I’ve thought in the past that Phil Anchutz may not be the great savior of the sport in this country that many make him out to be. Perhaps the shin on his halo is starting to wear off.
Sometimes you need a dose of reality to see the real world. I’ve never been a huge fan of the way Galaxy GM Doug Hamilton takes season ticket holders for granted. The focus of the Galaxy Front Office has always seemed to be on corporate clients rather than on the individuals who invest their own hard earned money (at least $500/person/year…and that’s not counting the over priced concessions) to attend games there. Now, corporate sponsors pay a ton more and bring in a ton more. That’s a given. But my thought has always been that the corporate sponsors will get more for their money if/when the stadium is full of loyal fans who will support those sponsors. But AEG/MLS knows best and Doug Hamilton keeps winning Executive of the Year awards at the close of MLS seasons.
In Chicago, Peter Wilt has built arguably the strongest, most loyal fan base in the league. But that’s not good enough for the AEG powers. They have announced that he’s being replaced by someone who has run what many believe has been the most disappointing franchise in MLS.
Metrostars have done nothing as far as attendance in their 9 years of existence….and their trophy cabinet contains nothing but dust. Up till now, Wilt has been the only GM in Chicago history. The team won its first MLS Cup in their expansion season and has added to that trophy since then. They are one of the best attended teams in the league and their fans travel in better numbers than any other MLS team. So why are they bringing in someone who has run a half-assed team? The reason given is that with the new stadium being built for the Fire, they need someone to light a “fire in the belly from a sales perspective in the organization.”
So, the priority is bringing in as much income as possible. Never mind the nearly 100 Chicago fans that showed up hours after the announcement at a pub in Chicago to meet with Peter Wilt and voice their concern about the move. How many MLS teams would get that many fans to turn up for anything on such short notice? Certainly not the faithful in the Big Apple.
I really think AEG are missing out on long-term gains by focusing on the short-term needs here. But AEG call the shots and as long as they own about half the league, I’m sure they’ll continue to make more moves like this at the expense of the loyal fans.