Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The door is open ...

Ottawa 67's owner Jeff Hunt was on the FAN 590 tonight and left the door open to partnering with a soccer team, if Ottawa ever gets a stadium.
"For soccer fans the highlight of the discussion came when Hunt said that they would look into bringing a MLS 'or other professional soccer league' to their stadium if they win the day. Although the cynic in all of us might dismiss that as just pandering to anyone in city that is leaning towards the footy option, let’s take it at face value for now." — The 24th Minute
The possibility of soccer was mentioned during the Lansdowne Live press conference back in October (although it might have come off better if there had been any trace of soccer memorabilia on the podium).

'Other' options for Ottawa (The 24th Minute)


Anonymous said...

Jim Hunt is on another planet. The MLS has made it clear that they want soccer only facilities and many existing members of MLS have built or are in the process of building new soccer only facilities - New England, Washington, Portland, Vancouver, Washington, New York to name a few. So quit smoking stuff Jeff and figure out what outdoor rink in Ottawa you are going to be using when they tear down Lansdowne.

Anonymous said...

USL might be a better fit for Lansdowne Live.

Hunt may be in a bind for sure if they tear down the arena.

Anonymous said...

I suppose Jeff could try to do a deal with Melnyk whereby Jeff moves the team to Mississuga and Melnyk moves his Mississauga team to ScotiaBankPlace. Would be good economics for Melnyk to make that trade as he gets more revenue for SBP.

GoGades said...

That's the problem with Jeff, he's too much of a nice guy.

He should tell all the soccer supporters to go stuff themselves after the way they've conducted themselves in this debate. He doesn't need them anyway, all 300 of them that actually live in Ottawa.

Why pander to them now, they've lost already. The debate is no longer Kanata vs Lansdowne, it's Lansdowne vs nothing.

Dennis Prouse said...

The arrogance of many in the soccer community has been rather stunning to see during this stadium debate. Here they are, scarcely 24 hours after having their stadium proposal effectively nuked, and they are still out here hating on Jeff Hunt, even when he offers them an olive branch.

The soccer community has also been guilty of deliberate distortions regarding the history of "soccer specific" stadiums, as our courageous friend anon demonstrates. New England is NOT getting a new stadium for the Revolution -- those very preliminary discussions took place two years ago, and went nowhere. The Revolution continue to play before very small crowds at Gillette Stadium.

The Vancouver Whitecaps are perhaps the best demonstration of how the whole "soccer specific" thing is not any kind of a pre-requisite for an MLS franchise. The Vancouver waterfront stadium remains stuck on an artist's table, and is no closer to being started than it was when it was first announced almost four years ago. The fact that this proposal is almost certainly as dead as Melnyk's stadium didn't stop MLS from awarding a franchise to Vancouver to play out of a *gasp* dome, with *shudder* Fieldturf.

Calling RFK Stadium in Washington "soccer specific" is a reach, given that it used to be the home of the Redskins. It is soccer specific only in that both the Redskins and Nationals have since moved out.

Oh, and don't look now, but the plans for a soccer specific stadium in Portland have hit a snag, according to media reports:


Anon did get New York right -- Red Bull Park will be opening next year in New Jersey, albeit after a couple years of delays.

There you go -- out of five cities where we were assured that soccer specific stadiums were either built or on the way, we discover that, in fact, only one exists. And you wonder why the soccer lobby is lacking in credibility.

Final point -- the reason for GoGades' shot about soccer fans who are actually from Ottawa stems from the fact that the Ottawa MLS lobby openly recruited Toronto FC fans to join the fray in Ottawa. As a result, message boards and online polls have been freeped by the Red Patch Boys for months, bringing their oh-so-Toronto style and attitude to it. Nice of them to represent for their fellow soccer fans, but the truth is none of them would be buying tickets here.

I have no difficulty with the notion of having Lansdowne as a shared facility between football and soccer. (Fear not, soccer fan - the technology now exists to remove and reapply the lines pretty easily on FieldTurf, so that concern is now a thing of the past.) It is soccer that didn't want to share, and decided that the best way to build up soccer was to tear down football. I am still willing to entertain the notion of soccer at Lansdowne, but it will be an awfully long time before I look at an Ottawa soccer supporter without wondering why he thought the best way to achieve his sporting dreams was to dump all over mine.

kinger said...

I just look forward to the soccerheads bitching and moaning about not getting to share Ottawa's new CFL stadium, whilst simultaneously crying foul over possibly having to share BMO Field with the CFL.

Dennis Prouse said...

But Kinger, it's the world's game! Football is this dirty, backward game played by American rubes -- soccer is "the beautiful game".

Not only that, soccer is the game of the future in North America -- it has to be, given that soccer fans have been confidently asserting this as fact since the birth of the NASL in 1968. (Just look for all the soccer fans repeating that exact same line in their letters to the editor in the Citizen. A cynic might almost think they had shared talking points.) If someone keeps repeating the same line for 41 years, eventually it will come true, right? (Ignore the dip in attendance in MLS so far this year -- temporary blip, I tell you! BTW, have you heard about the new soccer specific stadiums being built in Vancouver, Portland, and Boston?)

Anonymous said...

To go gades
The probleam on both sides fans wise is some do not seem to know enough about the other sport.Ottawa has one of the largest minor football league in canada.Ottaw aslo is home to a very large soccer community over 30,000 players.6,000 of those play for the the ottawa south united.Will some of those turn in to ticket sales yes its very possible.As for the 300 number yes that is what the fury avg but that is not all the soccer supporters in ottawa.The usl pdl is not even a semi pro league.You can really not say wow they get 300 thats all the soccer suppoters in ottawa.THats is very far from the truth.I am not pro football or soccer i am pro the truth that is all.


Anonymous said...

Someone above state that some current MLS teams are not building new soccer only stadiums. The facts show otherwise.

Washington is in fact looking to relocate into a soccer only facility. They have been negotiating with Prince George County in Maryland to build a new $200 million, 24,000 seat stadium. Yesterday a County committee voted 8-0 against the authorization of a Maryland state bill to study the project and its financing. The owners will be huddling with State legislators to figure out where to go from here.


Meanwhile New England is looking at building at 20,000 seat soccer-only stadium in Somerville which is closer to Boston on a mass transit route.

Anonymous said...

The question isn't whether "some" minor soccer or football players will attend some games. The question is whether 25,000 fans will show up to game after game year after year in all kinds of inclement weather to watch players they don't know. It didn't work for the Lynx despite breaking AAA attendance records in their early years and with a beautiful ball park. Why can we be CERTAIN it will happen with the CFL (failed twice) and MLS (no history in this area). The answer clearly is - we don't know for certain and we don't know how much the tax payer is gong to end up paying for this years from now if one or both of the fanchises fail.

Sports entrepreneurs have ways of protecting themselves and just leaving town and town. The sports industry is littered with them. And they were all "nice guys" when the projects were initiated.

This is the problem facing a guy shy council which is already under pressure for its actions over mass transit over the past few years.

And they are going to choose mass transit over any sports facility.

The only way we are going to get a new sports facility in Ottawa is for an well-heeled owner to pay for the whole thing, And if he is not willing too, then what does that say about his belief in the success of the venture?

The only owners who get the public to pay for their stadiums are those who have a branded image and who threaten to leave. The city/state is so associated with the team that the politicians cave. Witness New York Yankees, New York Mets and Dallas Cowboys. All are moving into billion dollar digs this year at the taxpayers expsnse.

I wonder if the city of Ottawa would bail out the Senators if they threatened to relocated. I suspect they would do more in that case than they are doing now.

Dennis Prouse said...

Anon @ 12:02 PM -- I'm not sure if you were trying to do it, but you helped make my point about "soccer only" venues. The one in Washington/Maryland just got voted down 8-0 by the Committee in Prince George County studying it. That is a pretty resounding "no", in case anyone missed it.

The other story, the soccer stadium in Somerville, Mass., is a recycled story from 2007. That proposal was dropped, and has never been heard from again.

The silence from MLS boosters over the latest difficulties in Portland has been deafening. That soccer specific stadium proposal is in serious trouble, and now looks unlikely to see the light of day.

kinger said...

And the CFL failing twice in Ottawa is hardly a reflection on the fans, and far moreso on crappy ownership. I thought that was common knowledge.

Anonymous said...

Bmo field was not paid 100% by mlse does that mean they did not think it would work.If the city sity said ok we will waive all taxes for 40 years i think melynk would agree with that.

Anonymous said...

Why would or should a city wave taxes?

Why can't sports enterprises be like any other business and put up the money and pay the freight? They get to use the current tax system as they see fit. They don't need any special favors. We don't carry Bell Canada or Telus. They seem to get by okay.

Anonymous said...

The probleam in ottawa is there is a double standard.The arts community right now for festivals gets about $10 million a year.On top of that a large number of thearters etc are paid for via tax payers money.There aslo a good number of projects in the works.I beleave the $200 million dollar library is still on the table as well as others that would be funded by the tax payers.Here is a perfect exzample the people are aginst public money going to a sports stadium but are all for public money going to green space etc.Another exzample is when you by a ticket to the nac part of that ticket is paid for by the tax payer.If the city said no arts group or sports group will get any public money.But thats not the case and its just getting worse.

Anonymous said...

"We don't carry Bell Canada or Telus" said anon

We taxpayers carry a lot of companies. Look at the bailout of the car companies. The bail out of banks around the world. Bombardier has received tens of millions in federal assistance over the years. So did Dofasco and Stelco, only to be bought out by US Steel eventually.
Some places have offered tax free holidays to companies that locate there. New Brunswick, when Frank Mckenna was premier, made a habit of doing this.
Today the federals are talking about giving PRIVATE broadcasters $150 million, to help them out, as many are having to cut back on staff and news coverage.
I have only scratched the surface of naming situations where private companies have received assistance or tax breaks, financed by public money. We do it all the time.

The Aspers in Winnipeg are getting city, federal and provincial help to finance their new stadium. No reason then that the City of Ottawa should ask for the same kind of consideration.

Anonymous said...

Ctv and global likely will aslo get bail outs.

Anonymous said...

And is not CanwestGlobal controlled by the Aspers, who are also getting publc money to help finance the new Winnipeg stadium.
Talk about double dipping--we taspayers bail out private enterprise all the time.

Duane Rollins said...


Portland will be fine. And if it isn't MLS will pull the plug. What MLS wants is for its teams to control the stadiums they play in. They don't really care if there is another tenant there. That's why Quest works. The Seahawks are partial owners so SSFC controls the revenues and dates during soccer season.

Vancouver is not an ideal situation and if any of the bids that had SSS attached to them were ready I don't think you would have seen them in. That said:

Chicago (SSS)
New England (Controls all revenues in stadium)
D.C. United (a mess)
Toronto FCty (SSS)
Columbus (SSS)
New York (SSS in 2010)
Kansas City (SSS in 2010)
Philly (SSS)
Columbus (SSS)

Seattle (controls revenue in stadium)
Chivas USA (rents stadium)
Colorado (SSS)
Real Salt Lake (SSS)
San Jose (SSS plans for 2011)
Los Angeles (SSS)
FC Dallas (SSS)
Portland (SSS)
Vancouver (Odd little agreement with BC Place)

So, by 2011 13 of the 18 teams will play in a SSS and 15 will play in a stadium where they have full control over the auxiliary revenue. Let’s be honest in how we frame this.

Anonymous said...

So at the end of the day what does everyone think?

Will Ottawa City council support:

no stadium

a soccer stadium in Kanata

a new Lansdowne Park

or both stadia?

Dennis Prouse said...

Sorry to use a football analogy on you, Duane, but you are moving the goalposts here. MLS was all about "soccer specific stadiums", but now that many of those plans have gone for naught, all of a sudden the measuring stick is no longer that, but rather control of revenue and dates. That's quite a shift from just a couple of short months ago.

That fact also remains that many of soccer supporters are still out there asserting concrete plans for soccer specific stadiums in cities where those plans have either been shelved indefinitely, or scrubbed entirely.

Duane Rollins said...


No, I haven't been moving the goalposts. I've always been clear that it's about controlling stadiums, not weather football is also played there). Vancouver is an odd situation and I’m not fully clear on what the arrangement is yet.

That fact also remains that many of soccer supporters are still out there asserting concrete plans for soccer specific stadiums in cities where those plans have either been shelved indefinitely, or scrubbed entirely.

Where are you referring to? DC? No one in the know has ever said that's a sure thing (in fact many of us are now seriously scared for the future of that team in DC).

Red Bull Arena and KC have broken ground (in NY's case a while ago). Philly is finally underway.

San José and Houston are the two spots where MLS fans would like to see more progress.

But even in a worst case scenario 2/3 of the teams have stadiums where they control all the revenue and scheduling. It’s hardly the dire situation that you are attempting to paint.

The CFL fans in this debate are beginning to remind me of soccer fans. Capital D defensive.

(And you people do realize that I got my start writing almost exclusively about CIS football, right? A sport that remains very close to my heart...)

Duane Rollins said...

**Wheather**, not weather. It must be late...

Anonymous said...

"The CFL fans in this debate are beginning to remind me of soccer fans. Capital D defensive."

We've been put on the defensive by a Barbadian trashing our game. Then, there's this guy whose grasp of the Ottawa market is based on his girlfriend living here for 18 months who proves he knows nothing about our city everytime he puts digit to keyboard. That guy doesn't make us defensive so much as frustrated by his Toronto arrogance.

Anonymous said...

The lastest on Washington. MLS Commissioner Gerber announced this week that if DC United is not able to make a partnership deal for a new stadium with a municipality in the Washington area soon, he is considering allowing the franchise to move. St. Louis voters have already approved a stadium if it is granted a MLS team. Ottawa's name was also mentioned as a possible location for DC United.


sager said...

Actually, it says that DC United might be moved and that Ottawa is among the cities that have expressed interest in MLS, that's all.

It's moot if there's no stadium for the team. Now, why not move the franchise to Montréal?

Anonymous said...

I think there could be a few teams for sale by the end of this year.While mls has lot of interest in canada its is hurting in the states in a good number of the markets.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of the problems stem from city government
These yobs do not seem capable of doing ANYTHING.
If the current administration was in place back in 1990, I seriously doubt there would be an Ottawa Senators team today.
Really, this city council can't see beyond two feet in front of their own faces.