Thursday, May 10, 2007

MLS To Vegas? Hells Yes!

It was bound to happen. One of the unfortunate byproducts of David Beckham coming to the league is the amount of would-be investors, who know little about the game, popping up. In the past, MLS has taken the high road, claiming that expansion teams would only be awarded to ownership groups with a good business model and a plan to build an appropriate stadium.

However, that was before they had a lot of serious investors knocking on their door. Does the league office, made up almost exclusively of non-soccer guys, believe it's own hype? They already plan on charging much more for an expansion fee than the $10 million Toronto paid last year. Do they think that they are the reason the league is beginning to take off and all they need is some seed money from a handful of quick expansion fees to make soccer a major sport in the US? I hope not. There are many pitfalls in that approach, and I hope the bigwigs have the ability to turn down tens of millions of dollars to avoid the same trappings which doomed the NASL to failure.
(click title to read more)

However, my usual reaction didn't apply when I read this story. In short, they plan on building a retractable roof stadium somewhere near the Las Vegas strip, in conjunction with a casino, which would house a Las Vegas MLS franchise. I have no problem with this.



Other American sports don't want any part of Las Vegas. Gambling isn't accepted as a part of mainstream American culture. The owners in the other leagues won't let their colleague anywhere near the gambling, including owning horse tracks where you can't even bet on team sports. I'm not sure if this would be a problem given the single-entity nature of MLS's business model with our very own Bob Kraft, who also owns the Patriots. I doubt it, because he'd be separated from the operation of any casino built into a Las Vegas stadium. He may benefit from it's success, but not directly.

MLS commissioner Don Garber has no problem with Vegas, though. He seems all for the plan. The spokesman seems to be former US international Paul Caligiuri and Alan Rothenberg & son seem to be backing this effort. MLS would be the only professional sports team of note in a city that has been been adding permanent residents by the truckload as of late. It has the potential to represent the city well, if done right.

Besides, if you could only make one away trip a year, would it be to Las Vegas or Columbus? I thought so.

The league needs to careful when choosing expansion cities. If not, they will have rapid expansion, followed by huge losses when Beckham's star fades. They keep saying they will take a break from expanding at 16 teams. Besides the financial aspects, this is also a good idea because the US player pool just can't support a top flight league that has 32 teams, like the NFL has. I may go into this further in the future, but they should really think about building a second division in the next decade and then slowly economically promoting two provenly successful teams at a time. MLS needs to get a larger footprint in this country, but not at the expense of the league's financials or the quality of play.

In the meantime, they really need to get this deal done in Las Vegas. Dealer, I would like change for my tax return, please.

3 Comments:

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Anonymous said...

Regarding the stadium expanding their secirity unit to take the place of the Police. Myself I don't want a $9.00 an hour wannabe cop being responsable for the protection of my vehicle, or my family on those propeties. I would prefer quality over quantity anyday !