Snippets and quick retorts below:
With all due respect to the "Sons of Ben" (SOB) - the Philly-based fan
group on steroids that successfully pressured business owners, state legislators
and league officials, and helped close this deal by deflecting shots from
naysayers - Major League Soccer is just plain boring.
With all due respect, the "boring nature of Major League Soccer" could be that
you've never had a strong enough allegiance to a team to really care about the
development of a team, on-field and off-field. MLS is 13 years old. Don Garber
repeatedly says we're taking baby steps in the progression of the league. Most
"naysayers" don't understand that. They expect the product on and off the field
to automatically on par with the NFL, MLB, NBA. Give it time.
Even if MLS wasn't overshadowed on TV by better leagues and vastly more talented teams, there's still the almost total blackout of intelligent soccer commentary in all major media outlets. When Jon Stewart and Drew Carey talk about pro soccer more often (and more intelligently) than Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon (the "Pardon the Interruption" sports-show guys), you know your sport really doesn't matter.
We all know Max Bretos and Christian Miles have a long way to go, so do Paul Caligiuri, Christopher Sullivan, etc. Think about every English commentator. They've been raised on the game, standards are a bit higher, etc. Our commentators are as young as the professional game. The more games they cover, the better and more prepared they'll make themselves. Anything that Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon say against the sport of soccer is publicity for the league. Frankly, I'll take it.
This isn't MLS' fault, of course, but it's hard to justify $250 million to lure David Beckham to America and a series of expensive soccer-specific stadium deals when the league as a whole is still millions in the red.
We all know now that Mr. Beckham COULD make $250 million. His guaranteed salary is $5-6 million a year though. As for Soccer-Specific Stadiums pushing the MLS further into the red. Several teams have already turned profits - and have since 2005. Think about the nascent stages of ANY PROFESSIONAL league. Think about the English Premier League in the late 1980s. There has to be significant spending in order to build your league. Don Garber knows that, Ivan Gazidis knows that.
The 2,600 temporary construction jobs and 800 full-time jobs will be a nice boost to the local economy, to be sure, but what percentage of the good jobs will go to actual Chester residents?
I saw Chester Mayor Wendell Butler at the MLS Philly 2010 Press Conference and trust me, he seems like the guy that wouldn't allow otherwise. I don't have a great source but I have heard that over 70% of the Chester casino's staff are from Chester or the surrounding area.
He goes on to mention positive things - youth participation, ties to ethnic communities, but fails to touch on the fact that 3,400 have already put their deposits two years in advance. Call me biased, but there has been nothing more fun to watch than the development of Major League Soccer. The ebb and flow of public sentiment. The progression of teams. Every year it gets better and better, and this was after years of inconsistency. It's safe to say, however, this league is here to stay. Let's revisit this in 10 years when Philadelphia has won several MLS championships, draws 18-20k a game, and soccer finds its way past the NBA into the Big Three.