Soccer Stadium Update

It has been a while since we took a look around MLS at the status of stadium construction in MLS, so here is quick snapshot.  In Kansas City, the new stadium is moving forward rapidly with opening set for the Summer of 2011.  MLS will likely follow the “Philly model” and force KC to spend most of the first months of 2011 on the road.  Kansas and the local county have offered $230 million in incentives to lure Cerner and the Wizards to Kansas.  Here is  the construction webcam.

In Vancouver, the future home of the Whitecaps is undergoing a significant makeover.  The bubble roof has been taken down in preparation for the retractable roof that will replace the current setup. As we have said before about Vancouver, the ownership group seems solid.  Mr. Kerfoot has long been a friend of soccer and Steve Nash (who has been popping up at Red Bulls practices) adds glamour and splash to the ownership.  The owners have the money; Kerfoot is a billionare.  The Whitecaps have done well at the gate and the market is hungry for higher level soccer.   BC Place is well situated and the proposed soccer stadium is also in a solid location.

Finally, in Portland, renovations to PGE Park continue.  The Timbers are offering a great virtual stadium viewer which allows fans to click on specific seats to see what benefits come with each seat as well as the costs. The team also offers a great fact sheet on the renovation.  Unfortunately a photo diary of the renovation has not been updated in quite some time.

UPDATE:  Thanks to the Timbers for reaching out to correct my note about the photo diary.  Phase I of the renovation was completed in March and the diary will re started in September when Phase II begins after the USSF/minor league baseball season concludes.  The team may also add a time lapse feature and other coverage of the construction process as the stadium renovation moves forward.

Soccer Business Bits: Portland Expansion Moves Forward, Fox Soccer Doubles Up & More

The Daily Journal of Commerce in Oregon is reporting that a final deal for the Timbers to move forward in the renovation of PGE Park could be in place by Thursday.   Construction has already begun on the PGE renovation despite the absence of a development deal thanks to a 3-2 vote last week.  That could all change Thursday if the proposal clears a final hurdle.  Apparently, Commissioner Amanda Fritz had been one of the folks not yet sold on the deal between owner Merritt Paulson and the City.  However, according to the cited report, Commissioner Fritz has had many of her concerns alleviated and the project may be set to move forward. A final vote is due at the end of the month that would clear the project to move forward in earnest and meet the 2011 opening date.

In media news, Fox Soccer Channel is reportedly set to add a second network devoted to the beautiful game.  The channel will be devoted to English and European soccer.  The channel is set to debut in March and will be called Fox Soccer Plus.  Some of the content will be derived from the staggering Setanta USA.  Not yet determined, is how the channel will be offered on American cable systems.  The network will reportedly carry games in HD.

Finally, there are multiple reports that Columbus has re-signed former League MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto.  Although terms of the deal have not been released, it has been announced that Columbus will not be  using its DP slot to retain the Argentininan midfielder’s services.  This continues a trend of MLS teams finding a way to keep high priced talent will using the allocatino funds or by simply reducing salary for former DPs.  Claudio Lopez agreed to a similar arrangment last season with Kansas City.

MLS Expansion: The 2011 Twins Revisited

With a fairly quiet day in the world of soccer business, we thought we would revisit the expansion franchises of Vancover and Portland.  While Portland’s stadium efforts have regularly been in the news since the franchise was granted, Vancouver has been well below the radar.  Here are some quick facts about the franchises and the ownership groups behind them:

Jeff Mallet, Greg Kerfoot, Stev Luczo and Steve Nash (yes that Steve Nash), are the men leading the charge to bring MLS to Vancouver in 2011.  The team would play at BC Place Stadium following a renovation and in a Soccer Specific Stadium sometime thereafter.   Vancouver is already home to the Whitecaps of the USL and would add a second Canadian team to MLS.

In Portland, the bid centers on a proposal to upgrade PGE Park, the home of a minor league baseball team and the Portland Timbers of the USL.  There have been some problems emerging in the last couple of weeks about efforts to build/renovate a stadium for the minor league franchise.

The driving force behind the Portland bid is Merritt Paulson, son of the former Secretary of the Treasury.  Paulson initially sought $85 million in public money to support the bid, renovate the stadium and construct infrastructure.  Given the economic climate, and his father’s prominent role in the bailout, there is no small irony in Paulson’s leading the charge for a raft of public money.

Both teams have reported fairly good success in generating early ticket sales and Portland has cleared a number of hurdles in its stadium construction efforts.  In Vancover, the team will have more than one year to get BC Place ready following the Olympics.

We will continue to monitor these two franchises (forever linked) as they move towards the big date in 2011.  We believe both will ultimately succeed.