MLS: New stadiums already? Slow down

A hypothetical City Council meeting in Expansionville, 2014.

MLS MAN: Greetings! I represent the local owner-investors who are ready to plunk down $80 million in expansion fees to bring Major League Soccer to Expansionville!

COUNCILPERSON 1: Sounds good. Should boost the economy. And I’d love to see Landon Donovan here — what a great comeback he made last year. But how much do you need for a stadium?

MLS MAN: Here’s more good news — we’re willing to spend $150 million to build it. All we need is $20 million for infrastructure improvements in the area.

COUNCILPERSON 2: That sounds like half the cost of Columbus Crew Stadium in its entirety.

MLS MAN: Ummm … yeah. You’ve done some research. But this will be an investment in the future.

COUNCILPERSON 2: And they’re already talking about replacing Columbus Crew Stadium.

MLS MAN: True. But Crew Stadium didn’t have luxury boxes.

COUNCILPERSON 3: I ain’t putting my tax money for some millionaire owner for his fancy kickball stadium!

COUNCILPERSON 2: Uh … right. Anyway, getting back to Crew Stadium — so now, the problem is that they don’t have luxury boxes.

MLS MAN: And they can’t sell naming rights.

COUNCILPERSON 2: So? Neither can FC Dallas. And a bunch of MLS jersey deals are expiring without replacements.

MLS MAN: Well … yeah. Anyway, we’ll have luxury boxes.

COUNCILPERSON 1: But in 15 years, will you want more?

MLS MAN: Perhaps. But we can talk about how to upgrade it.

(blank stares)

COUNCILPERSON 2: So this location …

MLS MAN: Oh yes — outskirts of town, vacant land, just needs the infrastructure upgrades.

COUNCILPERSON 4: Aren’t most recent MLS stadiums easily accessible by mass transit?

MLS MAN: Well, some, yeah.

COUNCILPERSON 5: Hey, why doesn’t Columbus just rip off the upper section and build boxes? It’s not like anyone ever sits up there, anyway.

COUNCILPERSON 2: Yeah, seriously. But back to our question: Are you going to come back in 15 years and ask us to help you build a new stadium on a train line?

PROTESTER IN CROWD: More like five years!

COUNCILPERSON 1: Excuse me, sir, we’ll have a public comment period on this project next week.

PROTESTER IN CROWD: Money for park! Not for Clark! Money for park! Not for Clark!

COUNCILPERSON 1: Clark?

PROTESTER IN CROWD: Ricardo Clark. Plays for the Houston Dynamos.

MLS MAN: Dynamo.

PROTESTER IN CROWD: Whatever?

COUNCILPERSON 1: Can we have him removed, please?

COUNCILPERSON 2: OK, back to the point … can you assure us that if we make this investment now, you’re not going to be asking us for more money for something new before we’ve all broken even on this deal?

MLS MAN: Uhhhhhh ….

And so Expansionville dropped out of consideration for MLS, leaving the league to consider a third New York team.

And no, I don’t want to imagine a D.C. council discussion along similar lines.

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