In case you missed it, DC United’s ownership structure changed rather suddenly this morning. Will Chang and former co-Executive Chairman Victor MacFarlane have split, with MacFarlane exiting stage left and Chang taking the overwhelming majority of the operation.
Given that MacFarlane’s drive in being involved with United was not only getting a stadium built, but having be part of a multi-use, big-deal retail area that would work for him as a real estate investor, him leaving might actually be a good deal for United.
That’s not meant as an insult to MacFarlane. He did the best he could. While I think United should have brought more to the table in their failed deal in Prince George’s County, Maryland, I can understand why MacFarlane felt it was a good idea to make a go of it there. And hell, it doesn’t seem like there were any other options.
But what United needs is a stadium. That’s it. All the other revitalization stuff is nice, but it adds a lot to the party on both sides – there are certainly positives, but there is more for the community to oppose as well – not to mention how it drives up the cost. A $200 million stadium project just isn’t going to fly right now.
I can’t sit here and tell you I know what Chang’s plan is to get some sort of stadium deal done somewhere in the DC area. But I do know this – it’s clear that no one in the area wanted the deal that MacFarlane was offering. If there was any hint of a deal out there, he wouldn’t be getting out now.
What Chang must do in some sense is drive down expectations. Now, it’s all about getting a simple stadium – one with a couple practice fields and some nice fields and incentives for the youth soccer organizations in whatever locality they go to in the region. If it seats 18,000 and isn’t exactly the most luxurious stadium ever seen – fine. It just needs to get done. Now is not a time to be picky.
I know there may be some that look at this as a death blow for keeping United in the area. I just don’t buy that. Yes, a deal like the one MacFarlane was pushing isn’t going to happen. But no one was going for it anyway.
Now, we’ll see what Chang brings to the table. It’s only fair for the fans to give him a chance given his open communication with them and him being the much more accessible part of the duo since they bought the team early in 2007.
I know the change is kind of stunning. But sometimes the right move isn’t always simple.