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MLS in Minnesota? Perhaps, but at what cost?

Oct 9, 2012, 5:05 PM EDT

Vikings stadium

I know all about the fantastic synergy between the NFL desks and the MLS desks of the Seattle sports empire. That is an ownership arrangement that clearly works, where an MLS team functions smoothly, never suffering from younger brother status next to NFL in the family.

But I also see the New England Revolution – and we all know how pro soccer in New England and formerly in New York has suffered as a result of shared arrangements.  At other places, too. Generally speaking, when NFL and MLS get partnered up in any way, shape or form, we know who calls the shots and who frequently must tolerate the inattention.

The NFL is king-daddy in domestic sports, so the deciders have every right to do as they please. Who could possibly argue with NFL success?

But!

Major League Soccer does have a say in this. The obvious choice here is not to be in league with NFL. The best chance for soccer’s top professional tier to protect itself here is by crossing the street to avoid any unnecessary interaction.

Specifically, MLS should decline overtures that would create any situation where an MLS club is just a place holder.

I just read a good interview in IMSoccer News with Lester Bagley, VP of Public Affairs and Stadium Development for the Minnesota Vikings.

If they are just talking about making the facility compatible with soccer, that’s fantastic. But past that, just hearing an NFL team talk about MLS makes me queasy. The cynic in me says this is one of two things: More spin to help keep as much public trust on the organization’s side, or;

An NFL team covering all its bases on filling up the event calendar once a pretty new palace is built.

Clearly, Major League Soccer should be well past the point of getting in bed with money men who reduce a soccer team to a “holding” or see the exercise as a component in a real estate deal.

But that’s just me; I care about the sport and the league.

Other than all that, it really is a swell looking football stadium.

  1. buffalobills2012 - Oct 9, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    Bring back the Buffalo Stallions!!!!

  2. northseattlebruce - Oct 9, 2012 at 7:00 PM

    If you sleep with dogs, you may get fleas.

    But hey, maybe you really love your dog, in which case he’s worth the trouble.

    That’s how it is here in Seattle.

    Seattle soccer community was instrumental in passing the measure that allowed for demolition of the Kingdome and construction of the Seahawks Stadium (now CenturyLink Field). In the run-up to the election, we were promised a GRASS-FIELD stadium capable of hosting World Cup games, qualifiers, and international friendlies. The soccer community mobilized and the measure passed with 51.1 percent of the vote — a margin of 36,780, which is slightly less than the Sounders’ average attendance.

    After the measure passed, the Seahawks pulled the rug out from under the soccer community and put in Field Turf.

    It’s galling when we see blog posts from soccer fans in other parts of the country who bitch about the FieldTurf in Seattle, as if Sounders fans love the surface. You all can take satisfaction knowing that we die a little every time the USMNT announces a date in Columbus, Kansas City, RBNY — anywhere but Seattle. We could fill 60,000 seats within minutes.

    Our summers are glorious, but the winter and spring are very wet. I personally wish the Sounders played on grass, but it’s not as if the Seahawks’ decision was ridiculous.

    So about that dog with fleas. If we could make the same decision again, we would. Our dog isn’t perfect, but he’s worth it.

    • joeyt360 - Oct 10, 2012 at 4:38 PM

      And I was gonna say, when you judge any Minnesota proposal that might come about–Paul Allen doesn’t really care about soccer either. Soccer was a means of getting a stadium built there as well. What happened was that the pro-soccer people tipped the balance on the vote, and the government held Allan to pro-soccer conditions for the stadium, including a good venue use arrangement. So good, in fact, that Allen figured it was easier to buy a stake in the team. But it was years before the deal was put together because Allen didn’t have any interest in driving it, and had it been up to him only (and not Drew Carey and Joe Roth), it might well never have happened.

  3. dfstell - Oct 9, 2012 at 7:56 PM

    I know there are a million reasons why pro/rel won’t work now in the US, but this is one of the reasons why I wish we could have it. I’d rather see teams join MLS based on excellence on the field than on a stadium package deal.

    Again….I know there are reasons why it is problematic…..

  4. valiantdraws - Oct 9, 2012 at 9:35 PM

    Buffalo represent!

    Hell yeah to my old-school man with the Stallions shout out. I used to watch the Stallions highlights on the news when I was a kid.

  5. wesbadia - Oct 10, 2012 at 9:10 AM

    I read this yesterday when it was linked to on Kick Off. What I came away with is that Bagley should not be conducting interviews if he’s going to dodge questions with answers like “As we get into the design process, we will ensure that the new stadium will accommodate professional and international soccer” when asked about “Do the Vikings truly have an interest in soccer…?”. That’s disconcerting. The man is VP of Public Affairs. Dodging questions by reverting his answer to deal with whether or not it’ll accommodate FIFA requirements does not bode well for the reality of MLS in MN, at least not owned by the Wilfs and playing at Vikings Stadium.

    Garber is too smart for this crap. The promotion of teams from USL and NASL over the last few years proves that this is the course that should be taken instead of falling for some proposed stadium that may or may not be welcoming for a soccer club. I sincerely doubt MN will be getting a franchise if the Wilfs are involved. That five year stipulation about getting a franchise is merely posturing, me thinks, and just designed to get political and public support. Besides, Garber has bigger fish to fry in other markets. Namely the south east, and NY2. The NASL and USL are already providing teams in those markets that are ripe for “promotion”. Let’s target them instead.

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