Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Can we build a home for an MLS team? Yes we have the money

I recently bitched too early over at Washblog about losing the USL-1 Sounders to an MLS expansion team in a couple of years. Now I think its a pretty good idea, but there have been some concerns about whether its possible to build a new soccer specific stadium in Washington, or whether given the crash and burn effort of the Sonics to get a new arena is poisoning the well for public financing of sports arenas.

Here:
“Renton is a very interesting site because of the demographics and the growth that I have seen around that area and the land that is available,” James Keston said. “And based on what has happened with the Sonics, they’ve already gone through the first stages of this: the making sure that the community and the city at least have an interest in a potential stadium there.”

The Sonics issue is their failure to gain public money for a new home even with the threat of relocation.
And, more directly, here:
The only real hangup there is a stadium. The Sonics are having major problems trying to get something built and I doubt after footing the bill for both Safeco and Qwest that the taxpayers there will go for something new for the Sonics, much less an MLS team. No stadium=no team as far as MLS is concerned.
Instead of looking at the Sonics for the future of the MLS in Seattle, we should pay closer attention to the efforts of hockey teams, horse people and community theaters. While the efforts of the Sonics to gain public funding for a new stadium went down in flames, a hockey arena in Kent, a horse dome in Lewis County and two community theaters are going to be built with public money allocated in the last legislative session.

Also, while the Sonics arena would have cost King County taxpayers about $300 million average public contribution to each of these smaller projects was much less. The new Amiga Center at Kent will cost the state just more that $30 million of the total $67 million cost.

And, the MLS stadiums being built around the country today are right in line with the projects the state funded this year. Even if you look at the most expensive stadium in Salt Lake, $150 million for the entire project is not out of line. I could see someone making and argument for a state contribution of $30+ million to an $80+ million park along the lines of Pizza Hut Park in Houston near Dallas (thanks Blue Lightning). Heck, the stadium in Toronto only cost $62 million.

2 comments:

ToddB said...

I'm not sure why you're going on about this. There is already a beautiful soccer stadium in Seattle; it's called Qwest Field. It was not just built for the Seahawks, but also to entice the MLS to bring a professional team to the Emerald City.

Emmett said...

Because since we built Qwest field the MLS has shifted focus away from trying to play in depressing half filled NFL stadiums in the summer, and building what are called soccer specific stadiums. Its pretty much understood that if you're going to get an MLS franchise, you're going to have to find a way to build one.

Real Salt Lake, the newest entry, is already building one in Sandy UT.