08 April 2009

Oh Give Me a Home

The news that United has lost its stadium suitor in PG County will no doubt be greeted with gnashing of teeth, a pre-millennial apocalyptic foreboding which, once descended, can not be lifted by any sort of rational thought. I can understand this frustration. United simply can not continue to pay the rent at RFK with MLS footing the bill, the other Investor/Operators/Owners-in-all-but-name won't simply let that continue. But, well, the absence of a good plan right now doesn't equate to doom and despair and St. Louis United. So when should we worry?

Quite simply, we worry when St. Louis or another non-expansion city announces they are putting a stadium deal on the table and backing it up with legislation. At that point, we can assume the back channel deals have gone down, the pieces are in position, the threat is real. While United can not stagnate in stadium limbo indefinately, MLS also can't risk alienating a reasonably faithful fanbase without a certain stadium deal in place somewhere else. In a way, expansion benefits United, as most potential locales are working with expansion groups for stadiums.

The other concern would, of course, be indications that Mr. MacFarlane intends to sell the team, perhaps to a consortium that thinks they can get a stadium deal together. Most believe V-Mac intended to use the United stadium deal as an entry point into a commercial real-estate development in the greater DC area, and I'm not sure he has an interest in real-estate development in, let's say, St. Louis. His focus is on this region. But he is, ultimately, a business man, and if this area is telling him "no deal that way" then we're a sunk cost, and he knows how to deal with sunk costs.

So, while I'm not concerned now, either of these developments would concern me. Significantly. And that's when I cover myself with a burlap sack and dust off my "THE END IS NEAR" sign.

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At 08 April, 2009 13:01, Anonymous Jeremy said...

I'm just trying to figure out if St. Louis is better or worse than an expanded Soccer Plex.

Not that the Plex is a real option with current ownership, since there is no possibility of any other combined development.

The whole situation just depresses me.

I need to restock my liquor cabinet.

At 08 April, 2009 16:48, Blogger Bob said...

I'm really stupid about wheelin' and dealin' and how politics influences things and all that, but does anyone know how VW influences things, if at all?

At 08 April, 2009 21:04, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to put this on ownership. It seemed to me AEG had put a lot of groundwork into the Poplar Point deal and was ready to front the stadium costs while telling the city they would be on the hook for 50 million or so. Then MacFarlane ups the ante and tells them they will need to cover $150 million and he reaps the benefits of the development rights. The Fenty people turn their backs so we go to PG and cut a deal with Jack Johnson who is known as a pretty slick character (i.e. not very reputable). We offer to build a stadium on their dime (yes I know it is a bond issue - but they borrow the money and pay for everything while we tell 'em the rent should cover them for their troubles). Just never sounded like a winning formula.

Maybe something can be worked out with RFK. Would hate to have to commute to St. Louis.

At 08 April, 2009 22:11, Anonymous Ben Olsen is the shit said...

I think that dc called the bluff and now united knows it. I doubt the mls is willing to risk losing its largest fanbase by moving to st. louis, and now knows that it will have to pay for the majority of poplar point. overall a stupid plan and a waste of everyone's time

At 09 April, 2009 13:08, Blogger rke said...

VA fans who didn't like the idea of an extra 10 minutes to PG would just LOVE an evening trip up I-270 to Germantown...

I don't see any of this article's suggestions (Germantown, Fairfax, Louden, etc.) as viable.

New negotiations with DC and/or PG are probably the next step, after some cooling-off.

But "negotiations" is the key. MacFarlane is a developer first, and will demand a plan that rewards his investment. Local governments need to show that they can make immediate improvements (jobs, etc.) as well as long-term profits, without undue risk.

But all sides need to spend considerable time and effort wooing the public. And DC United needs to be very visible in the public eye as a contributer to the community, reminding the public (not just the fans) that they are a desirable property.

Fair and equitable terms are a first step. But they'll still fail without public support. This is a marketing job.

At 09 April, 2009 18:37, Anonymous Bootsy said...

Today, Garber has now publicly said that the League is looking at moving the team.

Which is no surprise -- if they can't get a stadium built here, they don't have any other option but move the team or continue to lose money.

At 10 April, 2009 00:48, Blogger Land, Lord, and Wine said...

Going through some of my DCU vids that I've posted on YouTube...

I miss THIS team so badly


Was it really only a year ago that they played with this kind of passion?


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