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Mij

Krafts shopping areas for soccer stadium?

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MLS, optimistic about growth, set to open 10th season

Commissioner Don Garber, citing new teams and investors, says the league attracts ethnically diverse fans he refers to as the "New America."

01:00 AM EST on Sunday, March 13, 2005

BY CHRIS COWLES

Special to the Journal

FOXBORO -- Not long ago, Major League Soccer was reeling from a bad case of growing pains, replete with financial worries, contraction of teams and a perception that there was little hope for short- or long-term growth.

That was then, but this is now, and league commissioner Don Garber is optimistic and looking ahead with anticipation.

Boosted by the addition of two new franchises and a significant monetary injection by adidas, MLS heads into its 10th season in better condition and with a more defined path of expansion.

"This is a very exciting time for us," Garber said during a recent roundtable discussion with reporters at Gillette Stadium. "We're going into our 10th season and it gives us an opportunity to look back and say: 'Where is the sport today, where is it as a result of having a professional soccer league, what has it meant to this country, to the local communities, and what has it meant to the sport on the global level?' "

Some of the league's 10 franchises were clearly better than others at putting a winning product on the field and fans in seats, Garber touted the off-field strides the league had taken and is convinced they will translate into future success.

"Last year was the best year of the league," he said. "We doubled our investor group, added two new teams, made three new stadium announcements, a collective bargaining announcement (with players) and a $150 million sponsorship (from adidas) coming just thee years after we contracted the league . . . so we are very excited about the year ahead."

Garber, 47, took over the league's top spot in 1999 after spending 16 years in various positions with the National Football League. In his last post as senior vice president/managing director of NFL International, he oversaw all aspects of the league outside of the U.S., including the NFL's European league.

"The thing that has us feeling the best, I believe, is that we've made a difference in our local communities," Garber said. "We've helped bring together diverse ethnic groups and our stadiums represent what I consider the 'New America.'

"The crowd for a Revolution game is different then a crowd for Patriots games or Celtics or Red Sox games. The league gives people a chance to celebrate the beauty of the global game and be connected with the sport. We have our hands around something that's very exciting and very empowering for the New America."

MLS has garnered an impressive fan base with clubs in Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio, but still lacks the appeal to the pedestrian fan, and will likely never again have a Freddy Adu phenomenon to cash in on when it comes to widespread media attention. Gillette Stadium continues to be place where teams enjoy playing. Even if attendance at Revs matches has been flat for several years, it is still better than for clubs in the Denver, Dallas, Kansas City, New Jersey and San Jose markets.

Soccer-specific stadiums remain a key factor in the growth of the sport in this county, according to Garber. These facilities, optimally seating around 25,000, have proven successful with Columbus Crew Stadium and the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., home to the Los Angeles Galaxy and expansion club CD Chivas USA -- the team linked to Mexico's popular Chivas de Guadalajara.

This year, FC Dallas, the former Dallas Burn, will move into the Frisco Soccer and Entertainment Center in August. Next year, the Chicago Fire move to a new stadium, followed a year later by the Colorado Rapids. The MetroStars are expected to move from the cavernous Giants Stadium in the next two or three years and D.C. United could be in a new home as well.

In addition to owner-investor groups such as the Philip Anschutz-headed Anschutz Entertainment Group and the Hunt Sports Group led by Lamar Hunt -- both of which own multiple teams in the league -- Garber lauded the efforts of Kraft Soccer headed by Patriots owners Robert and Jonathan Kraft. The Krafts have owned the Revs since the league's inception in 1996.

The Revolution, in the midst of a two-week training camp in Ecuador where they will play four exhibition matches, open the season April 2 on the road in San Jose, then host Columbus on April 9.

Kraft Soccer has "proven they are great at packaging and managing a product. They've had great success here with the Patriots and Revolution," said Garber who hinted he could one day see the Revolution moving to a soccer-only facility.

"I hope at some point we're able to get a soccer stadium built in this (metro-Boston) market," he said. "This would probably be the top soccer market in the country."

The 68,000-seat Gillette Stadium suits the Patriots just fine, but for the Revs, who drew an average of 12,226 per game last year -- compared with a league average of 15,559 -- downsizing may be a positive move. Many teams regularly inflate attendance totals.

Garber said a new stadium in the area is not in the plans at this point, but added it was not inconceivable that a local community could come forward to partner with the league or the Kraft family to make it a reality.

"We're true to our word," he said. "We believe we need to be in soccer-specific stadiums, a stadium your owners own. Imagine if they (the Krafts) could be partners in a facility that is smaller and specific to the sport."

In addition to CD Chivas USA, the league adds Real Salt Lake to bring MLS to 12 teams for the first time since 2001 before it contracted the Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny. Garber says the league will expand by two teams in 2007 with Toronto a leading candidate to host a club followed by Houston, Seattle, Cleveland and San Antonio. Plans call for an additional two clubs to be added in 2009.

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I didn't realize there were any thoughts about this, Providence should get on it.

Mij, please review the Article Posting Policy. We are asking people to not reproduce copyrighted articles in their entirety. Could you please provide a link to the source of this article? No big deal, you're a new member, so you get a freebie on this one. :thumbsup:

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I picture this closer to bean town.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Why would the Kraft's be interested in building a new stadium when the New England Revolution soccer team plays at Gillete Stadium in Foxborough.

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In many cities, Central and South American immigrant populations disproportionately attend and support Major League Soccer. I wonder what the numbers are for this population comparing Providence to Boston.

- Garris

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In many cities, Central and South American immigrant populations disproportionately attend and support Major League Soccer.  I wonder what the numbers are for this population comparing Providence to Boston.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

You also have to consider Fall River, New Bedford, and Brockton, and the very sizeable Brazilian population on the Cape. Providence is a better trip than Boston for people from the Cape.

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Why would the Kraft's be interested in building a new stadium when the New England Revolution soccer team plays at Gillete Stadium in Foxborough.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The idea of MLS is to put soccer teams in soccer stadiums. The home depot center in LA is so popular they now have two teams. The Krafts have said publicly that they would like to have the revs play in their own stadium. The 67,000 capacity is far from cozy for a team. They currently sell about 12,000 tix per game. A 25,000 seat stadium would not only help the sport but could also help the team fill a stadium. Putting this stadium in a metro area would help to bring in the target audiance, while also catering to the mini van audiance. Its actually on the agenda. I would love to this happen maybe along the fox point area. Others please follow with ideas.... with that said send the Krafts an email... let them know you want the revs closer then the 45min drive from providence.....

contact the revolution

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I read somewhere recently that there are 8.5million people (or some number) within x miles of Providence, more than within the same distance from Boston, Worcester, or Hartford.

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I read somewhere recently that there are 8.5million people (or some number) within x miles of Providence, more than within the same distance from Boston, Worcester, or Hartford.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

yup, i could say that there is a target market here...

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Here are some ideas:

- The City Could get involved trying to lobby for a soccer FACILITY not just a stadium

- This FACILITY would appeal to the soccer community, namely the latino community

- The Latinos Play soccer on the POS field off across from Chad brown & it is a strong cultural event that brings families together

- This could provide the city of providence and recreation department an opportunity to target federal grants as well as donations

- this facility would work in synergy with the private sector, making it more economically viable

-local high school / college teams might also have an interest given strong local soccer teams such as LaSalle Academy, which has been in the Naitonal (no kidding) top ten the past few years. This could add additional venues, such as a national tourneys

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Here are some ideas:

- The City Could get involved trying to lobby for a soccer FACILITY not just a stadium

- This FACILITY would appeal to the soccer community, namely the latino community

- The Latinos Play soccer on the POS field off across from Chad brown & it is a strong cultural event that brings families together

-  This could provide the city of providence and recreation department an opportunity to target federal grants as well as donations

- this facility would work in synergy with the private sector, making it more economically viable

-local high school / college teams might also have an interest given strong local soccer teams such as LaSalle Academy, which has been in the Naitonal (no kidding) top ten the past few years.  This could add additional venues, such as a national tourneys

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

This is a very real need. I wonder how anyone intrested could hekp to get the ball rolling in the political sence...

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I would love to this happen maybe along the fox point area.

contact the revolution

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Hehe... I involuntarily giggled a bit when I read this... There's no way this could go in Fox Point... Could you imagine the traffic on 195 during games? :rofl:

This would best go in North Providence or in the industrial areas in South Providence near RIH. These two areas are the perfect convergence of major highways and both would still allow for stadium design with a nice cutout for views of the skyline :D .

The population around here (both immigrant and otherwise) is still there and considering how strong local soccer is here (both high school as mentioned and college... Didn't the Brown women win the NCAA title a year ago?) a stadium would be a tremendous idea.

- Garris

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I think this is very do-able.

First, anybody that supports this really should take a couple minutes and write to the team in response to their possible move. It took me five minutes.

Second, MEDIA. Being Portuguese and seeing everyone cancel their cable ($30 a month x a couple thousand people is a big hit) and write letters when COX wouldn't carry RTPI (when I was a child) taught me that (well, that people care more about tv than politics but that's beside the point) if you get local radio stations (like 97.3 and other ethnic stations) to start talking about it, it can happen. There's an enormous population of spanish and portuguese speaking people in the area that can be reached and moved to act by this method. If there is anyone that is interested and speaks spanish, call up a local station and bring the subject up to them. Local papers are good as well.

Third, local soccer establishments. These are an obvious source of support. If you know somebody that is involved with any, try and get them to support it through a letter and/or word of mouth. The benefit to them by having a major league team and stadium nearby is blatantly obvious.

Fourth, if enough people can be gathered to write to local suits then it could motivate them enough to at least express interest on behalf of their constituents. An enthusiastic show of support in a specific area is very enticing when you're looking to essentially expand your game attendance. An attempt to get the team is enough to at least get their attention. Remember that we're not trying to start anything here, they're already interested in going somewhere and putting up an arena, we could just convince them that there's more support here.

Thoughts?

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Thoughts?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I actually emailed the mayor tonight and mentioned this. Imagine the legacy he'd leave the city with a major league sport in town. It'd get him a lot of Latino votes as well.

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Here are some ideas:

- The City Could get involved trying to lobby for a soccer FACILITY not just a stadium

- This FACILITY would appeal to the soccer community, namely the latino community

- The Latinos Play soccer on the POS field off across from Chad brown & it is a strong cultural event that brings families together

-  This could provide the city of providence and recreation department an opportunity to target federal grants as well as donations

- this facility would work in synergy with the private sector, making it more economically viable

-local high school / college teams might also have an interest given strong local soccer teams such as LaSalle Academy, which has been in the Naitonal (no kidding) top ten the past few years.  This could add additional venues, such as a national tourneys

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

This all sounds really great. If we could get community involvement in the stadium, have the team host summer youth camps, allow the college use at a reduced rate, keep ticket prices down... I'd be open to the idea of some sort of public funding. *Some*

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This all sounds really great. If we could get community involvement in the stadium, have the team host summer youth camps, allow the college use at a reduced rate, keep ticket prices down... I'd be open to the idea of some sort of public funding. *Some*

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Keep in mind, the krafts didnt have any funding for gillette. Or for what ever it was called before that Cmgi feild or something like that...

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