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Why soccer stadiums remain critical for MLS growth

May 11, 2012, 8:15 AM EDT

BBVA Compass

Everything you need to know about new soccer stadiums, about where they fit in the puzzle of pro soccer growth in this country, is right here. Dwayne De Rosario is talking about dedicated soccer stadiums, a place for clubs to dig in and call home.

 That’s what helped the league more than anything else. If you want to be taken seriously, you have to have your own stadium. It creates a culture, an environment. You can build history around it.”

De Rosario was talking to Brian Straus from the Sporting News. It’s a good piece that helps explain how Houston’s new $95 million facility happened – and why Dynamo officials got the most important stuff right.

I’ve long said that stadiums are absolutely, positively and unarguably the most important growth element for Major League Soccer and, by extension, professional soccer in the United States. Anybody paying attention has said the same.

As succinctly as possible, here’s why:

  • Clubs were always going to hemorrhage money as renters. Stadiums created revenue streams and opportunities that simply do not exist otherwise. Someone could teach on business class on the fiscal contrast of renting and owning.
  • Logos and jerseys are nice. But nothing beats a physical structure for establishing club identity.
  • In terms of establishing deeper community roots and being seen as an entity that will be around for a while, the stadium means everything. You know how you might treat a bunch of nice college kids who rent the house down the street? You are cordial, and hopefully vice versa. But at the end of the day, you figure they’ll be moving on. No need to invest much time in getting to know them, right?
  • Related, big media treats a club quite differently once the concrete, steel and high-impact plastic goes up. As De Rosario said, they take you more seriously. In most markets, anyway.
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