Commentary

Money to be made in stadium game

WHAT'S IN A NAME? Credit Colorado for jumping on the lucrative academy bandwagon and dressing it up with a prestigious name, as done in Los Angeles (David Beckham Academy) and Real Salt Lake (the Real Madrid Something-or-Other.)

The Arsenal Centre of Excellence (note the clever "English" spelling) will be housed at Dick's Sporting Goods Park as part of the marketing partnership announced by the clubs last week. By the time the Centre is opened, the Rapids might have a new nickname and one guess is all that is needed to know which English club Rapids vice president Jeff Plush would like to name the team after.

Denials by Plush notwithstanding, a team employee confirmed that idea had been seriously pondered and is by no means beyond the realm of possibility for the future. This would put Colorado aside the many great youth teams of America, such as Alta Loma Arsenal of Southern California and Ft. Collins Arsenal in the Rapids' home state, that have adopted the name. Why use a nickname that evokes the rugged, majestic, natural beauty for which the state is world-famous?

Much too complicated to explain is the fact Arsenal is not a nickname, it has a nickname, the Gunners. But the trend to Europeanize MLS, if in names if nothing else - Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas, Toronto FC, Houston Dynamo, D.C. United, etc. - isn't likely to abate. Some of them work, some don't.

Of course, to date, only a Mexican-based team has Americanized its name. Well done, Chivas USA!!

TAKEOVER? The deal triggered hysterical speculation in the English press about operator-investor Stan Kroenke making a bid to take over Arsenal in the manner of American sports entrepreneurs Malcolm Glazer (Manchester United), Randy Lerner (Aston Villa), and Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr. (Liverpool) during the past two years.

Hicks and Gillett pledged to move forward quickly to build a new stadium at Stanley Park at a cost of 215 million pounds ($430 million). They will pay a total of 470 million pounds ($940 million) to take over the club, settle the club's debts, and build the stadium. And the Gunners wouldn't come nearly so cheap.

Any Arsenal takeover would likely include the freshly minted Emirates Stadium, which cost 357 million pounds ($714 million) and in addition to Premier League and Champions League games, has hosted two Brazil friendlies, which netted more than 1 million pounds ($2 million) in rental income for the club.

Kroenke's investment in DSGP is more modest, yet substantial. Kroenke Sports Enterprises reportedly paid half of the estimated $130 million cost of building the facility, which includes 24 soccer fields. It recouped nearly $30 million just for the naming rights for the first 20 years of operation. The soccer capacity of 18,000 can be expanded to 26,000 for the concerts Kroenke hopes to stage.

There's money in those stadiums, on both sides of the Atlantic.

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