drop comes, in your argument, without explanation. It just occurs.
2. DCU's contribution of 25% to the construction = 0%, leaving "the liability of the cost in construction" on taxpayers. Last time I checked, 25% and 0% were not equivalent amounts. I have a feeling that, if that's become true, we need to reconsider our entire numerical system.
3. PG's bonds to cover 75% of the costs (or 100%, if I'm sticking with your argument) were to be paid by tax revenues generated at the stadium. If John Q. Taxpayer of Bowie didn't attend any games, he wouldn't pay any of the taxes (on tickets, concessions, parking, etc).

This is one of the more upsetting things about this: anti-stadium people make things up or leave out undeniable facts to bolster their point. We've encountered this in DC (Fisher, Nakamura, etc) and now in PG. If I adhered to these standards of logic, I could claim that building a stadium for DC United will result in the county receiving $5 billion dollars in liquid assets instantly. You might ask me "From whom? How?" Apparently, I don't need to answer those questions. I can just say words, and if I believe them, they're true.

Look, your county kicked us to the curb in a particularly harsh fashion. You got what you wanted. And you're right about one thing: the contribution from our ownership is apparently not enough (whether it's 25%, as has been said repeatedly, or 0% as you assert).

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | April 10, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Now that Garber has finally decided to publically include himself in this situation, I'm not sure how much weight it carries at this point. It seems to me that only a few weeks ago, he made it clear to AC Milan that they needed to make a legitament offer to retain Mr. Beckam by the deadline of "the end of the week" or there was going to be no deal. Funny, I don't seem to recall Davey Boy wearing an Herbalife jersey with the #23 on it recently.
My point is, although his statement makes our situation look bleak, all is not lost, and we still have some time. Maybe this is the kind of national attention we need to make those, who may be in a position to help, aware of the need for such measures.
All we can do as fans is try to get the word out and hope that someone listens before we run out of time.

Posted by: Jaywag86 | April 10, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

#3 from me was supposed to be deleted, but I left it in on accident. More fun with logic: leaving out that #3 would have, instantly and inexplicably, given me enough money to buy DC United and build 3 stadia. Nuts!

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | April 10, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Jaywag86,

National attention? Heck, I would be happy if it would just get some attention from the WP's editors. There's still not one link to this story on wp.com/sports. However, there is a nice fluff piece about a Freedom player.

Posted by: blackandred777 | April 10, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | April 10, 2009 4:23 PM

1. Any stadium deal would lead automatically to PG's credit dropping "severely". This drop comes, in your argument, without explanation. It just occurs.

PGCResident1 response: Construction cost is ESTIMATED $175-$195M (75%) is a severe credit rating drop when your speaking about the value of government issued bonds. Prince George's County is AAA bond rating at this time. This level of credit being unavailable would severely impact our bond rating during the present condition of the economy.


Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | April 10, 2009 4:23 PM

2. DCU's contribution of 25% to the construction = 0%, leaving "the liability of the cost in construction" on taxpayers. Last time I checked, 25% and 0% were not equivalent amounts. I have a feeling that, if that's become true, we need to reconsider our entire numerical system

PGCResident1: DC United's 25% of the proposed cost toward construction was their rent payment toward the facility during the soccer season. i.e. $0 initial out of pocket cost toward the stadium construction.


This was a bad business deal and it only benefited DC United owners wallets, financially speaking.

Prince George's County didn't kick DC United Fans nor the team to the curb....DC United Owners continues to do this to their fan base...not the residents or mayor of DC, PGC County or MD state government.

It's apparant that the structure of the deal that DC United continues to propose may not be affordable to certain municipalities.

DC United owners are letting thier fans down and that's unfortunate. DC United Fans may want to do PR directly toward the owners and demand that they step up and finance the BUILDING of a soccer stadium for their fans.

One would hope the passion the fans demonstrate to this franchise should be honored and you all do deserve a decent venue for DC United Fans to enjoy. Demand that they build one for you.

They have more control of what they provide their fans then anyone else.

Loyalty "should" begin at home.

Posted by: PGCResident1 | April 10, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

It's amusing to read about the MLS commish playing the extortion card. When "major" sports do it, it's despicable. When the MLS tries it, it's laughable.

And I really love this part: "They look at what has been done for hockey, basketball, baseball and football, and believe that D.C. United has earned the right to be able to sit with public officials and engage in a productive discussion that will hopefully lead to a deal."

One little problem: DC's hockey, basketball and football stadiums were built with minimal public support. It really is time that all communities treat all sports the same way. They can all afford to build their own stadiums. They just don't want it to become a regular piece of their cost of doing business.

Posted by: km352 | April 10, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

PGCResident1,

Whether i agree with the following or not, the statement below from a business executive does not bode well for the county's reputation luring business to the community:

"I am both confused and shocked by what took place in Prince George's County. I am confused because the county very formally reached out to the team to see if they would engage in discussions about moving the team to the area. [United] dropped everything in D.C. and began negotiations, had a press conference and talked about their mutual desire to pursue the concept. And then I read that the council won't even support a bill with the state to look at the project. I certainly hope other businesses that are interested in bringing jobs and economic development to that county have a better experience with them than we did. It's not something I have ever experienced in any other city I have worked in in this country, and for the last 10 years, I have been personally involved with 10 stadium projects and this region of the country has been the single most-difficult area to try to get something finalized. It has me very concerned."

Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber

Posted by: blackandred777 | April 10, 2009 4:21 PM

_____________________

Hey blackandred777! How are ya?!

Buisnessmen make statements all the time, negative ones when things don't fall into place as they would like.

Bad PR move on his part, IMO. What Dan Garbor should have said, "DC UNITED and their Fans DESERVES every single penny that I can find or provide to build a stadium to assure continuity of this wonderful soccer team" "I will not rest until MLS provides financial resources to this invaluable team"

His statement reflected taking DC United away from their fans and locating them somewhere else. Now is that loyalty to the fan base? Does he care DC United or the fan base? Doesn't seem like it.

No...all he seems to care about are profit margins, as most buisnessmen typically do.

Posted by: PGCResident1 | April 10, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

PGC resident's comment about profit shows how poorly DCU has played the perception game. of course the regular fans know that the stadium push is about more then just being able to break even it's also about safety (rfk is literally falling apart) and being able to provide services that rfk is not (dc stadium authority wont even make basic improvements).

by framing a new stadium almost solely in financial terms it plays into big sports perceptions (and visions of the Danny and baseball dance in our heads).

oh well, maybe when somebody dies or gets seriously injured at rfk they can sue DC and use the settlement money to build a stadium.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | April 10, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

... which is why that statement is so damaging to future business deals in the county.

I hate to be snarky, but I'm in a snarky mood. Good luck ever getting that "high end retail" in your county ever with that kind of opaque transparent business environment. Back when I lived in the county, I always drove over hear to Montgomery County to do any shopping other than IKEA. I heard my neighbors (most were long-time county residents) always complaining about businesses always passed over Prince George's for "high end retail." Between the fact that the county has not done anything like Bethesda or even Wheaton (PG Plaza is a decent start but still just a very embryonic state) and its shady business deals, I can see why businesses steer clear, despite the income levels being high enough.

Posted by: Cavan9 | April 10, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

PGCResident1 response: Construction cost is ESTIMATED $175-$195M (75%) is a severe credit rating drop when your speaking about the value of government issued bonds. Prince George's County is AAA bond rating at this time. This level of credit being unavailable would severely impact our bond rating during the present condition of the economy.

Posted by: PGCResident1 | April 10, 2009 4:58 PM
-----------------------------------------

what? no it wouldn't. that's absurd. a bond rating is related to the safety of the bond (ie: the ability of the bond issuer to pay reliably and on time). if the revenue projections were right (or close to right) this project would have actually helped maintain the bond rating.

using credit doesnt hurt the rating, the potential for defaulting does. much in the same way that using a credit card (and paying it on time) does more to help your credit score then not using a credit card. as long as the revenue projections were close to correct then issuing the bonds and successfully paying the interest would have helped PG's financial credibility (ie: bond rating).

then there's the fact that in the current economic climate municipal bonds (like those that were proposed) are attractiveto investors and would have been successful.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | April 10, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

PindarPushkin...

Last I checked credit was frozen, limited or very conservative regarding usage. Of course high or proposed yield of usage does effect credit levels/ratings and does effect credit worthiness (value) and score levels/ratings.

Whether we agree or not is not important.

What is important is the enquity (imbalance) of the deal. The numbers (or percentages) do not change regarding regarding front end funding toward construction of the facility.l
The conservative method of PGC's issuance, selling, or usage of the municipak bonds supports the AAA rating that many counties cannot claim to have.

If this were such a great deal...the level of difficulty solidifying the same would have either already occurred or seeking another venue not challenging.

What seems to be happening is DC United getting the fans upset over what they have 100% control over remedying.

Posted by: PGCResident1 | April 10, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse

PGCResident1,

I believe the portion from PGC bonds was expected to be around 47M, not the ESTIMATED $175-$195M (75%) that you claim.

Posted by: DCUfan14 | April 10, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Municipal Bonds are not created like private credit. there is not a set limit like on a credit card. debt in the form of bonds are issued and investors bid/buy them sort of like stocks. the higher the bond rating the more people are willing to pay and therefore the lower the interest rate the municipality needs to offer to attract buyers. right now municipal bonds are hot because they are safe. now is the exact time PG needs to take advantage of their bond rating to spur development because there are lots of potential buyers. as long as the revenue projections were close to accurate it was a good and sound investment and the exact type of perception changing development PG needs.

but the deal is dead. im just pointing out that your financial argument (assuming the projections would have worked out - which we'll never know because you guys voted against studying them) is false. this died for political/perception reasons not economic ones.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | April 10, 2009 8:13 PM | Report abuse

oh and btw: PGC issued $50million in bonds for the expansion of the national harbor hotel. so the amount was actually comparatively not that much and the decision obviously not based on economic reasons.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | April 10, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

DCUfan14

$47M was a conservative estimate cost for the land purchase. Cost for construction of the venue was estimated $175-$195M.

Posted by: PGCResident1 | April 10, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Municipal Bonds are not created like private credit. there is not a set limit like on a credit card. debt in the form of bonds are issued and investors bid/buy them sort of like stocks. the higher the bond rating the more people are willing to pay and therefore the lower the interest rate the municipality needs to offer to attract buyers. right now municipal bonds are hot because they are safe. now is the exact time PG needs to take advantage of their bond rating to spur development because there are lots of potential buyers. as long as the revenue projections were close to accurate it was a good and sound investment and the exact type of perception changing development PG needs.

but the deal is dead. im just pointing out that your financial argument (assuming the projections would have worked out - which we'll never know because you guys voted against studying them) is false. this died for political/perception reasons not economic ones.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | April 10, 2009 8:13 PM

_______________________

oh and btw: PGC issued $50million in bonds for the expansion of the national harbor hotel. so the amount was actually comparatively not that much and the decision obviously not based on economic reasons.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | April 10, 2009 8:15 PM


You are absolutely correct. The issue is not the solidarity of the bond issuance. The issue is what the bonds are being solidified toward and the timeline it would take to recover value to include interest rate fluctuations during the projected timeline to reach whole value.

Historically speaking regarding sport venues, this does not occur and why the cost of doing business does include projection cost of venue settings (provisions) by private owners that own sports teams. They typically whole fund their venues, but only if fan base covers cost of structure. Maintenance/security cost is typically negotiatied locally.

In addition, the soccer stadium was not proposed as a multi-use venue, only for soccer games which is the norm. regarding sport venues historically.


Re National Harbor, a great deal of private funding was fused toward development. PG County does have an interest in the project but it was primarily funded via private investors. The National Harbor project has been a "vision" for at least 10-15 years. It was a failed project many times over before actual development occurred. National Harbor occurred due to primarily private funding and the cost is absolutely no comparison, with a soccer stadium. The diverse use (year-round) and different levels of marketability/attraction. Prince George's county residents supported the structure but the real return is still on the horizon due to the current economic climate.

Nobody that does proper business would take on this level of liability without solid numbers and a balance front end investment.


Posted by: PGCResident1 | April 10, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

I demand DC United to take back all those expensive shirts, scarves, hats given to PG County crooks at the so called press conference to bolster their image on the disgrace local communities. Those are expensive. We pay over $100 per shirt, why does the team has to waste money?

Posted by: DCUnitedFootball | April 10, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

PGCResident1,

PG County was not expected to issue bonds for the entire cost of construction. In fact, the original deal didn't require any contribution from PGC.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/10/AR2009031003258.html?hpid=moreheadlines

You claimed that the dollar amount involved is a risk to PGC's bond rating. I'm simply clarifying the amount involved.

Posted by: DCUfan14 | April 10, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

DCU's investment was balanced with PGC's. the original breakdown was 25% DCU 75% MD. the MD portion was in the form of financing which was to be paid via a tax on event tickets and projected tax revenue from surrounding development. the MD state house then asked that PG float some of the bonds themselves (paid back in the same manner - no idea about the logistics of that since it never got that far). the last proposed breakdown was 25% DCU (upfront) 25% PG (municipal bonds) 50% MD (bonds).

assuming the projections were accurate final cost would have been born by DCU 25%, DCU (lacrosse, concert and other umd events) fans X% and new development X%.

but once again, since there was no study and it never got to the specifics level we cannot say whether the projection were off or whether this was a good deal for PG.

at this point the only thing we have learned from this debacle is not to do business with PG County. because no matter what they tell you or promise you they will go back on it, harm your ability to work with other jurisdictions, waste your time and sell you out for the smallest bit of short term political grandstanding.

considering the long term perception problems PG has I would have thought they'd be more understanding of the perception problems with soccer and understand that perception is not reality.

considering the long term problems PG has had attracting long term development that increases desirability i would have thought theyd have been a bit more concerned with gaining the perception of becoming a poor and untrustworthy business partner.

and btw: National Harbor is gonna fail because it is not on the metro and is not enough of a draw to makeup the perception problems with PG.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | April 10, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

PindarPushkin

we can debate this all...night...long...but I'm not going to. what you you've is not written within the proposal...lacrosse, concerts, umd events?? where is this written and what costs are associated with these probabilities (that are not within proposal in Annapolis)?

Let us not forget about PG residents paying for developement Park and Planning building as well.

we can agree to disagree...but more then likely the soccer stadium will not occur under the current proposal...as you said it's a dead issue and will only become viable if the owners are willing to fund the passion if their fan base, as mostly done with surrounding sport venue owners.

Solution: stand up to the owners as agressively as you do with a resident and demand they fund to build a soccer stadium. Wishing negative community resources and outcome relating to the same to support my community will opportune a soccer stadium.

The bottom line is this...

What is so very unfortunate is what is being forgotten is fair (or at least) lucrative business practice dealings. If a business proposal does not sound lucrative at the gate, why spend money proving the same with a study?

If it were that valuable business venture...it would have been picked up by a jurisdiction WAY before dialogue occurring with MD representatives. Feasibility studies occur but business negotiations are done way before supporting the reasoning for solidification of a feasibility study.

Their isn't even a fan base within the local jurisdiction to justify the venture. So the personal malice is
what is really unfortunate because personal feelings are clouding sound business judgment.

It is very sad that emotions take place of sound business.

One thing for sure...Prince George's County Maryland is the wealthiest African American County since 1995 in the nation with a AAA bond rating...we must be doing something right and will continue to be just that...alright with or without a soccer stadium.

Just as many claim failure of my community...there are thousands of us that rebuke the same so at the end of the day, that's all that matters.

Posted by: PGCResident1 | April 10, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse

my apologies...a few typos in my post, but one I need to correct:

Wishing negative community resources and outcome relating to the same to support my community will NOT opportune a soccer stadium.

Posted by: PGCResident1 | April 10, 2009 10:16 PM | Report abuse

there was only potential liability if the revenue projections were off. since they voted against the study that would have done the detailed look at the projections you cannot claim there was liability. it's as simple as that. PG voted against the very study that would have proven or disproven your argument leaving us with only one set of numbers.

according to those numbers, there was no liability and PG turned down $65-80 million in annual economic impact (post construction) and $300 million during the construction period.

national harbor was originally projected to cost $2 billion and bring in $130 million annualy. costs havge since swelled to over $4billion (not including the hundreds of millions MD pitched in for infrastructure improvements).

in the past 4 years PGC has issued $250 million in bonds for the project (which btw did not meet promises to PG regarding use of local firms). that's just PG's contribution, i'd bet big money that the state pitched in quite a bit of financing as well.

btw; what kind of moron builds a $4 billion development without good public transit.

the most important issue for PG in the long run will be expansion of mass transit. MoCo and Fairfax are both taking the steps they need to with the purple and silver lines. PG needs the purple line to continue from College Park all the way to National Harbor. but unless there is real development in largo/morgan blvd there will be no reason for MD to do that. A DCU stadium (and the urban style development they were going to build around it) was the long term opportunity needed.

but in the end the story is the same cheap short term political points (both in PG and Poplar Point) without consideration of the long term win out. im just disappointed that PG (with its history) did the same to DCU that is usually done to it.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | April 10, 2009 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Im not wishing harm to PG, im just pointing out there are massive perception issues. national harbor could be a wonderful development, but its lack of mass transit accessibility is a deal breaker for most of the region. unless it gets that transit it will never be really successful or an engine of surrounding growth. the same is true with a DCU stadium.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | April 10, 2009 10:29 PM | Report abuse

PGCResident1,

I'm well, How are you? I didn't think we would be doing this anymore now that the PG deal is done. Have a happy holiday PGC

Posted by: blackandred777 | April 10, 2009 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Holy smokes! You guys must have carpal tunnel by now. Happy holiday everyone.

Posted by: croftonpost | April 11, 2009 2:49 AM | Report abuse

Good grief...
Vamos United!!!

Posted by: DadRyan | April 11, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I say Fenty is one of the worst mayors as DC has ever had. What do you expect from a guy whose only experience with sports is Cross Country running...He has no vision or talent, unlike Marion Barry or Anthony Williams for that matter..He is a power drunk midget who like Sharon Pratt Kelly, will let another D.C. team leave the city, and potentially the region...If that should happen, Fenty should be held personally responsible...

Posted by: alan19 | April 11, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

DC United wanted Marylanders and Prince George's taxpayers to pay the full freight so they could walk off with the profits.
State $90 million; PG - $51 million - 75% taxpayer funded / 25% $49 million in imaginery revenues from DC United. DC United is owned by billionaire venture capitalists (raising money for investment is what they do for a living). If a $195 million stadium will offer such great returns, why can't they find private investors to fund the deal? We all know the answer!

Posted by: robinsonawjr | April 11, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

As a Maryland taxpayer paying some of the highest taxes the country, I don't want to pay for stadiums. If they try to make a deal with Montgomery or Frederick, I will lobby legislators to turn it down. When I testified on HB1282 (PG stadium), I told legislators that was Maryland's AIG. We got all the expense, all of the liability, and nothing returned to taxpayers. You can move the team to China, I don't care - maybe they're willing to pay for it, I'm not!

Posted by: robinsonawjr | April 11, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

I'm tired of soccer fans calling Prince Georgians stupid. Quite obviously, we know a bad deal when we see it!

DC United was bought from the the 31st wealthiest persons in the world, Phil Anschutz's whose operations span many industries, including theaters, railroads, sports teams and oil. Let Mr. Anschutz or the League, if they own 51%, invest their money instead of my 83 year old neighbor trying to stay in her home.

You don't understand the deal: DC United were trying to stick Maryland and PG with the bill. It didn't work! Hurrah for the smart people who live in PG!

Posted by: robinsonawjr | April 11, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Your hated and bias is clear. You don't care whether it's a good business deal or not. Pure and simple.

Posted by: DCUnitedFootball | April 11, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Bonds are like buying a home, getting credit cards; You pay principal + interest over xx number of months, years. Every bond PG and Maryland floats for stadiums reduces our ability to float bonds at good rates for building libraries, schools, fire stations, police stations, etc. Every thing you borrow has a cost to your credit and at some point it begins to cost you more and you can borrow less, because you are overextended.Duh! I want libraries, not stadiums.

Posted by: robinsonawjr | April 11, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

To DC United Football. I have lived in PG for 45 years. I have amended the Charter twice through civic activism. I have worked to better my community and was at one time in business for myself. I do understand 100% of the liability; bad attendance numbers to base revenue to pay bonds on (24,000), and only 1 feasibility study done by the entity that would make the deal, Maryland Stadium Authority. The numbers used by DC United and the Stadium Authority for this deal are not accurate. DC United says that the stadium will bring ancillary development revenue (around it) of $65million to $85 million a year. That is a blatant lie and if you do some research about development around stadiums and revenue produced, you will find it out.

Posted by: robinsonawjr | April 11, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

See Mercury News Article of what happens when economy bad and who pays - San Joe out to tell them to walk!:

In bid to preserve soccer stadium plan, San Jose agrees to revise land deal
By Denis C. Theriault

Mercury News

Posted: 04/06/2009 07:18:06 PM PDT
Updated: 04/07/2009 09:53:35 AM PDT

City officials have agreed to shave more than $40 million off.................

Did San Jose make the right decision? Hoping to speed along a San Jose Earthquakes soccer stadium threatened by the cratering economy, city officials have agreed to shave more than $40 million off a land deal signed last year with team owner Lew Wolff and his partners.

Instead of paying as much as $132 million for the full 75-acre site, the developers would now pay just $89 million for 65 acres of the site. The city purchased the entire site in 2005 for $81 million, thinking it was needed for airport expansion. Needed improvements and other costs brought the city's total price tag to $100 million.

Without the revised deal, which the City Council must formally approve next month, the developers had warned the city they would consider walking away from the stadium project.

Posted by: robinsonawjr | April 11, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

SOURCE: FIELD OF SCHEMES - LINK BELOW - PG COUNTY EXECUTIVE JACK JOHNSON SAYS, "I DON'T THINK IT'S GOING TO CREATE A LOT OF REVENUE! I rest my case, even the county executive knew it wouldn't create revenue for Prince Georgians.

February 19, 2009

P.G. official: Soccer stadium won't bring revenue, build it anyway

D.C. United's plan for a $180 million-or-so stadium in Prince George's County, Maryland, is panned today by Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher, who calls it "a sweet deal for United, a feel-good boost for the beleaguered county and a financial loser for Maryland taxpayers."

Fisher's source? That'd be none other than Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson, who defended the deal by saying, "I don't think it's going to create a lot of revenue." The reason taxpayers should put up three-quarters of the cost of a soccer stadium, he told radio station WAMU, is "public interest" and "public benefit."

http://www.fieldofschemes.com/news/archives/2009/02/3544_pg_official_soc.html

Posted by: robinsonawjr | April 11, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

... and you're getting neither. Your county will get nothing without significant expense ever again. National Harbor came with great subsidy from the county. Once that fails due to lack of transit accessibility, your county won't get anything other than McMansions and strip malls for decades. And the sad thing is that McMansions and strip malls already don't generate enough revenue to cover the infrastructure costs they generate.

I personally am not upset at the Prince George's County leadership for the outcome per se. (though as a fan I don't want to see my team leave the region) It's how it happened, with all the grandstanding then grandstanding against evil soccer fans. None of this had anything to do with any sort of economic or fiscal issues. It was just cheap local political grandstanding through and through. The fact that the county council voted against even studying economic impacts is more telling than anything anyone could ever say about the matter.

Posted by: Cavan9 | April 11, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

bonds for a stadium with a dedicated revenue stream are far more desirable and better financially for a municipality then bonds for a library. libraries dont come with revenue stream. to pay the interest you have to raise income/business taxes. to pay the interest on bonds for a stadium you have an event tax which is born by the users.

this was not a choice between libraries and a stadium. this was not about having the county pay for a stadium. in fact, the "payment" the county was paying was in effect a loan that was to be covered by user fees.

in the end now, pg county will get neither libraries nor an increased tax base and economic development.

please stop the political grandstanding and stop being such a poor sport.

we get it, you think soccer sucks and MLS is comparable to MLB and the NFL.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | April 11, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

robinsonawjr,

The deal in PG fell through for political reasons, not economic ones. It was a case of politicians trying to save their skin pure and simple. The fact that they had no interest in conducting a study tells everyone everything they need to know.

If the next attempt is in MD and I believe it will be, then it will not be in a community that detests soccer. It will be in a community that supports soccer and supports it strongly. The next time the local politicians will not be worried about PG citizens that are against it. They will be far more worried about their local citizens that support it. Further, this whole stadium relocation possibilty is going to strongly mobilize the DC United fanbase and I suspect you will see very scary proponent numbers next time not the meager quiet group you didn't have to worry about the first time around. Lastly, I further suspect public sentiment will be on the proponents side because even casual sports fans won't want to see the team moved. We will not go quietly into that good night. Count on it!

Posted by: croftonpost | April 11, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

This is an editorial from the Baltimore Sun that I thought everyone might enjoy. Honestly, the comparisons to the Caps is shortsighted and inaccurate but the rest is dead on. However, DC United does outdraw the Georgetown Hoyas with a similar number of dates.

"A tale of two sports venues

Where's the love for soccer? It's one thing to be skeptical about taxpayer subsidies for a professional soccer stadium in Prince George's County or elsewhere, but to oppose merely investigating the costs and benefits? Yet that's the position taken this week by the Prince George's County Council and it's a sharp contrast to Gov. Martin O'Malley's willingness to seek eminent domain authority, an action that could allow the state to acquire Pimlico and Laurel race facilities at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.
Let's look at this from a business standpoint. Which sport do you think offers the best growth potential in the 21st century? If you said racing, better take a second look. Thoroughbred racing has been in gradual decline for years with fewer racing dates, a shrinking number of tracks, lower attendance, and perhaps most importantly, a smaller share of the U.S. gambling dollar.

Admittedly, professional soccer has never been a top attraction in the U.S., at least not compared to how it's received in the rest of the world. But that's gradually changing. The DC United games boast better home attendance than the Washington Capitals. Major League Soccer teams have developed five soccer-only stadiums around the country and more are reportedly in the works.

So while it's fair to raise questions about how much public money should be invested in a soccer facility, the proposal ought to be at least investigated. Even if Prince George's County wants no part of it, the potential benefits of soccer are too intriguing to be summarily dismissed."


Posted by: croftonpost | April 11, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

I'm coming to the conclusion that DC United will be moved out of the area. Why build a stadium in PG County anyway? Its pretty much the toilet of the metro area anyway.

Posted by: ata_dizdar | April 12, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

As a soccer fan from Saint Louis, I would love to see United move here. Take my advice DC fans, do not turn your back on Don Garber. He will twist that knife in you as fast as he can. You can not believe a word that comes out of his mouth. If somebody from Montreal or Saint Louis slips him a few dollars under the table, DC United will be on the move. DON GARBER IS THE VERY DEFINITION OF A SNAKE IN THE GRASS!!!!

Posted by: michaelgoggins | April 14, 2009 2:08 AM | Report abuse

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