Your Move, Kraft Family: Part One Of Three
Sadly, things aren’t much better for the home support.
The cause célèbre in New England soccer circles for the has few days has been an article in this month’s Boston Magazine entitled, “The Krafts Are the Worst Owners in Major League Soccer.” While there is nothing new in the article for long-suffering Revolution supporters, it is nice to see the subject finally making its way out of the somewhat-insular world of American soccer/MLS. However, for those who do not follow the Revolution or Major League Soccer, it is worth enumerating the issues- some entirely factual, others more perceptual- no doubt many of you will have read about here in past years. Over the next three days I’d like to not only take a look at what the article had to say about the current “State of the Revs,” but also to flesh out some of my own feelings on the same (and a few other) Revolution-related subjects. I’m going to cover one topic each day, but as you might expect, there is going to be a lot of cross-over between the three subjects. Today, Gillette Stadium.
- Depending on one’s location, getting to Gillette Stadium on match day is falls somewhere between an “inconvenience” and a trek. There is no public transportation, there are no club-arranged (or financed) shuttle services, and while Foxboro is “not that far from anywhere,” it’s also “not that close to anything,” and there’s an important difference there. One cannot go to a match, “on the spur of the moment,” nor can I imagine a scenario where a casual fan decides to attend a match on a whim. For those not from New England imagining that Gillette Stadium is right off of an interstate exit ramp it is in fact 5 miles away from the interstate for those traveling north to south (the direction one would travel from Boston) and 7 miles away for those traveling west to east (the direction one would travel from the other 75% of the state that lies west of the stadium.)
- Once at the stadium the atmosphere is, in a word, terrible. Not for lack of enthusiasm, and not even as a result of the clubs struggles on the field in recent years. The problem is that with crowds that generally range between 15,000 and 20,000, the stadium is never even one third full. There is no seating plan so creative as to successfully combat this fact. For many years the club restricted fans to one side of the stadium to make it appear more full on television, now fans are generally restricted to the “lower bowl” of the stadium with nothing but tarp covered emptiness above them. Just as detrimental to the atmosphere is that because American football requires such endless acres of sideline space even the best seats for Revolution matches seem distant from the field- both physically and emotionally. Finally, as though one’s attendance at the match has not been marginalized enough, concessions are not only limited in offerings, but also tend to be grouped towards the entrance to the stadium- the “lighthouse and bridge” end for those who’ve seen the stadium only on television. This means long walks for a lot of supporters and long lines for everyone at halftime.
- And then there is the issue of a soccer-specific stadium. The information in this article can only serve to further infuriate supporters on the topic. The “party line” on this issue from the Revolution is exactly what it has been for almost a decade, “It’s important, we’re working on it, it’s going to happen,” but coupled with an absolute refusal to to commit to a site other than the vague “metro-Boston area” and a further refusal to even discuss anything even resembling a time line. Wash away all of the double-speak from that and you get two things: “You can’t prove we’re not trying to make this happen, so therefor we are working on it” and “It’s never going to happen while the Kraft’s own this club because regardless of how things go at Gillette we either a) have another revenue stream with little overhead cost and b) if we lose money on the club we can just write it off on our taxes.”
Tomorrow we’ll look at the impact that the Kraft family and it’s business practices have had on the actual, on the field, “product”: the players. What players have to say about the stadium, why the team has trouble brining in players through any route other than its own academy, why the club has never had a “true” Designated Player, as well as a number of other issues.
I look forward to your participation via the comments section.