MLS Commisar Don Garber zipped through the City of Roses this week, studying our potential as an expansion city under the enormous hyper-powered magnifying glass he carries with him everywhere he goes. In the course of his travels, he took some time to talk to Oregonian sports columnist John Canzano on his popular sports-talk radio show. You can listen to the resulting awkwardness here.
Sports-talk is not a friendly environment for soccer—I think we all know this. To each their own, etc. I'm proud of "the soccer group" (see two sentences below) for building a sport without the support of the sports media mafia, which deep down just wants to protect its little piece of turf from incursions by subjects it doesn't collectively know much about.
Canzano and his charming cohost treated Garber with a notable lack of country hospitality, repeatedly and insistently referring to his product as "minor league." At one point, "the soccer group" (guess that's us) was referred as "hippie, granola, liberal..." (Ha. There are some skinheads these guys should really meet.) I would like to say that it amazes me that paid-up journalists still spout this stuff in 2007, but then again I work in the business.
On the other hand, there is another issue in play. Major League Soccer and the Timbers ownership group are talking about a possible $20-million, publicly financed retrofit of PGE Park to make it Beckham-worthy. To the extent that Canzano treated that idea with healthy skepticism, I salute him.
Public stadium financing is almost always a ripoff, amounting to a subsidy of some of the least needy people in America. Now, PGE Park is actually city-owned, which might move it into a slightly different category than the outright hand-outs most sports franchises seek; I'm not convinced of that, at least not yet. I would love to see MLS here, but not at any price. Garber and Timbers owner Merritt Paulson should be made to answer some tough questions—maybe even Canzano-esque questions—before they get a dime of tax money.