The Astroturfery Behind the Failed Beckham Stadium Plan

In case you don’t follow me on twitter or already read Vice Sports, here’s a link to my up close look at how and why Beckham has failed to get a stadium deal done in Miami (so far). For the record, it was edited by the excellent Eric Nusbaum and the elucidating Patrick Hruby. Like all kinda long stories that require original research, there’s little snippets and footnotes along the way.

One of the footnotes that I want to share is the story of the “Downtown Neighbors Alliance.” ‘Tis a class tale of astroturfery, snobby rich people problems, and a Mayor’s flooded inbox. Continue reading “The Astroturfery Behind the Failed Beckham Stadium Plan” »

How Old is Too Old?

Bayern Munich has enjoyed a wonderful Bundesliga season to date. They’re top of the league despite an embarrassing loss to 2nd place Wolfsburg. They are also favorites to advance in their Champions League tie, despite tying the first-leg 0-0. However, for fans of beautiful soccer, not all is well in Munich. Why? Because of midfield. That’s why. And what hurts the most is that the players at fault are beloved, world-class veterans.

I speak, of course, of the Spaniard and the pig farmer. Continue reading “How Old is Too Old?” »

The Two Most Misunderstood Words of MLS CBA Talks

“Work stoppage.” As a fan who enjoys watching live soccer, these words strike terror into my heart. Thus far, the current MLS labor talks have followed the same pattern: MLS owners, happy with increasing revenue and a one-sided owner/labor balance, complain they are “still losing money” and profess to not be worried by the talk’s slow progress. Meanwhile, the MLS Players’ Union makes vague threats about “strikes” and says “free agency” over and and over.

I don’t know who has the upper hand in negotiations. I also don’t know what will happen. I know there are some creative quasi-free agency solutions. I know that MLS salaries also lag behind North American counterparts (and way behind England). However, here’s one thing I don’t know: would a work stoppage really be that bad? In that vain, I looked at recent work stoppages in other North American sports leagues. Things didn’t always end up so bad once the dust settled. Continue reading “The Two Most Misunderstood Words of MLS CBA Talks” »

Barack Obama Destroys Hope of US Soccer World Cup Win (Singlehandedly)

I am such a bleeding heart liberal that I need regular blood transfusions to prevent cardiac arrest. I will defend LBJ’s “Model Cities” initiative to the end, and not so secretly took some delight upon hearing of the passing of Ronald Reagan. During the two terms of George W. Bush, I lived in Spain, Portugal, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua. If I spoke a third language other than Spanish and English, I probably would have moved to an even farther away country. Sadly, though, my Arabic and Mandarin Chinese are not so polished.

Thus, of course, I voted for Barack Obama and waited for him and government to immediately solve all of my life’s problems. And then he stabbed me in the back. Continue reading “Barack Obama Destroys Hope of US Soccer World Cup Win (Singlehandedly)” »

The Klinsmann and MLS Row: Draining a Fountain of Youth?

Jeff Carlisle at ESPNFC got some juicy nuggets from MLS executives: apparently, many are pretty angry that Jurgen Klinsmann and his staff have nudged MLS academy players to sign for European Clubs instead of MLS teams. At issue is pride, but also money: many MLS academies waive fees for players, and thus cost around $600,000 a year to maintain. When you factor in that MLS is a closed system where players rarely transfer within MLS for transfer fees (sometimes allocation money, admittedly), you can understand the MLS owners’ gripes. They invest heavily to groom a garden of players, many of whom won’t reach the highest level, and some bird swoops down when they turn 18 and takes away the ripest fruit.

However, Christian Hambleton and Michael Wheeler at the Vanderbilt “JetLaw” site point out that MLS owners may be themselves to blame: they are leaving money on the table. Continue reading “The Klinsmann and MLS Row: Draining a Fountain of Youth?” »

The MLS Live Blackout Black Eye

Blackouts, don’t you hate them? Look at the above image of the MLS Live playoff schedule. Blackouts pepper the screen. I’ve been trying to figure out the MLS algorithm for them. As a longtime NFL fan, most local games were (and are) blacked out on TV if the stadium failed to sell out for home games. For MLS, the formula seems to be: if a local cable network shows the game, then it gets blacked out on DirecTV and MLS Live. If NBC Sports Network shows the game, then an entire country gets the shaft. If ESPN shows a game, then there’s no MLS Live option.

Why? Well, in short, because MLS wants to get on the Cable TV gravy train while it can. However, there are a few problems. Continue reading “The MLS Live Blackout Black Eye” »

Cool Carlo and the Non-Clasico Clasico

The furling eyebrow. The non-abrasive press conferences. The jovial laugh. Carlo Ancelotti is definitively not Jose Mourinho. Thanks in large part to signings, he’s re-made the Real Madrid roster into an attacking 4-3-3 with little regard for, say, defending. Gone is the counter-attacking 4-2-3-1, the crossfield switches of Xabi Alonso, the darting runs of Di Maria, the lackadaisical drifting of Ozil.

Also gone, perhaps for the better, is the animosity for FC Barcelona. Continue reading “Cool Carlo and the Non-Clasico Clasico” »

More Reflections on the Galacticos 3.0

Being a Real Madrid fan means winning trophies, spending money on big signings, and winning even more trophies. You also get lots of shit when the expensively assembled team doesn’t win, but, hey, comes with the territory. What being a Real Madrid fan never meant before was this: selling key players in the prime of their career.

So what has happened these past two summers? Continue reading “More Reflections on the Galacticos 3.0” »

The Third Party Ownership Double Standard

This past weekend, the Brazilian national team beat Argentina 2-0 in a friendly in Beijing. With players based in Europe and South America, why on Earth did they travel so far to play one another? After all, the two countries are neighbors on the same continent. The simple answer is, of course, money. The more complicated answer lies in the CBA’s recent dealings.

Reuters (Andrew Downie to be exact) had an excellent article in 2012 about the CBF (Brazilian Federation) and its decision to sell friendly rights to ISE, a sports business corporation. Based on the terms of the deal, the CBF got a guaranteed payment of about two million per game. A fixed payment with no worries about gates – sweet deal, right? The devil is in the details, though. ISE got the right to pick the opponent and the venue.

And this business model, third party playing rights for national team friendlies, is even more worrisome than for individuals. Continue reading “The Third Party Ownership Double Standard” »

Neighborhood Blight: the New Stadium Scam

We all know the new stadium scam playbook in-and-out: teams commit to a long-term lease, promise to create jobs, and show off some hired gun economic impact study. Local communities then throw subsidies, free land, and tax breaks at them to the tune of hundreds of millions. In reality, the stadium creates only a few part-time and low-wage jobs, the surrounding neighborhood gentrifies only a bit (based on, duh, external factors like location), and the team tries to weasel out of the lease in later years (or extract renovation concessions).

Yet, in both Detroit and Liverpool, England, a new and far more sinister stadium plan has emerged: strategic blight. Continue reading “Neighborhood Blight: the New Stadium Scam” »