Saturday, October 21, 2017

NYCFC Moves Final Regular-Season Game to Citi Field

(by Christian Araos 10-12-17)

New York City FC will play its final regular-season game on Oct. 22 at Citi Field because of the New York Yankees‘ participation in the American League Championship Series, the club announced Thursday. Should the Yankees reach the World Series, NYCFC is expected to move its Major League Soccer conference semifinal home game, a senior club official confirmed.

Since the MLB playoffs involve additional field and stadium preparations it takes more than the normal three-day window to convert Yankee Stadium from baseball to soccer. Besides the field markings, there are installations built inside the stadium specific to the postseason (such as suites and arrangements for television rights holders) that cannot be easily taken down and rebuilt to accommodate both the Yankees and NYCFC. This applies to the specific security plans and installations that will be in place for the Yankees games which could not be disclosed given their sensitive nature.

“While we are happy for our partners, the New York Yankees, we understand that relocating a home game is a significant challenge for fans,” NYCFC club president Jon Patricof said. “We feel Citi Field will give our team the best chance of success on the field and provide a good environment for our incredible fans.”

Under the recommendation of City’s sporting department, the field at Citi Field will have the same dimensions as Yankee Stadium. The match against Columbus Crew  will kickoff at 4 p.m. as previously scheduled. The club said it intends to inform season-ticket holders of their options, but they will be similar to the arrangement for the Sept. 23 game in East Hartford, Conn., where fans had the option of replacing or receiving refunds for their tickets.

“Citi Field is an excellent ballpark which has hosted international soccer matches in the past,” Patricof said. “From a Sporting perspective, this represents an easy transition which would allow our team to get the result we will be looking for.”

Similar to Pratt & Whitney Stadium, Citi Field has hosted international soccer games with a field oriented within the outfield. The club is unsure what the capacity for the Citi Field game will be, but it is expected to be higher than the 10,000-or-so who attended the game in Connecticut. Citi Field is accessible by car or the No. 7 train though it is unclear whether the Willets Point Long Island Railroad station will be open for the day.

NYCFC is in negotiations to move its playoff game should the Yankees reach the World Series. The official confirmed that Citi Field is under consideration, but a possible golf event held for the weekend after the playoff round could complicate the negotiation. The sporting department has made it clear that grass fields are preferred but stadiums with turf are also under consideration. An announcement is expected next week.


Anthony Precourt claims ‘misrepresentation’ during meeting with the media

The Crew investor/operator leaves people with more questions than answers as he answers media questions

(by Ralph Shudel 10-20-17)

When Anthony Precourt purchased Columbus Crew SC from the Hunt Sports Group in 2013, many fans became uneasy with an “outsider” taking control of the first club in Major League Soccer.
What did a venture capitalist from San Francisco with no prior ownership experience want with MLS’s first franchise? Many feared the team would become expendable to the new owner.
Former ownership trusted Precourt as did then-mayor Michael Coleman.
He told members of the media that he and his ownership group remained “very committed” to keeping the Crew in Columbus and pledged that he wouldn’t be an absentee owner. He even spoke of buying a second home in Central Ohio.
Fans were reassured as the agreement between Precourt Sports Ventures and the Hunt Sports Group included a promise to keep the franchise in Columbus for at least 10 years. However, a then-unknown escape clause was included in the event that Precourt decided to move the team to Austin, TX.
Former Columbus Dispatch Crew beat writer Adam Jardy remembers when he first met Precourt on the day he bought the team. He recalled his first encounter with the Crew owner in an article he wrote this past Tuesday.
“When I asked him if there was any language in the deal binding him and/or the club to Columbus, he acted offended and gave a curt reply, repeating what he said publicly about being committed to the city.” - Adam Jardy
Fast forward to present day and trouble is on the horizon.
News broke late Monday evening about Precourt’s intention to move the Black & Gold to Austin barring the construction of a new downtown stadium.

Understandably, fans were upset and confused as information poured out from multiple sources. Supporters took to social media to vent their frustrations, but would have to wait for official answers when the Black & Gold owner was scheduled to meet with the media via teleconference Tuesday morning.
Precourt began the meeting by speaking of unprecedented growth in MLS and how the product has improved year over year, listing his accomplishments of the last 4 and a half years.
He then moved onto the bad news.
He stressed that PSV was beginning to explore “strategic alternatives” to secure the long term viability of the club due to the business struggling to keep pace with the rising standards of the league, match day attendance, an inability to grow the season ticket base and the disparity in match attendance and corporate support.
Precourt also felt it necessary to address the elephant in the room.
Just 12 hours prior, the Columbus Dispatch reported that Alex Fischer, CEO of the Columbus Partnership, along with a group of business leaders from around Central Ohio approached Precourt with offers to buy the Black & Gold outright and engage in a 50-50 partnership.
Precourt rejected both offers.
The Dispatch also reported a prospect of the new Austin franchise playing on the University of Texas campus should the franchise relocate. Another source also confirmed that Precourt had his heart set on playing at the University of Texas and that people at MLS headquarters weren’t exactly keen on the idea.
The investor/operator said that “misrepresentations” had been made and emphasized no relocation decision was final. Precourt told this to reporters despite having created the “MLS2ATX” domain, copy written under PSV, in August.

Precourt also denied other reports, or “misrepresentations.”
“We are not asking for public tax dollars and we are not asking either city to build a stadium for us,” he said. “Any conversations we’ve had in Columbus with potential investors center around a new, privately-funded stadium in the downtown area.
No investor in Columbus presented a serious offer to invest in the club while the team plays at MAPFRE Stadium. Not for 100 percent, not for 50 percent, not for any percentage. To say that a deal has been made to host games at UT-Austin is also premature.”

Tom Bosco, a reporter from ABC 6 in Columbus, continued to press the issue.
Precourt responded by denying the existence of the Columbus Partnership offer.
“We’ve had private conversations and they’re probably better to remain private,” he said. “At this time, I’m going to stay there. There were no serious offers made to me in regards to the Crew.”
Sources have told Massive Report that a $75 million bid was made to purchase just a half stake in the franchise. And was turned down. Precourt in his above quotes, denies this is the case.
Who isn’t telling the truth?
Many city officials seem blindsided by Precourt’s proclamation including Franklin County commissioner John O’Grady.
“If he needs a Downtown stadium, he should have said something,” O’Grady told The Dispatch. “That’s a weird negotiating ploy.”
Andrew Erickson of The Dispatch asked Precourt about the reaction from city officials, many of whom mimicked O’Grady’s reaction.
“Why, from the city aspect, were they kept in the dark and how can those conversations progress going forward?” said Erickson.
Precourt danced around the question, saying again that it was a “misrepresentation” and that he had been clear about his desire for a stadium since the beginning of 2016.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther told The Dispatch, the stadium discussion began only a few months ago.
Andrew King of asked Precourt to field the hardest question of the teleconference. King asked, “Just last October you told The Columbus Dispatch you were, ‘tired of the insecurities Crew SC fans have about the team possibly moving.’ Now you’re openly considering moving the team. Do you feel like you maybe owe those Crew fans an apology for suggestions of unwavering commitment?”
It was an honest question and what King and the members of the media received was a shockingly honest answer. Precourt said that he stands by what he said and hopes that “you guys recognize the ambition” as the club tries to take the next step in Major League Soccer.
For those hoping for answers from Precourt this week, you did not get them. At least not ones that really answered the questions.
As Precourt made it clear, there are “misrepresentations” going on. It just remains unclear who is doing the misrepresenting.


Columbus to Austin is a breach of MLS faith

If it can happen to Columbus, it can happen anywhere

(by Rafael Naboa 10-17-17)

My mom was born in Ditmas Park in Brooklyn, and later moved 17 blocks from Ebbets Field. She grew up watching Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, and yes, even Jackie Robinson. She split her childhood between Brooklyn and Mexico City, but to this day, she still identifies as being from Brooklyn. The Dodgers were central to that identity; after the team left for Los Angeles, she basically stopped following baseball, and really, all sports.
I grew up in a small Ohio town -- Granville, to be exact. Growing up, I became an Indians fan, a Cavs fan -- and yes, a Browns fan. The idea that a team like the Browns could simply pick up sticks and ditch a town like Cleveland was inconceivable. I knew all about the Dodgers leaving from my mom, but I thought that was something in the past. Not something that would happen in, say, 1995.
And then Arthur Bertram Modell broke faith with a city, and did just that. I was a freshman in college, and I watched the team I grew up adoring play out a desultory autumn in Municipal Stadium. I made the road trip up to Cleveland for the last home game the original Browns ever played. I was 19, unfamiliar with tragedy and heartbreak, besides the picayune kind that every youth is acquainted with -- a broken heart, not getting your way on a trivial thing or another. I saw grown men crying. Not just crying; sobbing. Not just sobbing; wracked with grief, heaving back and forth and to and fro, devastated in only the way that a broken dream and a broken marriage can devastate someone.
Because, for a lot of people, that's the kind of emotional investment you put into a team. And when you break faith like Modell did with Cleveland, or Robert Irsay did with Baltimore, that's the kind of emotional wreckage you leave behind. And every time it happens, people lose just a little bit more faith in the institutions that bring us together.
Those scenes haunt me to this day. It's been 22 years, and I have to tell you: I haven't been an NFL fan since that day. Oh, I'd love it if the Cleveland Browns were to somehow -- despite the futility that is bred deeply into their DNA -- win a playoff game, let alone make it to the Super Bowl, let alone win it. But I'd be lying if I were to tell you that my connection with this version of the Browns was anything like the one I had with the team that left for Baltimore. It isn't. It cannot be. That team broke my heart as a kid when it lost games to Denver, and it obliterated it when it moved to Baltimore.

If there's any team that embodies a grassroots team in MLS, it's Columbus. Alan Rothenberg and the rest of the MLS honchos awarded a team to Columbus simply on the strength of 10,000 tickets being sold to a fanbase that desperately wanted a professional soccer team. No other MLS team can claim that. It was the original, the first. You don't need me to reiterate the history. Before Toronto, before Seattle and Portland and Kansas City and Atlanta and all the other shiny cities and stadia that MLS loves to milk for marketing purposes, there was Columbus.
See that picture up top? That’s the Nordecke. The Crew were the very first team I ever bought season tickets to, in 1996. One of the very first stops I made after I got back from Army basic training was to then-Crew Stadium, just to check it out. My mom had sent me news clippings during boot camp. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been there, for both Crew games and national team games.
Sports team owners like Anthony Precourt like talking about how their teams are a civic institution. But that's all a pack of sweet lies, sold in service of a willing fantasy, devoured by people eager to believe it. You want to know what a civic institution is? A school. A park. A monument. You don't hear about Goodale Park and Schiller Park ditching Columbus -- the city I grew up thinking of as a "big city" -- in pursuit of desired demographics. You don't hear about Columbus Academy abandoning Columbus in pursuit of a better student base or better test cores.
At 10:51 p.m., Grant Wahl broke a story that anyone who follows or writes about sports dreads: a team was abandoning one town for another. But this isn't just any team, and this isn't just any town. The Columbus Crew SC were quitting Columbus, Ohio, for the apparently more verdant pastures of Austin, Texas.

And now there won't be. There won't be, because Anthony Precourt wants to move the team he owns to Austin, Texas, in pursuit of soccer hipsters and a shiny downtown stadium and who knows what else. No one does, least of all Precourt, who's reduced to babbling incoherently about how "they've seen new markets be successful". That sure inspires confidence about his ability to succeed in a place where soccer will rank ahead of college football in interest -- oh, wait, it won't.
See the folks in the picture above? Those folks — folks I went to grade school, high school, college with — are losing their team.
This is a travesty. It makes a mockery of the compact that every fan makes with any team they follow: I will give you my heart and loyalty, and you will honor it, not abandon it.
But in my life, I've seen football abandon Cleveland, hockey abandon a host of cities, baseball abandon Montréal, and basketball abandon Seattle. I was more the fool to believe that soccer wouldn't abandon the one city that gave it meaning and heart. Columbus gave MLS its love, its devotion, and its loyalty. And the league is repaying that with a middle finger.
I’ll ask you for one favor: if you want to know more about this story, and the Crew, and its fans, visit Massive Report. They could really use your support.


Sacred gound

First soccer specific stadium in the US

Friday, October 20, 2017

Columbus Crew won't give refunds for 2018 season tickets amid move plans

( 10-20-17)

Columbus Crew SC will not give refunds to season-ticket holders for what might be the team's last season in Ohio before a possible move to Austin, Texas.

Returning season-ticket holders had already been charged at least part of the amount of their ticket plan for next season when club owner Anthony Precourt said this week that he would need to see a "dramatic change" to keep the team in Columbus beyond 2018.

Fans who did not want to automatically renew their tickets had to opt out before Sept. 18, according to the membership plan laid out on the club's website.

A club spokesperson confirmed to ESPN FC on Thursday that no refunds would be available for the funds already collected by the club for the 2018 season. The refund policy was first reported by local TV station NBC4.

"There are not going to be refunds issued for season tickets for the 2018 season," the Crew spokesperson said. "We are playing at MAPFRE Stadium in 2018."

Season-ticket holders could have elected to pay their entire bill for 2018 before Sept. 15 of this year, or choose from a three-month, six-month or monthly payment plan. According to the club's website, the deadline for the second installment on the monthly plan would have been just hours before the news of the potential move broke on Monday night.

Columbus' website says: "In the event you fail to make any timely required payments, Crew SC reserves the right to either (a) withhold your tickets for upcoming events until payment is made and the account is in good standing or (b) terminate the Membership, with any payments made prior to the termination date forfeited by you."

Precourt has been frustrated at the team's inability to increase revenue streams in terms of overall attendance, sponsorship and season tickets. With one week to go in the regular season, Crew SC's attendance ranks 20th out of 22 teams.

The owner intends to explore concurrent paths towards a new stadium in both Columbus and Austin -- a plan that has the support of Major League Soccer -- but Columbus mayor Andy Ginther said the Ohio city will not support public funding for a new venue.

In a letter to season-ticket holders on Tuesday, Precourt expressed optimism for the 2018 season, but admitted concerns over the Crew SC's long-term future.

"Although the club continues to address a series of historic challenges related to our ongoing business operations, we have specific concerns as we strive to realize our full ambition of becoming a standard-bearer in Major League Soccer," his statement said.

"The facts and findings surrounding the health of the club dictate that we urgently expand and explore all options to preserve the long-term sustainability of the club -- including remaining in Columbus."


Thursday, October 19, 2017

FC Dallas? It should be FC Goliath

Where did FC Dallas find this race of giants?

Look how big and tall these two FC Dallas players are! The look like giants out there kicking a ball.