I don’t think there’s a more important story in American soccer right now than the effort to keep the Crew franchise in Columbus. Or, to put it in 2017-speak, #SaveTheCrew. I assume most of you have already joined that effort in some capacity, or have made an equally considered and informed decision not to, but I would feel remiss if I didn’t link to these:
Steve Sirk’s Patreon, collecting a number of wonderful Crew fan stories, and Morgan Hughes’ YouTube feed, one of many people who have been hammering at MLS over the Austin fiasco.
I'm still amazed by the folly of it all. But I had not considered this, from MLS original Dante Washington:
So that’s how Garber sold the Austin idea to the other owners – the value of their franchises will go up when other communities fight over them. To me, that sounds completely cockeyed. Other American sports franchises are very valuable, and other American sports franchises threaten to move every twenty minutes or so. But that’s not what makes them valuable, right? Don’t you actually have to become popular first?
Apparently not. I’ve been remiss on keeping you up to date on other expansion news, but in the past month or so there were decisive votes that have helped the league narrow it down to the following finalists:
SACRAMENTO: I lied, there has been nothing new here. In fact, I was worried the lack of news meant trouble, but nope. At least THESE Sacramento Republicans are doing well – even with Meg Whitman!
….sorry, I heard there was an opening for a new Al Franken-type political humorist, and I wanted to try out my A-list stuff.
NASHVILLE: In fairness, these guys voted themselves a soccer stadium before Anthony Precourt and Don Garber’s heel turns. On the other hand, I hope the Nashville City Council has a series of Zygi Wilf-size weights handy to throw, just so they’re aware of how far they can trust him. Wilf is such a crummy person even by NFL owner standards that in 2013 he was dinged $85 freaking million for racketeering. And now Nashville can’t wait to ask him to the barn-raising. Maybe Homer Simpson was right about hugging and kissing poisonous snakes.
DETROIT: Dan Gilbert. I guess Donald Sterling wasn’t available. For some reason the Ford family isn’t listed with the NBA guys (after further review, Whitman isn’t listed in the Sacramento entry, either). It’s possible MLS has had this press release ready for a while, and simply didn’t bother to update it. Sweet summer children that we are, we might have briefly believed that the updated bid’s proposal to share Ford Field with the Lions or the Tigers or whoever (but PROBABLY not Detroit City FC) meant the Detroit MLS bid was moribund. After all, the league’s been pretty clear to places like (to pick a couple of places at random) Nashville, San Diego, St. Louis, and Cincinnati that a soccer-specific stadium is a must-have. We probably ought to stop believing everything we hear from Major League Soccer. We’re lucky they didn’t suggest groundsharing with the Pistons.
COLUMBUS: The league reached out to the Ohio capital, offering them a position as a last-minute entrant in the expansion race. Early reactions have been mixed.
CINCINNATI: You’d have thought someone around here would have noticed Crew fans getting a state visit from His Majesty, the Royal Shaft. And you’d have been right! P.G. Sittenfeld, a respected local liberal councilman (and not, as his name would otherwise suggest, a classic mid-twentieth century British humorist), finally busted out the “Wait, why are we trusting these guys?” line. The rest of the City Council, and the Oakley neighborhood council and the Hamilton County Council, finally decided enough was enough, and stood up to the political, financial and fan pressure FC Cincinnati brought to bear on – no, obviously, they folded like beach towels. Just as baby economists will study the Paul Brown Stadium deal, they should also study how FC Cincinnati was able to win over the hearts of what was probably one of the world’s least promising cities for soccer. It helped a lot that the owners were as local as chili spaghetti, although hopefully when it comes time to sell someone is looking over their shoulder at any random out clauses.
Of course, they’d have to leave the name and history here, because how would “FC” make sense anywhere else?
AUSTIN: You know how the other locations in our jolly tour of future MLS cities have stadiums? You know what Austin doesn’t have? A place for an MLS team to play.
The current proposal is to take public park land and, basically, hand it over. Precourt and Richard Suttle, according to an article that looks like fried garbage on my browser but might work for you, I don’t know, I’m not your IT guy, “would like to avoid” an election on whether the city is allowed to do that. Of COURSE there are laws against doing it without an election. Precourt would like to have a site picked by January 1, and an agreement with the City of Austin by next summer.
I assume Team Beckham hasn’t stopped laughing yet. At least San Diego and St. Louis had their fates decided quickly.
And this is the main reason why I think Dante Washington’s theory isn’t 100% true. This is like a weird supervillain plot that we’re seeing step by step from the supervillain’s point of view. Sure, you found the perfect volcano, but there are zoning laws against putting a supervillain lair within a government-designated environmentally sensitive area, and don’t even bring up getting a permit for a missile silo. Meanwhile Jaws keeps putting off his orthodontist appointment, and James Bond is busy screwing around with Sheriff Pepper in Thailand – he doesn’t even know you exist yet. Yeah, Don Garber is a hell of a villain, but he’s no Christopher Lee. And Anthony Precourt for damn sure isn’t Hervé Villechaize.
(On This Site In 2017 Dan Loney Built His “Man With The Golden Gun” Metaphor. Marred only by the fact that Jaws did not debut until “The Spy Who Loved Me,” this legendary metaphor survived several North Korean (cont. on other side))
Sorry for that.
I haven’t wanted to bore you with What The Crew Leaving Would Mean To Me, because, ain’t a Crew fan. And I really think the business reasons against the Crew move are overwhelming.
I wasn’t going to dwell on this, but…okay, read this. If you want, you probably don’t. It’s a primer on why the Austin Posse were ahead of their time. And it just BUGS me. It’s from the non-astroturf wing of Austin soccer supporters, and it’s called “What We Believe.”
Had this linked to “We’re nihilists, Lebowski! We believe in nothing!”, well, then, I’d probably still be upset about the Crew moving, but I’d at least know they were finding a good home.
My reaction – and I’m aware I’m not the target audience – boils down to “That is, I think I disagree.” But the Austin supporters are depressingly accurate in one respect. What did we think this was, anyway? It’s a business. Fun is short for fungible. If teams couldn’t move, we’d have a lot of teams in Ur of the Chaldees, wouldn’t we?
I gave up on the National Football League when the original Cleveland Browns left for Baltimore, after thirty-five years of sellouts. What would become the Ravens were welcomed by the very same fans who for over a decade had cursed the day the Colts left for Indiana. The greed of the owners and the hypocrisy of the fans just crushed me.
I wasn’t even a Browns fan. But I could take a hint. Fans meant nothing, and, based on how quickly angry ex-Colts fans become enthusiastic not-Browns fans, deserved nothing.
Major League Soccer had begun by that point, and one thing you could say for it, it wasn’t going to be in a position to turn down thirty-five years of sellouts any time soon!
It seemed risky to form an attachment to MLS and (in my case) the Galaxy, for the exact opposite reason the NFL offered. When a team moved, maybe a new one comes back, maybe not. When a soccer team shut down, though, it shut down for good. (This was the late 1990’s, before the San Jose Earthquakes kicked off the NASL revival craze.) But it was also safe. If a team or league folded, it wasn’t because we weren’t good enough fans. There just weren’t enough of us.
So worrying about whether MLS owners would be tempted by sexy deals from unwise civic leaders – the idea seemed ludicrous. At least substandard cases could be made that a baseball or football team provides economic benefit that would justify public spending. But an MLS team? Get out of town.
I also thought that, for the most part, civic leaders had wised up. Even if MLS achieved the kind of stroke that the NFL or Major League Baseball could bring to bear – local economies had taken a beating over the past decade or so. Even if MLS brought the gravy, there weren’t any more trains.
So when Austin supporters chide Save The Crew types for naiveté, they have a strong, if brutal, point. Sure, we knew something like this could happen. But it seemed years and years away. An MLS owner taking a viable team away, like Art Modell took the Browns? That’s Future Dan’s problem!
Well, we’re living in the future. Still no flying cars.
However, when God closes a door, he opens a hole in the roof. In the interests of equal time, allow me to link to the MLSAustin2019 blog. I think they make many interesting points worth serious debate.