Commissioner speaks on new stadium goals

Garber: Boston, DC are next targets for soccer specific stadiums

NEW YORK – MLS Commissioner Don Garber said the New England Revolution and D.C. United are working on joining the ranks of MLS clubs with new soccer specific stadiums to call their own.

“Long term, the Krafts [New England Revolution owners] are very committed to getting a stadium done,” Garber told the media in a Friday conference call. “Jonathan [Kraft] was just public with it a few days ago. I believe it’s not an ‘if’, it’s a ‘when.’ And I look forward to it happening.”

Garber indicated that the biggest challenges in the Boston area consisted of identifying a location for a stadium and securing the necessary funding for a public-private partnership. However, when it does materialize, the MLS commissioner has high hopes for what it could do for the club and the city.

“I’ve told the Krafts on numerous occasions, that if they were able to build a downtown stadium in Boston, it would be Seattle in terms of its excitement and its success,” Garber said.

The other MLS team with the hope of landing its own soccer stadium is D.C. United.

Garber highlighted the efforts and investment of D.C. management in its pursuit for a new home for the club. He said millions upon millions of dollars in resources have been used by the club on lobbyists, architectural designs and plans over recent years.

“They’ll continue to do that because without that stadium they won’t be able to succeed,” Garber said. “They’ve done as good a job as they can do. It’s a difficult market to finalize a deal in. We’ll continue to work hard to see if we can get something done.”

The commissioner noted the league’s success in working with other municipalities in the USA and Canada which historically have not allocated many funds for private projects like stadiums. The Washington, D.C. area has been tougher to crack. However, according to Garber, the prospect of additional investors joining owner Will Chang may help move things along.

“I believe the city would be well-served to work with them on it,” he said. “For the life of me I can’t understand why we cannot get a deal done in that market.”

In the meantime, while the Houston Dynamo and San Jose Earthquakes commence work on their respective stadium projects, the league prepares to christen the latest addition to the stable of state-of-the-art soccer stadiums. In June, LIVESTRONG Sporting Park will open its doors for Sporting Kansas City.

In praising Sporting’s owners for their vision and their growing reputation as “smart, innovative sports industrialists,” Garber highlighted some of the features of a stadium that have some calling it the best soccer stadium in America.

“If you get there and take a tour of the aspects of the facility that are not open to the public, everybody would be very impressed,” he said. “There are areas for players where they can keep their own medical records and nutrition programs. They have a training facility that is state-of-the-art.

“These guys [Cliff Illig and Robb Heineman] have done a terrific job and I hope the fan reacts to that in the way RSL fans have reacted and supports that team in ways that are far greater than it has been in the past. Because the ownership group has certainly earned that right.”