Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Capital City FC creeps closer to reality

From the start, it's been the bid that made no sense. Yet, Ottawa keeps on keepin' on in its bid to bring big time (by North American standards) soccer to the capital.

Today, MLS big cheese Don Garber made his feel good visit to the city. As expected he said lots of nice things about the bid (link soon), and made an appeal for the public to throw lots of coin at the bid.

It's odd, this Ottawa thing. Nothing suggests that it will work -- a fickle sports market in the heart of hockey land with a media culture indifferent to the game.
But yet...there might just be enough to make it work. That Toronto has taken to the league helps -- God knows Ottawa likes to feel ignored by T.O. and you just know that TFC would get more press. MLS is big enough that it will make Ottawa feel like it's playing with the big boys, but small enough to consider Ottawa (MLS in Ottawa = Columbus in NHL).

Speaking personally, I just don't know if it will work. Yet, I think it might. I'll let Ottawa readers tell me if I'm on crack or not. Am I? Ottawa can't win this race, can it? Soccer couldn't work in Ottawa, could it?

Related: Garber says nice things about Ottawa


Anonymous said...

This is the same type of talk there was when toronto was in the running.People said toronto won't support the team it will last 4 years at the most.

Anonymous said...

Way smaller market, league doomed to fail (expansion Ponzi scheme). Most teams bleeding. Toronto hasn't yet played 4 seasons has it?

Duane Rollins said...

How is the league doomed to fail? What evidence are you using to support that claim?

TFC is about to play its third season.

Anonymous said...

Problem for Melnyk is that the Jeff Hunt fronted group is far ahead in the race to get public support for a stadium.
Lansdowne Live has been in closed door negotiations with the City of Ottawa planning Dept.since early December to iron, out how the whole package will look. Current schedule calls for this stage of the plan to be revealed, to the public on Feb 11 and to go before a committee of City Council on Feb 17. If it gets by committee,we are in business. recent articles and editorials in the local media have been coming out in favour of the Hunt LL plan.
The Hunt group have their CFL franchise, Melnyk does not have his MLS franchise yet.
Today the new federal budget earmarked $500 million for sport and recreational facilities.From comments I have been reading on the net, indications are that the feds are particularly interested in upgrading some of the decaying arenas the feds built as a Centennial project in 1967. That means the Ottawa Civic Center and North Side grandstand complex, which was one of those projects. This gives a boost to the Hunt bid, as the city can possibly get both the Hunt group investment of $120 million dollars and some money from the feds to renovate the sports facilities. The feds wish to get shovels into the ground to create jobs and inject money into our flagging economy.
Lansdowne Live will be able to do that sooner then Melnyk. If the LL project does go ahead their is little hope of Melnyk getting any public money, or much Ottawa fan support. LL will have stolen all his thunder.

Larry said...

Just to add to the last comment. Most anyone who lives in Ottawa would say that they don't want another major sports venue located in Kanata (or anywhere else that is difficult for most of the city to get to).

The Lansdowne Live proposal has two huge advantages over the Kanata stadium. First is the location. The Glebe might not be ideal but it is much better than Kanata in most people's opinion. Second is the cost of renovating the Lansdowne stadium/arena will be cheaper than building a new stadium in Kanata. The city has very limited money so they aren't going to vote to spend more money for a new stadium when there is an equally (or more) viable proposal to renovate the existing stadium.

At some point Melnyk will have to join up with the Lansdowne Live group if he really wants soccer in town. I'm not sure that's actually his goal, so we'll see.

To expand on that last point. A large number of the events held at the SBP could be held at the Civic Centre (e.g. any event that draw less than 10,000 people). For whatever reason the city has not been good at getting these events but I'm sure Hunt et al would do a much better job. This means a lot of lost revenue for Melnyk. The battle between the two groups really comes down to who will make money from future events - Lansdowne Live with a renovated area and stadium or Melnyk with hist area and new stadium.

Mike Radoslav said...

Although an outsider I agree that this stadium cannot be located in Kanata if an Ottawa franchise is to sruvive. While comparisons can be made to TFC if they're pushed that far outside city limits the comparisons don't work quite as well any longer (with TFC's ultra convenient location at the Ex). That was always my biggest problem with this bid having success, yet another shotty location. However if they keep it within city limits, I could be persuaded to side with the people trying to be the MLS to the Capital.

Anonymous said...

Just to make it clear, MR --Scotiabank Place and the proposed MLS stadium are well within the Ottawa City limits. Kanata is a part of Ottawa! Ottawa, Gloucester, Kanata , Vanier, Nepean and some rural communities were forced, by the province a few years ago, to amalgamate into one big city of Ottawa. Always thought it strange that sport fans in the ROC has such a hard time understanding that Kanata is just another part of Ottawa, just as say--North York or Etobicoke are part of Toronto-- or Westmount is part of Montreal. It has been mentioned many times on Senators broadcasts that it is part of Ottawa. Still, many Ottawans do not like where SBP is and wish for a more central location.

Anonymous said...

My only point was that when people "said Toronto wouldn't last 4 years", well it hasn't - yet. As for Ottawa, there's nowhere near the population or diversity that makes Toronto a "sweet spot" for such a league. Is the league "doomed to fail"? Well, if owners are prepared to lose money (and some always are), then not necessarily. But there are reportedly only 4 teams in the black, and the old expansion fee game is being used to prop up the league. In money management, it's called a Ponzi. MLS economics aren't working, so they're buying time. They need it to catch on, and soon. Can't see Ottawa though.

sager said...

Toronto will be there so long as there's a league. What's their season ticket waiting list? (Duane?)

Besides, the leagues obviously make money for someone, sponsors, TV partners and such. Even if they don't get ratings, they provide content.

Anonymous said...

Oh Oh--did Mr Melnyk just buy himself some time with his amd Mr Garber's trip to Ottawa. Something has changed at city council.

Today's Ottawa Citizen says that the City of Ottawa will now consider the Lansdowne Live proposal and the Melnyk MLS stadium , on or around April 14.

The plot really thickens now!


Anonymous said...

You really can't say the population is the only main factor.I remeber when brampton and mississauga were granted ohl teams some asked will toronto be able to support them.The reply for the most part was no doubt about it.Were 10 later and guess what yes thhats it the toronto ohl teams are a bust more or less.So population does not alwas equal support.

Mike Radoslav said...

Anon. I am fully aware that its within the city so my fault for mentioning "city limits" in my previous post, what I meant to say was the city proper or closer to downtown, so my apologies. That being said were TFC to be located in North York or Etobicoke would the response be the same? They'd likely still have the hardcores but being located downtown, with easy access from GO Train, Bus and Streetcar has certainly helped pack the seats I'm sure. As well I was considering the issues the Senators had in the past filling seats, if hockey was struggling how would soccer fare? Anyways as I also said a more central location, I could see that working out much better than Kanata - still skeptical, but that would help ease some of my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

5 million franchise fees became 10, then 20, now 50. And for that, you don't own the team, but a share in a league that has racked up 350 million in debt over 12 years, has only a few locations that "make money", not much (if any) TV revenue. Not bashing soccer, but the Ponzi-economic scheme that isn't working.

Anonymous said...

Let's send the Lansdowne proposal and the Melnyk proposal to an arbitrator, for him to choose, with the city bound to go with what he chooses.

Just an idea that popped into my head this morning. I wonder why!


Jay Fitzsimmons said...

I'm a guy in my early 30's, living in downtown Ottawa. I'm a soccer fan, and a big Toronto FC fan (I even own memorabilia, and have gone to Toronto just for a game). I am the target market for an Ottawa MLS team.

I will not support any Ottawa team that plays in Kanata. I'll never support the Sens for the same reason (the fact that they're a bunch of stick-swinging monkeys doesn't help anything either). It's ridiculous to put a team in the burbs with a highway on/offramp right to the venue so fans don't even buy food, beers, etc like they would if the venue were downtown. The city doesn't benefit as much as it would if the team were downtown.

Will an Ottawa MLS team work? If it's going to work it'll be from people like me going to their games. And I'm not going to Kanata.