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MLS commish Don Garber: no Buck Shaw for MLS Cup

Nov 5, 2012, 3:22 PM EDT

Buck Shaw

Over the last few weeks, there has been a little bit of a misunderstanding regarding site selection should San Jose win host rights for MLS Cup 2012.

Yes, the Earthquakes’ organization would have a say in matters. They should, of course. But that “say” has limits.

And that got lost recently as various figures from media and from the club weighed in on the venue debate du jour: Whether San Jose would be better served to make the event a bigger, splashier deal (and relocate to a larger venue), or whether the club’s competitive efforts would be better served by remaining in place, right there at comfy and cozy little Buck Shaw Stadium?

What got lost was this: it was always Major League Soccer’s decision, not San Jose’s.

It’s a little wonky, but MLS Cup is an MLS event. That is, front to back, the proceedings are run by staff from MLS HQ. It’s a distinction that matters in a lot of arcane ways that you and I don’t care about, but also in slightly more public matters of ticketing and player availability. And in the case of site selection, it matters substantially.

That’s the background for commissioner Don Garber’s comments over the weekend, which sealed the deal on this little bubbler of a debate:

We think if San Jose was able to make it into the final, more than 10,000 people would want to come to that game. So we’d want to find another site. We just don’t know where that is yet…. We have made the decision that we would like to move the game out of the stadium that they play in in Santa Clara today.”

The problem with Buck Shaw Stadium (pictured above) isn’t just the capacity of 10,000 and change, even if that’s the reason cited.

A lesser talked-about element of any professional sports premier event is the suited party and preening scene, i.e., the hospitality factor for rich folks who pay a lot of bills.

Sponsors and MLS owners need separating from the great unwashed, and a Spartan venue like Buck Shaw just doesn’t quite play to par on that one.

Plus, a small soccer stadium belonging to a smallish college (Santa Clara) doesn’t exactly fit the big-time image that the league and its partners (the TV networks, the major sponsors, etc.) would like to present.

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