08 January 2007

The Press Conference

Start at 10:49AM: A series of introductions of various people who are attending, including DCSEC members, Natwar Gandhi (DC CFO), Christian Laettner, DC City Council (including Kwame Brown), and Garber, Homes-Norton, Payne, MacFarlane, Mayor Fenty, etc...

MLS Commisioner Garber: Back for the most "storied club in MLS History." He thanks to Adrian Fenty and Eleanor Holmes-Norton for representing the diverse community. "Games at RFK are among the best in professional sports." New stadium plans in place to make an even better environment. Record price paid for MLS team. Addition of MacFarlane, Chang, and Brian Davis is good addition, representing diversity and global reach. First African American and Asian American owners. Add Kevin Payne -- "the architect of the DC United brand" -- equals great ownership group. We have lots of new owners. New groups plus founders is a formula for success. Welcome to the MLS Family.

Adrian Fenty: District of Columbia is exited. "We appreciate winners in the District of Columbia." There is a growing awareness of soccer at all levels in DC. Congrats to new team. You have a great partner in residents and administration of District of Columbia. Let's have a round of applause for council members Barry, Evans, Gray, etc... Let's start this off with a bang: I know you are proud of diverse ownership group. It shows MLS is serious about diversity. Let me introduce Eleanor Holmes-Norton.

Eleanor Holmes Norton: Thanks to DC for returning DC to world class city status. We see Andrea...Adrian Fenty challenging the city to keep up with him. We not only have a major team, but a winning one. It is time the US showed the rest of the world how to play, and to do that you start in the nation's capital. There has never been a Washington team with the record of DC United. [She then commences with some trophy smack. Hah!] I had visions of DC United in my head to get land for a possible site for the team, that job isn't over yet. Must work with the Park Service to get the Secretary to transfer the deed. I'm working on it. Thanks to Josh Bolton, Chief of Staff to the President of the United States. Land transfer is with help with him as a partial payment for the structural imbalance of the Federal Government. Thanks to the team for being involved without waiting for new ownership. Thanks to former player Judah Cooks for stepping into Santa Claus role at the party for disadvantaged kids. A small, but to us, very large contribution.

We want out kids to know there are all kinds of sports out here. DC United is making soccer a real American game. They've already made it a DC game. We see that with the progress they made with Ward 8 kids. One of the major owners, indeed, the majority owner, is a African-American. For kids to see a team with African-American owners...sends a wonderful signal to kids that you can do other things with sports than play them, so stay in school. Pleasure to introduce the President and CEO...created the first ownership group for DC United...Kevin Payne has all that it takes to make our winning team, a team that has already won national and international awards, make it not only the pride of DC but the pride of the USA.

Kevin Payne: My thanks to AEG for supporting the team. Thanks to players... Steven Zack, Doug Hicks... we have the best staff and players. We also have the best fans in MLS. We have representatives of our fans. We are about Winning Championships and Serving the Community. Each are equally important. Sports teams have a chance to be influences for good, and a responsibility to reach out to children. Working with community is important.

When we started process of making new home in Ward 8, we visited with the community. First start with Marion Barry, our thanks to him, we look forward to being neighbors. We promised Marion Barry that our new ownership group would look like the District of Columbia. I will not speak further, this is a big day. I introduce the new chairman of the DC City council, Vincent Gray.

Vincent Gray: Let me add my congratulations to everyone. Most kids grew up with football, baseball, basketball. Soccer is a coming sport in this city, and you can play at all levels. This is a real seminal moment. In a city that is predominantly African American, it is nice to see a major team owned by African Americans.

In a part of the city that has almost been under siege... to have DC United to work with DC in Ward 8 has a real presence. To reach out into the community with little fanfare is a real statement about the commitment of the people that run this franchise. I look forward to working with the new owners on the new stadium.

Victor MacFarlane: Thanks to everyone. It is a true honor to have the district's leadership join us today. "On behalf of my partners in DC United Holdings..." [Sweet!] [Victor gets with the trophy smack as well. Good.] Thanks to the players that are here: Olsen, Moreno, Mediate, McTavish, J. Carroll, Clyde Simms. Best fan base in the league. This is a team...we are proud to own. We will continue to give back to the community through United for DC. We are committed to devoting the resources to maintain the city in DC. We are proud to be the first African-American owned MLS team. Soccer is the #1 sport for people of color in DC. We hope to make soccer the first sport for African-American children in DC. We will build an all-conditions field in Ward 8, in partnership with Adidas (?), and work with Marion Barry to locate it in Ward 8. My son trained at IMG Academies, but is not as talented as Freddy.

Our ownership group is international. Will Chang is Chinese/Japenese American, and part owner of the San Francisco giants. I've gotten to know Brian [Davis] well. John Hendricks is planning to join us as partners. My thanks to AEG. I want to acknowledge the support of Kevin Payne, who will remain President and CEO of DC United. We have hired Tommy Soehn.

Did you know that DC United has a larger average gameday attendance is larger than the Wizards and the Capitals? ... In the area, there are 600,000 registered players, making it the third largest soccer city in America. We will promote the game to African-American children and people of color. I am living the American dream...

United for DC will continue to reach out to youth through mentoring programs. We currently sponsor 400 children for gameday experiences. At Aetna, I worked on the JW Marriot project, and I have worked on many projects in the district. My daughter attends college in Virginia, and my son hopes to as well.

Our best investment was not just buying any team, but the premier team DC United in the premier host city.

Welcome Brian Davis

Brian Davis: Thanks Victor... Victor is brilliant. I just want to thank people. [He thanks a ton of people] [I get pulled away... apparently they've gone to questions.]

Q (tom sherwood?): Is the mayor committed to the stadium? EHN: There is a process underway. The site will not only be a soccer team, but also 70 acres of developed parkland which isn't used even as a park. The team will bring this area alive. Follow-up: How will land be distributed? Award? Competitive Bidding?AF - That is to be decided

Q: How will stadium be financed AF - We haven't really discussed that yet. There are various proposals out there.

Q: (inaudible) A: No, we don't have a plan yet.

Q:(inaudible) A: Hope is that stadium will open in 2009

Q: The story seems to be more of a real-estate development deal. Will the resources be available to spend a few million dollars for a player acquisition. A: KP - The team is devoted to maintaining a championship team, and we will get the resources we need if it makes business sense. VmF - the team is expected to continue its success. We are interested in the team.

Q: (something about stadium) A: AF - We will get a stadium, but we need a proposal first. We will work with all stakeholders. We are at very introductory stages of developing a plan. We are here as a sign of support.

Q: Victor, what made you interested? A: VmF - DC United was available. My daughter moving to UVA, other work here. When DC united came available, it seemed like a logical step, and I took it.

Q: Mr. Mayor, you were critical of the baseball stadium... how will that affect you [Tom Sherwood again!] A: AF - We will be open to each proposal, and we'll look at every project differently, and this is a different project. Plus there's related deveopment. We've got a lot of work to do. This isn't a press conference on the stadium, it's a press conference on the new owners.

Q: Are there alternate sites for the stadium? A: VmF - The team needs a new stadium, and a new place to play.

Q: Do you have the same hopes for development as you did for the baseball stadium? A: VmF - We weren't the developer for the baseball stadium, just the capital. We will [have?] invested millions of dollars.

Q: Brian, did you ever play soccer? A: BD - I played when I was in France some.

Q: (inaudible) A: VmF - Kevin Payne will run the team

[Audio Cuts Out, comes back in]

VmF - We may buy a residence in the district.

Q: MLS has an odd single entity ownership structure. How do you feel about being involved in the league as a whole? A: VmF - It's a good structure. We are happy to work within it.

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At 08 January, 2007 14:13, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Q: The story seems to be more of a real-estate development deal. Will the resources be available to spend a few million dollars for a player acquisition.

Exactly. Are these people buying a soccer team with ancillary real estate development potential, or are they buying development rights for Poplar Point, with United as anchor tenant?

Which, for them, is the more important piece of this particular pie?

At 08 January, 2007 14:33, Blogger D said...

That is an important question. I'm optimistic that, for reasons I stated in the next post, they do understand that the team itself has value.

Now, the proof is, as they say, in the pudding. Provided that you have criminals disposing of evidence in pudding. Kinda stupid criminals. Like if Barry and LeVon went on a crime spree.


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