The Morning After: Attendance, San Jose Stadium and More

san-joseBig weekend of games in MLS, with playoff spots on the line in almost every game.  The crowds did not dissapoint, with about 11k in New York and 10, 500 (sellout) in San Jose for a pair of Friday Night games.  Elsewhere, Seattle brought its usual 32k plus while more than 18k were at Robertson stadium for a thrilling RSL/Houston matchup.  The Wizards got their ususal 10k plus sellout and more than 18k were at the Home Depot Center to see the Galaxy severely dent TFC’s playoff chances.  Finally, on Sunday the East’s two best teams played to a 2-2 draw in front of about 15,500.

The big business news of the weekend comes from San Jose, where the Earthquakes have released the first images of their proposed new stadium. The stadium is planned near the San Jose Airport and will reportedly required two years to construct from the date of the ground breaking.  The funding for the planned stadium has always been a bit fuzzy.  The city of San Jose had previously agreed to chop $40 million off the purchase price of a 75 acre parcel that will include the Stadium and additional mixed use development. We reported a while back that based on a request by owner Lew Wolff, Mr. Wolff will now pay $89 million for the site (purchased by the City for $81 million). The stadium will seat 15,000 (with additional seating for 3,000 more on a berm at the stadium’s open end) and will use 14 acres of the site.

In addition to the difficulty in moving the stadium project forward, the team has struggled on the field. Since entering MLS in its current form, San Jose has had two consective last place seasons and fell out of the playoff race fairly early in 2009.  In response, the Mercury News is reporting, that in “an effort to soften the blow of not breaking ground as promised, the team announced it will cut ticket prices by as much as 40 percent for next season. Season-ticket prices will be available for as low as $12 a game, single-game tickets for as little as $20.”  Wolff and San Jose are really discounting their product to keep the fans coming.

Some final business notes; Goff is reporting that MLS will open on March 25 with Seattle hosting Philadelphia at Qwest.  That should be a great game for an ESPN national televsion audience as the League combines its best atmosphere with the addition of a large television market to the fold.  He is also reporting that Philadelphia will open at home in the third week of the season.  As we have previously said, we believe the League should push the Philly opener back until May to ensure the building is finished on time.  Finally, the Red Bulls are slated open their new home in week three against Colorado.

Stadium Update: San Jose Earthquakes, DC United and more

san-joseLast week, we discussed OnGoal’s efforts to build a soccer stadium on the Bannister Mall site in the Kansas City area.  Today, we provide updates about some of the other stadium projects around the League.  In San Jose, the Mercury News is reporting on positive developments in Lew Wolff’s effort to build a stadium for the Earthquakes.  The city of San Jose has agreed to chop $40 million off the purchase price of a 75 acre parcel that will include the Stadium and additional mixed use development. Mr. Wolff will now pay $89 million for the site (purchased by the City for $81 million). The stadium will seat 15,000 (with additional seating for 3,000 more on a berm at the stadium’s open end) and will use 14 acres of the site.

Though some may object to the City’s willingness to part with $40 million for a no-bid land sale to a developer, it actually seems that the City is displaying some rare foresight.  In the current economic climate, the promise of large commercial development is important as a job creator and economic driver.  The infusion of such a large private development is still a good deal for the City even at the reduced rate.  According to the story, the appraised value of the land has declined by one third since Mr. Wolff signed the original deal in May.  Importantly, because the arrangement provides Mr. Wolff with only a primary option to purchase the land, he can still walk away from the deal.  As a result, this negotiated resolution allows the City to remain confident that the deal will go thorugh, albeit at a reduced price.

In Harrison, New Jersey, Red Bull is moving forward with its construction of Red Bull Arena, a 25,000 seat soccer stadium estimated to cost $150 million.  The new stadium is set to open at the start of the 2010 season, making 2009 the last year for the Red Bulls in the unfriendly confines of Giants Stadium.  The RedBulls have recently announced (are the Mets, Yankees, Giants & Jets listening?), that season ticket prices will not increase from 2009 to 2010.  Pricing information and a stadium tour are available online here.  There is also a recent article about the new arena in the New York Times.

In Maryland, it appears that United’s chance of getting a stadium in Prince George’s County is has come and gone.  The Washington Post is reporting on an 8-0 vote by the Prince George’s City Council refusing to support funding for a study of a potential stadium in Maryland.  It is fairly stunning that a proposal that was so full of promise just weeks ago seems dead today.  It is also suprising that the Council rejected a study so forcefully.  United is now in the unenviable position of having thumbed its nose at the District of Columbia while being left at the alter (or perhaps engagement party) by the State of Maryland.  Now United, one of the League’s mos successful franchises, faces the possibility of being a team without a stadium or a candidate for relocation.united