Thursday, May 11, 2006
MLS Commissioner Don Garber met with a potential D.C. United investment group yesterday and continued to stress the importance of the club getting a single-team ownership group and a soccer-specific stadium during a meeting with local reporters.
Global Development Partners, a Northern Virginia real estate firm, was in line to purchase United from Anschutz Entertainment Group until that deal fell apart in January, and United President Kevin Payne has led the search for a new buyer.
Garber said that Anschutz Entertainment Group, which operates four MLS teams, could decide to make United the one team it continues to operate, or could enter into agreements with a new ownership group. Garber declined to identify the group he met with yesterday, but said that the potential for a soccer-specific facility at Poplar Point in Anacostia has made the team attractive to would-be investors with an interest in real estate development, and that locating a single-team ownership group would help cement United's status as a model franchise.
"Every other aspect of it, I don't think we could have written a book any better, but now we're at that point that we've got to take it to the next level," Garber said. "The market's right. The fan base is right. You need a stadium and you need a local owner."
Garber declined to set a deadline on finding a new ownership group, saying there was no reason to rush into a sale.
Garber, who is touring MLS cities this month, will be in Toronto today to announce the name of that city's expansion franchise. He said the league hopes to settle on a city for its 14th team -- either St. Louis or Cleveland -- by the All-Star Game in August, and plans to add two more teams before the end of the decade.
-- Dan Steinberg