22 May 2009

Good-bye Mr. MacFarlane, Congratulations Mr. Chang

The news that Mr. Will Chang has bought out Mr. Victor MacFarlane is, of course, being analyzed for any implication of stadium politics. That's healthy, and I can understand some people's optimism along those lines, but while a simplified stadium approach from Mr. Chang may make it easier, it may also make things more difficult. I'm not sure how this plays out. Yes, there's less of a specter of "look at that give-away of mixed use land to that rich guy" but there's also more of a question of "so what does this stadium actually do for the city/county/locality when it is built? What does it anchor? Why invest in any of this?"

If you had any hope of a more soccer-specific, less entertainment multipurpose stadium, you can shelve that right now, though to be honest, you probably should have shelved it a year or two ago. And by "you", I, of course, mean "me."

However, while I have the greatest regard for the engagement and enthusiasm of Mr. Chang, I am sad that United will no longer have an African-American majority owner. Perhaps we really all are post-racial now, and such concerns shouldn't bother me, but it felt good that MLS was able to be inclusive to the African-American community at the levels of players, coaching, and ownership without it having to be a major drama. And, the longer we go in professional sports in general, or MLS in particular, without African-American ownership, the more you sense the smell of cigars and leather chairs in the old boys room. We know that MacFarlane was in this primarily for the real-estate, and that is a fine motive for me, and that once that opportunity looked to dry up, he moved on. We know he wasn't forced out. But part of me mourns this passing anyway.

Yes, I realize that this is probably ridiculous nonsense, a sort of failed utopian vision of racial harmony, or perhaps the illusions thereof. And yes, I recognize that Mr. Chang, not to put too fine a point on it, is not exactly lily-white and that the Asian American community in D.C. is a vital constituency. So what am I missing then? I don't know, but I feel that something has passed on.

Still, to Mr. Chang, I congratulate you on your rise to majority ownership. You are a fan of the team, a man willing to dedicate your heart, your mind, and your hair to this club's success. Get us a stadium, and I could ask no more of you as an ideal owner. Good luck sir.

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At 22 May, 2009 10:25, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"so what does this stadium actually do for the city/county/locality when it is built? what does it anchor?"

I think the new, wonderful Chang news could actually lead to DCU getting a stadium. Remember when stadiums were just built in cities, not part of multi-use developments. What they did for localities was create positive traffic-- people coming into the area to buy stuff and do stuff-- life and livliness in other words. Even MCI center is an example of this. It wasn't anchoring anything. Build it then the development can come if its in the right place. My hope is for an inside the beltway, no-frills stadium with bouncing bleachers and seats close to the field. With a good bar next door. In DC or PG. (I live in Annapolis and anywhere else is really far...) I'm not sorry to see McFarlane go, mainly because his very legitemate interests did not fully align with my goal for the team-- a fricking stadium with or without add-ons. Chang seems to be there. Plus we now have an opportunity to add a celebrity investor to the mix. Poplar point redux?

Vamos United

At 22 May, 2009 12:12, Blogger rke said...

I'm with K here. And while I'm not sure what this means for the politics of getting a stadium built (a lower hurdle can't hurt), I do feel confident that the threat of moving DCU to another city has been greatly reduced.

At 22 May, 2009 15:02, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to see McFarlane go. He alienated Fenty and cozied up to Johnson. Not very deft political decisions. He made his money using other people's money (mainly CalPers who have since chosen not to bankroll him anymore) and that modus operandi seemed to rub everyone the wrong way around here.

Chang is a fresh start. Remains to be seen if Payne can shed his image as McFarlane's cheerleader with the local pols and effectively renew the task of finding a good space and a good investment approach for building a local stadium.

At 23 May, 2009 07:48, Anonymous Skippy said...

Now I have the sudden urge to find a cigar bar with leather chairs. Dammit, I can't afford that. Thanks a lot for the evocative imagery.


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