You ever have one of those things that no matter how hard you try to understand, you just can't. You know those things that you want to just let slide, but you can't. Heck it even went so far as I tried to defend this to others, I am not a good peacemaker. In the end this simply struck me as a bit offensive but clearly as something that seems to not have been well thought out, and to some a bit offensive.
On the eve of MLS First Kick, Don Garber the leader of MLS and it's marketing partner SUM said the following when interviewed by Grant Wahl for SI:
I'd like to get to the point where our MLS Cup is in the home of the team that earns the right to host it, as opposed to a neutral site. That's a goal we hope to achieve. We were not able to get to that point this year for a variety of reasons, not least that we're still struggling with stadium availability in many markets and weather. We dodged a bullet hosting a Champions League game in Salt Lake in the first week of March. I shudder thinking about what would happen if we had that with MLS Cup. Most of our fans don't accept how much time we spend thinking through all these issues. While the pundits believe the easiest answer is the one that appears to be the most logical, the factors that go into each decision are varied and complicated, and we have to prepare for all scenarios. We don't live in a perfect world by any stretch.
In 2009 MLS Cup was in Seattle with a high of 48 degrees and their average is 49, in 2010 MLS Cup was in Toronto where the temp hit a high of 46 but the average is 38. Yet you seem intent on pointing out the potential of cold in Salt Lake City, but on the date of MLS Cup the average is 46 degrees. Yes a whole 3 degrees colder than Seattle, but 8 degrees warmer than a city you selected to host MLS Cup. So your arguments about weather simply don't hold any real weight, and you do an incredible disservice to the fans of Salt Lake City, and MLS in thinking that they won't attend MLS Cup, or matches in cold weather.
more after the jump:Now don't get me wrong I believe that a warm venue would be great but limiting yourself to only those markets (what do you consider "warm weather"?) is kinda doing a disservice to the fans. I expect they would have filled Pizza Hut Park for MLS Cup with FC Dallas playing in it. You got a huge pop in Seattle because the tickets were part of their season tickets (it wasn't a great venue for the fans of the teams playing who either had to buy scalped tickets or got to sit in the 3rd deck). You had nothing but chaos for the fans of Toronto who were forced to buy tickets to MLS Cup in order to get 2011 season tickets, and half of them left at halftime and it has been a major point of contention with their fans since then. So is the weather a deciding factor on where to hold MLS Cup
You say you want to give the best team in MLS Cup the right to host it, but then you say you can't do that this year? If you can't do it in 2011, because of weather or stadium availability (please list which stadium have another event planned for the Sunday before Thanksgiving) what are you expecting to change for 2012 and beyond? I am sorry I get that you love to hold meetings and other events with MLS Cup and you want to plan months in advance, but how about you stretch your staff and a before MLS Cup you plan based on the 4 teams in the Conference Finals (or MLS Cup Semi-finals) and then you have one full week to cancel events in 3 and schedule in 1.
If you can't handle that pressure now, what makes us think you will in the future? Or how about you hold your meetings the week after MLS Cup in somewhere nice and warm and leave MLS Cup to be MLS Cup?
I think they've already made a serious run. The event I attended a couple weeks ago in Salt Lake was a special moment for the league. I spent the day there, and the match was well-promoted and had a higher awareness than any other Champions League match I had attended in the past. I had lunch with Dave Checketts yesterday and said to him, "You have really put something great together in Salt Lake." Because the attendance at that match and the passion of those fans showed it really has become a soccer town. And before 2005, the sport was nonexistent in the city. That proves to me if you have the right owner with the right marketing and operations with the right facility, any market can be a soccer city.
I find it highly offensive as a RSL season ticket holder (from day one) who has braved the Fiji hail/snow storm of 2007, as one who has when it snowed during a RSL match joined in with others in singing x-mas carols and rejoicing in the circumstances. To think for a second that RSL fans or any other fan in a "cold weather" market wouldn't show up to support their team in MLS Cup is simply an insult to all MLS fans.
If you want to make excuses about your events and meetings, then make it clear that it is the reason why you chose random locations for MLS Cup, do not tell the fans that you want to have them at the home stadium of the higher ranked team but are afraid that they won't show up if it is cold. Be honest that your staff needs weeks even months to schedule things like the blogger roundtable, supporters' summit, award banquets, I can deal with that, heck I can almost accept it, but to lay the burden on the weather and suggesting that should RSL, Chicago, New England, or any other city with a team that could one day host MLS Cup as the higher seed in the match wouldn't be able to get their fans to show up because of the cold, is simply not true.
You are better than this, and we the fans will hold you to a higher standard. There is a saying around Real Salt Lake "Fortes fortuna adiuvat" Fortune favors the bold, make a bold decision and don't give the MLS Cup to LA or anyone else. Let the best team earn the right to host it, and I am willing to bet that the fans will reward that decision in a big way.
OFF MY SOAPBOX