Horrible Timing: $115M Soccer Stadium, No ESPN

If Philadelphia fans were having a bad day dealing with the aftermath of yet another Eagles collapse, it’s probably getting even worse for Delaware County, the suburban Philadelphia site of the city’s new MLS team. According to the DELCO DAILY TIMES, the Delaware County Council finally approved the sale of $28.6 million in bonds — an investment that will cost the county $1.77 million annually in interest — to help fund its half of F.C. Philadelphia’s new stadium. The entire stadium will cost $115 million, but that’s a whole different issue of over-the-top spending. Normally, the approval of the bonds would be good news, but given the fact that we also learned this afternoon that ESPN is pulling out of its weekly Thursday night television deal with the league, that $28.6 million+ investment might be worth a lot less sooner rather than later.

ben franklin scarf
(Ben Franklin loves soccer, but we think he would have admonished this deal.)

So what does that mean for the league? It means that its franchises are being downgraded by ESPN, which can only hurt their relative sale-on value. Add to that the league’s crippling salary cap, anemic attendance figures in all but four or five cities, and a general creeping feeling that its quality is abysmal on the global market, and the MLS is looking more and more like a dead-on-arrival league.

Let’s recap: Suburban Philadelphia residents just spent some $30 million, plus $1.7 million annually, to build a hulking stadium for a club that may hardly have a viable league by the time the stadium is done. Oh, and the park is miles from the city, without public transportation. Talk about a bad idea.

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