Saturday, March 1, 2008

My early thoughts on the arrival of the Golden One and why the April 1 stadium deadline makes me nervous

Wow, as Glenn Davis says, "Game On!"

Y'know, throughout the offseason I looked on in mounting trepidation as many other MLS teams were highly, highly active and the only thing Dynamo was seemingly doing was looking forward to a crowded fixture schedule and losing Joseph Ngwenya and Nate Jaqua. Then the last two weeks happened and I'm starting to get spoiled. "What? What do you mean there's no Dynamo news happening today? What's going on?"

In the last 10 days, the champs have:

1. Destroyed Sydney FC 3-0
2. Gotten beat down by Gamba Osaka 6-1
3. Signed Argentine Franco Caraccio
4. Brought in perennial winner Oscar De La Hoya as a new, and seemingly very active, co-owner; and
5. Set a deadline for stadium negotiations with the City of Houston for April 1.

Have I missed anything?

So, here are my quick takes:

1. Good and fun
2. Laughingly bad
3. Franco who? Guy seems green, but I refer back to my mantra of "Trust in Dom...Trust in Dom..Trust in Dom..." And even though Kinnear said he has never seen the guy play live, based on past performance, I feel like trusting him is like trusting Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man when he says to take another hit when you've got 19 on the blackjack table. Just do it, OK?

And that's the end of the quick takes, because these next two are going to take some time.

Bienvenidos Oscar. There's nothing in the Golden Boy's resume to suggest that he ever loses at anything. Geez, what do you want? He has had doubters are every step of the way in everything he has ever done, and you know what's he's done each time? Proven them waaay wrong. Too small to win at Olympic boxing? Too small and slow to win a prizefight? Too American to receive Mexican support? Too Mexican to receive American support? Too inexperienced to to succeed at boxing promotion? Too into boxing business to succeed in the ring? OK, that's 6-0 for De La Hoya here, alright?


Anything else? Oh yeah, now we can add, never been in soccer and thus cannot lead an MLS team.

Now, y'know, I'm not measuring the trophy case for that third Rothenberg trophy just yet here. But I really don't see a downside. I'm desperately looking for one and here's the best I can come up with:

Not even remotely local. As my brother wrote to me the other day:

De la Hoya also, to my knowledge, has little or no contact with the Houston business scene. This argues for maintaining the existing management structure of the Dynamo (and really, why would Golden Boy Prod want to change the model that's working so well?).

It would be so much better for a Houston entity to purchase the team. Is there not a Houstonian-led group who could purchase the Dynamo??? Tilman Fertitta, perhaps? But if we're going to have absentee, corporate ownership, that damn lease for the new stadium better be air-tight!

One other at least potential negative about Golden Boy Productions, they are a relatively new sports company, having been around just about 10 years now. All they do are prizefights. This would be an expansion of their business, and something about which they have almost no experience. We may be begging for a return to AEG if they can't pull this off.

So bottom line, they are not local and they are not experienced. But they are Hispanic owned and they have cash. I see storm clouds on this one.

Yes, I also see the storm cloud potential on this one. And both Bernardo Fallas and Glenn Davis specifically asked the Golden Boy about this. First, here's Glenn Davis' thoughts on the matter:

If you were worried about De La Hoya not being involved locally you can think again.
Just listen to his interviews and his desire for this market for both soccer and boxing.
Charismatic , young, intelligent and ambitious is a great combination for someone who gets the importance of soccer both locally and globally.
MLS had courted De La Hoya to buy a new franchise but he elected to buy into the Dynamo.

And here's what De La Hoya himself had to say:

To Davis:

“Well I have been an MLS fan for quite a while now and ever since I can remember I have loved soccer and especially now that Houston is the back-to-back champions you tend to pay more attention not only to the team that one but also the city. We go way back where we first staged our first boxing event many years ago; Houston is a great boxing and soccer town. I remember having various meetings with my colleagues and executives at Golden Boy. If we can ever do boxing events in Houston maybe once a month let’s take advantage of the opportunity so I have been spending quite a while in Houston . I travel to Houston quite often and it is a city I really enjoy.”


“Absolutely, the surface has just been scratched and the possibilities are endless for the MLS and especially for the Houston Dynamo. I have been now religiously following the Houston Dynamo for quite a while now. This is such an exciting moment for me personally because when you have an opportunity to join or be part of a team who is just coming off great success it is really a big thrill and an honor and we have to make sure that the level of integrity and level that the Houston Dynamo have been for quite a while we make sure we keep it like that and make sure the fans are happy and Houston Dynamo live on forever.”

and finally:

"The league overall has done a tremendous job you have to commend the commissioner and everyone else who has been involved in structuring in putting together to what the league is today. Like I said before this is only the beginning soccer will grow and expand. Houston Dynamo will have a stadium to play in. I am very positive that the city will make sure that all the fans in Houston will have a home, a home to cheer on their favorite team. I can not wait to wear my orange jersey and be part of (El Batallon) crew that they have down there cheering on our team.”

Here's what he told Fallas:

Q: When this all said and done, the team will still lack local ownership. Houston sports fans are used to having a visible owner, which the Dynamo don't have. Will you be a visible owner?

A: Absolutely. If I have to buy an apartment in Houston I will buy an apartment in Houston. I am dedicated to being part of a championship team and Houston will see my face very often. It's an exciting time for us. The passion and drive is there from our part.

And here he is at the rally yesterday:

and then this one:

So, I remain cautiously optimistic on this.

And about the April 1st deadline on plans for Dynamo Park, there has been nothing but positives on this story so far, except for the slow pace of the negotiations. De La Hoya's now active involvement (Who knows how active he was up to this point? My guess is not that much.) can only speed things up. This is all sheer conjecture on my part and with any negotiations with a municipality, I am well aware that things can turn south rather quickly, but I see nothing in the run-up to this point to make me think anything other than good thoughts. Last year, before the playoffs began, Mister3d made this prediction for the playoffs: "Predicting Dynamo to win it all makes me happy, so I predict Dynamo to win it all again." Similarly, on April 1st, I expect to gather again in Jones Plaza or on the site the city is about to purchase just east of downtown, and party at the announcement. The thought makes me happy, so I predict it will happen. So there.


Anonymous said...

That's great news. It's about time the pro soccer team in the city with the 3rd largest Hispanic and 3rd largest Mexican populations in the U.S. had a Hispanic player. I kept wondering why all these New England-looking dudes were playing in Houston...

Martek said...

It did look odd, especially with the level of Dynamo's Hispanic support in Houston. Still, it's all about the back of the net, not isn't it? If he finds it often, he could be any race and it wouldn't matter. Similarly, if he doesn't......