January 16, 2014

MLS commish: Revs 'committed' to soccer-specific stadium

By Eric Beato

PHILADELPHIA — MLS commissioner Don Garber on Thursday reiterated the New England Revolution’s commitment to building a soccer-specific stadium near Boston.

Speaking between the first two rounds of the MLS SuperDraft, Garber praised the Kraft family as “deeply committed MLS owners” but stressed the need for any stadium deal to make “economic sense” for the club.

Here’s the full transcript of Garber’s comments in response to a question from New England Soccer Journal on the importance of a soccer-specific stadium for the Revs:

“It’s really important. I get asked that now almost every interview I do.

“There was just an article in ESPN The Magazine or ESPN.com on the Kraft family and what they have done to help grow sport in America. The Krafts are deeply committed MLS owners. They have been struggling to try to find a way to manage and justify privately financing a soccer stadium when they have a privately financed stadium up the road. It’s not optimum. I think they recognize that. They also recognize, as (investor/operator) Jonathan Kraft has said many times, we have to get a stadium deal done. But it has to make economic sense.

“One of the things that is interesting with (the league) is that I don’t get asked as much about our economic viability and the stability of the league. It’s all accepted that this league is going to be here to stay. But we still have to manage through the fact that the league is losing between $75 (million) and $100 million a year. And we are beginning to start processing that with all of your, because we haven’t been talking a lot about our finances.

“The Krafts have to make a good business decision. And for them to put $100-plus million into a stadium and lose more money than they’re losing now, I’m not sure I could even be an advocate of that.

“That being said, they’re committed. There are discussions going on that (Revolution president Brian) Bilello is having regularly. He was in our offices, presenting their annual plan. The amount of money they’re spending on stadium development and research, the amount of work they’re doing is significant. So I hope they can continue to do that and make some progress.”

For more on the stadium and the Revolution, check out the January-February issue of New England Soccer Journal, including:

* Our special report on the state of a soccer-specific stadium

* Our exclusive one-on-one with Revolution investor/operator Jonathan Kraft

Email: editor@NESoccerJournal.com