DC United ownership shakeup might be just the tonic needed

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.

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3 thoughts on “DC United ownership shakeup might be just the tonic needed

  1. Eh, DC United doesn’t need practice fields. Don’t the Redskins practice way out in Leesburg? They could try to use the same fields. The Broncos practice about 15 miles away from Invesco Field. So what’s the big deal? Just throw a stadium as close to a metro stop as possible. Even if you have to do the unthinkable – put it in Anacostia

  2. I think McFarlane’s departure has more to do with his personal investment losses than for United’s failed attempts at a stadium. That said, I do think that McFarlane probably felt a little stretched after spending so much of his time in the DC area tying to get United a stadium.

    As for whether this is good or bad, I think it’s a bad thing. Any time you have someone as wealthy as McFarlane decide to withdraw his investment, it’s a bad thing.

    Additionally, I’ve also thought the whole mixed-use development angle that McFarlane played was his way of fitting into DC United’s mission statement of winning championships and serving the community.

    Of course, McFarlane’s stadium project was probably just as bold (and disappointing) as DC United’s goal of being a regional powerhouse. When was the last time we won an international competition? I’m just saying.

    The good news is that Chang is still around and seems to be just as committed to the club as ever. I would like to see someone else step in to help the team cover its financial losses, but having a committed owner (and CEO with Payne) at least makes me feel somewhat secure in the team’s ability to stick around.

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