The Krafts Are the Worst Owners in the League

And that league is MLS. Bob and Jonathan Kraft might have the best reputations of any owners in American professional sports. So why don’t they seem to care about the New England Revolution?

new england revolution 4

Under the Krafts, the Revs feel stuck. Outside of PR pressure and the occasional exasperated fan Twitter or blog rant, what exactly would motivate them to seriously consider paying heaps of money to move the team to a new downtown stadium? They already own the stadium they’re in, and all the revenue streams associated with it. Plus, hosting the team in Foxboro allows at least 17 more opportunities per year to drive thousands of people to their stadium-side shopping center, Patriot Place.

Since it doesn’t appear that they want to pay for their own new stadium, the Revs’ prospects seem limited. The Krafts built their golden reputation in large part by funding Gillette Stadium’s construction mostly on their own, which makes it difficult to imagine them enduring the PR wreck of asking the public to build them a soccer stadium. Besides, the idea of giving billionaires tax breaks for stadiums has never been popular in Massachusetts. Bob has become a prominent backer of the Boston 2024 Olympic movement, and floated the idea of converting a new Olympic Stadium into something Revs-appropriate after the games. Aside from being a total pipe dream (and perhaps even a stall tactic), the Olympic gambit also seems like a side door into getting help paying for the stadium. And even if Boston does somehow wind up with the Olympics, it would mean a new Revolution stadium is still 10 years away.

As Wahl alluded, there are rumblings across the league that if the Krafts aren’t serious about the Revolution’s future, maybe another wealthy soccer-loving Bostonian should get a shot. And considering that three groups in Boston already have serious ownership stakes in major European clubs (John Henry’s Fenway Sports Group with Liverpool FC, hedge fund magnate Jim Pallotta with AS Roma, and Chestnut Hill Ventures chairman and CEO John Berylson with Millwall FC), it seems possible that there would be some willing buyers if the option opened up. Kyle Martino puts it best: “The Krafts have been very important for MLS, but it is getting to the point where if they’re not willing to see the bigger picture, it’s like, give someone a crack at reviving this team.”

 

There are often rumors that the Revs are looking to build a stadium somewhere north of Boston, where scads of yuppies and immigrants—the perfect soccer demographic!—live densely packed side by side. But that idea shares a lot of parallels with another long-promised project in the area, the Green Line extension to Somerville. It’s been on the planning board for so long that we’ll only believe it when the trains finally start running.

As far back as 2007, Mayor Joseph Curtatone acknowledged that there were discussions about building a stadium in the Inner Belt area of Somerville. That talk has since moved to Assembly Square, where an Orange Line stop is due to open this year. But as it stands now, it remains just that: talk.

Revere has also often been bandied about as a potential site, and its mayor, Dan Rizzo, even floated the idea in 2012 of building a stadium at the Wonderland Greyhound Park site, as part of the potential Suffolk Downs casino windfall. While the Suffolk Downs project has been through serious transformations since then, the stadium idea has gone nowhere, and when I contacted the mayor’s office, I was told there was no new news to report.

Of course, if the Revs could just close one of these damn deals for a soccer-specific stadium around the city, then these rumblings about selling the club would die. And no one knows that more than Revolution president Brian Bilello. When I spoke to Bilello, I asked him what everyone wants to know: Was there any new progress to report on the stadium?

“We’ve made progress on a number of sites,” Bilello said, failing to give specifics. “Some of those we’re no longer looking at, but a number of them we still are engaged on and trying to work some issues through. What I can say is we’re extremely committed to getting the project done. We think it’s critical to not only the Revolution but for the sport of soccer in this region to take this next-level jump. We all believe in it, but we also believe it needs to be in this urban region of Boston.”

When I asked specifically about Somerville and Revere, Bilello pivoted, saying there are many sites that haven’t been named publicly in the mix, and that, if they were to announce something, the Revolution would wait until the city announced the project first. Perhaps sensing my frustration, he leveled with me: “It’s absolutely understandable the frustration that our fans have. We’re frustrated as well. Really, for most fans, they’ll continue to be frustrated and continue to have doubts until they see a project with a shovel in the ground. And frankly I think that’s very fair for them. And I wouldn’t be committing to it on behalf of the organization, and the Krafts wouldn’t be committing to it, if it wasn’t something we wanted to do, and we’re committed to doing it. And again, I know there are fans that won’t believe it until they see it, but there’s no value to us saying we want to do it if we’re not really trying to do it.”

This line of rhetoric—the understanding and relating to the frustrations of the fans—appears to be a company line. In an interview in January with Kyle McCarthy for the New England Soccer Journal, Jonathan Kraft echoed the sentiment. “I totally get the frustration of fans,” he said. “We’re frustrated, too. But we’re going to solve it.”

Empathy is nice, but it’s a shabby replacement for a decent stadium. When I requested interviews with the Krafts through Revolution PR, I was never given a reason why Bob would not answer questions. Jonathan, at least, offered an explanation: He said he was too busy preparing for a Patriots playoff game.

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  • Jack McNamara

    It’s good to see this sort of thing in the mainstream press. The Krafts could murder someone on-field during a Revolution game, and you’d never know since no one would report it.

    • http://batman-news.com Tom

      Good article, and the stadium issues aside, there are a LOT of things the Krafts can do RIGHT NOW that 1) don’t cost a lot of money, 2) would make a huge impact, and 3) would increase the value of the team if they ever did sell it.

      These would be Revolution-specific signage at the stadium, a connection with history, acknowledging great Revs of the past with a “ring of honor,” running a BUS (trains have a higher break-even point) to the stadium from Alewife/Riverside on game days for a whole season and publicizing it so people will know about this option, investing in a scouting department for future acquisitions, and better media training. Jon Kraft went on 98.5 a couple of years ago supposedly to talk Revs. He spent about a minute on how lots of kids play soccer, the 1994 WC showed that there were lots of fans in the area, etc. and then he switched to the mall and Patriots for the rest of the interview. He didn’t even bother to mention that the Revs had a HOME GAME THAT NIGHT. Maybe, just maybe some lackey intern could have given him a list of 5 talking points about the Revs, since he couldn’t be bothered to research this on his own.

      We Revs fans don’t expect for the Krafts to treat us the same as the Pats, but just put in a tiny bit of effort. Several years of not even spending up to the cap (when other clubs are trying to find ways to go around it), the smallest non-playing staff in the league (you can’t sign good players if you don’t have anyone to scout them), and a total indifference to how the team operates. Coming off their best season in years, the Revs had a chance to make a move. They lost 2 of their best players, Juan Agudelo and Matt Reis, but only brought in draft picks and castoffs from other teams. Meanwhile, all our rivals have signed significant players in the off-season.

      All in all, it’s a pathetic effort, and I hope this article sheds some light on exactly how abysmal the stewardship of this team has been for 19 years and counting.

  • Adrian Martin

    Good article. Hopefully it will shame the Krafts into beginning to do a 180, or to sell the team. I remember being furious when I was at MLS Cup in DC in 2007, with hundreds of other Revs fans, and Bob Kraft didn’t even show up. For his team, playing for the championship.

    • Monty

      As much as I’m not a fan of the Krafts (for reasons mainly listed in the article), this last part wasn’t true. He was in DC. He wasn’t in Dallas though for one of those finals.

      • Adrian Martin

        I thought he was at a Pats/Jets game but checking the schedules you are correct, they didn’t play the Jets that weekend. It’s the 2006 final when he skipped it for the Jets game.

  • http://www.longlivehw.com Josh/HW

    I wish this article named the anon sources listed for comment. I’m glad Boston Magazine allowed this article to happen, thanks for shining some light.

  • Jon

    Love this. The Krafts have been awful. They deserve all the negative press they get with this. Show the Revs some respect or sell the team. The players, fans, and league deserves much better.

  • Evan Whitney

    Solid article and one that’s long overdue. Yes, the Krafts have embraced soccer in as much as its served their interests (i.e., $$$) but with respect to the New England Revolution the years of empty promises, tired rhetoric and lack of ambition are worthy of an article such as this. Its a shame that a team which is entertaining and easy to get behind is in many ways not realizing its full potential because its investor/operators aren’t throwing their full weight behind them and especially now as the rest of Major League Soccer is leaving them well enough behind.

  • bumpasaurus

    If the Krafts are the worst owners in MLS, who are the best? Are they the ones that have squeezed public subsidies for new stadiums from which they will reap most, if not all, the profits? Because that seems to be what the article is implying.

    http://www.dcfpi.org/why-is-dc-offering-more-financing-for-a-soccer-stadium-than-most-cities

    This article details the public financing given out to various soccer-only facilities for MLS. Since then, the latest plan for the new Orlando facility is reported to cost taxpayers around $50m. The Sounders play in a football/soccer stadium that cost taxpayers $300m. You get the idea.

    Kraft wanted to build Gillette elsewhere, including Boston, Hartford and Providence (the latter two were set to give him taxpayer subsidy), but those plans proved too difficult when meddlesome residents opposed them. So he decided to build Gillette with his own money — he knew that residents would be fine with it, and he also knew that the NFL has a license to print money, and he’d get a slight PR boost from paying for it himself (and while somewhat far, it’s closer to the Boston market than Providence or Hartford).

    But he hasn’t been convinced that MLS is going to be worth the same investment, not to mention the cost of land in Boston, the little availability of it, and those residents who are likely to oppose a stadium plan in say, Somerville (the most densely populated municipality in New England). If Boston wanted to give him free money to do so, like other cities, he would — that would make it better business, and he is a businessman. But it’s not a good business decision now.

    The public transportation issue is a point I agree with. It shouldn’t cost too much to run a train there as they do for Pats games, and the Krafts should work with the T and contribute funds to do so. They would recoup some of that money, perhaps all, in ticket sales, and their PR would improve.

    But while any friend of Donald Trump is no friend of mine, I don’t see the ire for Kraft here. He’s not doing anything another owner wouldn’t do — he just has located in a place thankfully unwilling to contribute public money for stadiums, and with well-organized residents and local politicians who at least sometimes listen to them.

    • Jame Mac

      The best owners? They are the ones that care about their team and can actually name players on it. This team is a tax-write off for Kraft and if you don’t see how that is frustrating to fans than I don’t know what to tell you.

      • QuantumMechanic

        Kraft was required to pay that $72 million (which was for Rt 1 upgrades) back to the state over time.

        • Jame Mac

          Borrowing public money and paying back over time at lower interest rate then the market would give is still public assistance and bumpasaurus’s link counts it as such for MLS teams.

      • Brian

        Kraft’s deal with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires him to reimburse the state for the infrastructure improvements made around Gillette Stadium. He’s paid roughly $1.5 million a year for 20 years, and the Krafts will continue making annual payments of $750,000 until the infrastructure costs are paid off.

        Look, the Gillette deal was an anomaly. Truth be told, the powers-that-be at NFL headquarters wouldn’t let an owner make that kind of deal today, as it would set a precedent for getting next to nothing in the way of state, county, or municipal investment in the stadium.

        Which, frankly, is why the Krafts are reluctant to pony-up big dough for a soccer-specific stadium for the Revolution. Given the costs they incurred building Gillette privately, they don’t have the stomach for pouring money into stadium development for the Revolution unless they secure significant public investment in the project. At minimum, they’re going to be looking at a sweetheart deal on the cost of purchasing or leasing the land the stadium would be built on. Additionally, they’re probably going to want infrastructure improvements that their public partner doesn’t expect to be reimbursed for. If they could get those contributions from a private partner, the Krafts would probably see their way clear to paying for the cost o stadium construction.

        And that’s the Catch-22: any potential public partner on a Revolution soccer-specific stadium plan is going to point to the precedent the Krafts set in financing and building Gillette Stadium and say, “We’ll take THAT deal.” In other words, they’re going to expect the Krafts to pay for construction of the stadium, while also paying market-rate for land acquisition, and agreeing to reimburse up-front infrastructure improvements made by the public entity. That’s a non-starter for the Krafts.

        • Jame Mac

          As I said to QuantumMechanic that still is a form of public assistance.

          And what nonsense are you sprouting about the NFL. It wasn’t the first time the public only paid for infrastructure improvements and it won’t be the last. Eight years after Gillette the 1.6 billion dollar stadium that is Metlife was actually build without any public assistance at all.

          • Brian

            In the case of the other NFL stadiums you claim were built with the public only paying for infrastructure improvements, in how many cases was the NFL franchise required to repay the public entity for said work?

            And no public assistance for the Giants and Jets? Tell me, how much did either team pay for the state-owned land in the Meadowlands Sports Complex that their new stadium is built on? Why is it that the Giants and Jets collect parking revenue from the lots in the Meadowlands Sports Complex throughout the year, for events being held at other facilities in the complex, even when there’s no event taking place in MetLife Stadium?

            Yeah, the Giants and Jets received no public assistance. Riiiiiiiiiiiiight.

    • Adrian Martin

      The stadium issue is FAR from the only issue fans have with the Krafts. #1 they don’t show up to home games. #2 they don’t even show up to playoff games. #3 they don’t invest in any real scouting infrastructure to identify transfer targets, hence their record with foreign players is bad. #4 they don’t understand the sort of fans in the Fort (Timbers Army-type fans) and their TeamOps employees don’t understand how to interact with fans (e.g., having fans arrested for swearing, banning flags, etc.). #5 marketing is abysmal, even in their own stadium (this is slowly changing outside of their stadium). #6 Gillette is inaccessible and they don’t make any attempt to change this for instance by running buses/trains as they do for Pats games. #7 they don’t invest in the kind of player that will win a championship, preferring to pick up cheap talent through the draft. #8 They don’t treat their players well in terms of contracts (nixing Twellman’s transfer offer from Preston North End, nixing Shalrie Joseph’s transfer offers from Celtic, and who knows what the situation was with Jose Goncalves this offseason).

      To be fair, the Krafts have done a few things well. As the article mentioned they stepped up in the 90s when the league’s future was in doubt. They also make sure their fans have always been able to watch games on TV, and the Revs academy is turning out solid players (Fagundez, Caldwell, hopefully Herivaux and Aviza and others). But how long should they be able to say “hey, we did a good thing 15 years ago, leave us alone”?

      Ultimately when you look at other owners in the league, most of them have much less money than Kraft does and yet they invest much more of their own time, money and other resources into their team, because they care about their team. It’s obvious that Kraft does not care about the Revs which is why so many fans want him to sell.

      • Bryce Larsen

        Adrian Martin was spot on with his analysis here. Very well said and hit on all the points that leaves so many New England fans upset.

    • Adrian Martin

      And in terms of the best owners in MLS, I’d say Toronto, Seattle, Portland, Kansas City and LA Galaxy.

      • Daniel Pecoraro

        Arguably Vancouver’s in there as well. All three Cascadia teams have had massive season ticket holder numbers the past three years and all three have stadia where they keep all their revenue. (And all three have artificial turf, even Portland – what’s up with that?) San Jose, too – the Wolffs seem to know what they’re doing in terms of their stadium project.

        Unfortunately there are a lot of franchises in MLS that simply don’t have solid ownerships. Erick Thohir of DC United is becoming increasingly hands-off as he shifts his sights towards Inter Milan. The Dynamo weirdly have a new downtown stadium that no one seems to attend and, because of requirements to have what seems like every high school and college football game in Harris County, the worst pitch in the league. And then of course there’s Chivas USA (which still for the record is owned by MLS – they haven’t yet found a buyer) and the weirdness of (admittedly, my beloved) Red Bull New York. (Hoo boy.)

  • Jim

    The last time I remember a much-publicized anti-Kraft article coming out was after Nicol departed at the end of the ’11 season.

    Coincidentally, perhaps, the author (I think it was Dell’Apa?) soon after wrote a “I misunderstood the situation, it’s not nearly that bad!” piece. It will be interesting to see if Mr. Alexander changes his vibe in the next few days as well.

  • Matt Terrill

    Great article guys. Nice to see some Boston media (a) pay attention to the Revs and (b) put some deserved heat on them to win and put up some cash to get with the rest of MLS.
    I’m a transplant from Kansas City (moved to Boston in 2012), and I was a season ticket holder for Sporting KC (nee Wizards) in Arrowhead (2007), in the minor league baseball park (2010) and in the first year in Sporting Park (2011). The difference is night & day. And yeah the on-field product helped, but the stadium was the biggest factor BY FAR. Purpose built for the & player fan experience to be the best. One minor quibble is that Sporting Park isn’t really urban, it’s in the suburbs by the Speedway and a shopping center, but it has extremely good highway access (crucial in KC which lacks public transit). Yes, it was “publicly financed” in the strictest sense, but the Speedway/shopping district was financed with incremental Sales Tax Revenue bonds that paid off 5 years early, so the remaining term was devoted to finance SP. I don’t have the most recent figues, but I’d be shocked if those don’t also pay off early.
    To see how thoroughly KC has been transformed the past 3 years and how much they embrace SKC just leaves me all the more frustrated that a franchise with the history of the Revs and the resources of a market like Boston can’t get with the program. I hope for and eagerly await the day when Boston soccer fans can gather at an urban soccer stadium and support a team we can all be proud of.

  • OgtheDim

    Ur history is messy.

    2.0 started in the mid aughties with the rise of supporter culture, which was already present in DC (the Screaming Eagles were the first BIG supporter group) but realy started to take off with Toronto FC. Seattle and Portland took it to another level entirely.

    3.0 MLS started last season with Dempsey and then continued with the offseason acquisitions by Toronto FC and the considerable $ being brought into NYCFC.

    (You do know there are actually MLS teams up in this weird country called Canada?).

    Good article about the Krafts but your framing references are poor.

  • Alyssa Carroll

    I think this story is rly kewl and Kevyn sounds HawT n’ also kewl but mostly I LovE KrafT MaC’N’Chez lolololjkjklolomg

  • https://twitter.com/ricpratte Ric Pratte

    Please please please sell the Revs to someone who is interested in growing the business. The metro Boston area has a great soccer fan base. I’m so jealous of Seattle, Portland, Toronto and the other growing teams. They look like they are having so much fun at the games and with their teams.
    Feels like a tremendous lost business opportunity to me.

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  • Bryce Larsen

    Fantastic article relaying the frustration of most fans. When I lived in Washington, D.C., I went to most United matches for one simple reason: RFK, as old, dirty, etc. that it was, was easy to get to. I make my way out to several NE Revs matches a year and keep up with the club, but it’s difficult when you move to the city and sell your car in order to afford rent!

    I believe in the club and admire the strides they have made in recent years, but the league is changing and the organization is being left behind. There’s a future and it’s here in the city. The amount of football/soccer-loving people I speak with all have the same complaint and it would be answered with relocation. Most would love nothing more than going to the pub in the morning, watching the Premier League, and then even meeting up with supporters of other foreign clubs to cheer on the local side. Sure, there are Eurosnobs, but most have admitted they would attend and support the side if it was a *local* team. I pray this changes soon as it’s long overdue.

    Seeing teams who have been *miserable* lately like DC United make more progress on a SSStadium is just gut-wrenching. The only other club playing in an NFL stadium still is Seattle. But, as mentioned, that is downtown near the key demographic and they’re able to fill 30K+ each match. I await the day we can see the same and imagine we would have similar results; I will be standing in line for a season-ticket when it finally happens.

  • Suarez

    “But that idea shares a lot of parallels with another long-promised project in the area, the Green Line extension to Somerville. It’s been on the planning board for so long that we’ll only believe it when the trains finally start running.”

    I see what you’re getting at here, but this is a bit ignorant. For one thing, preliminary construction work on the Green Line project has already started. The state has also dedicated hundreds of millions of dollars to the project, and the Secretary of the Department of Transportation has gone so far to say maintenance projects would be pushed back to fund the green line if it came to that.

    It has been slow moving, but the Green Line extension project is actually underway.

    As for the soccer stadium, it was my understanding that when the recession hit the Krafts believed FRIT, the investment group behind Somerville’s assembly square project, would eventually give up on the planned billion dollar project and they would be able to swoop in and purchase the land on the cheap.

    That never happened, and while there still is some land in the Assembly area that could be redeveloped, its unlikely a soccer stadium could fit on those parcels.

    Plus, FRIT doesn’t see a soccer stadium fitting with its development, and considering how much it has paid the city in one-time fees and what it will owe in annual taxes, I don’t think the city of Somerville would do something that would upset the developer.

  • Monty

    In all sincerity, thanks for writing this. Captures many of our frustrations in a well-laid out piece. The Krafts have been relatively obvious in their lack of carrying about this team. If only I had a nickel for everytime I heard someone mention that the Krafts were “committed.”

  • Hans H.

    Maybe we just need a second team in Boston… downtown boston. Name them the Boston Massacre.

    • Jeff Salisbury

      What if the team was relocated to Boston, and became just Boston FC (or at least a team with Boston instead of New England in the name)? That both makes the team totally local to the Boston area, and opens things up for other cities in the New England area to pursue their own franchises. Win/win for MLS in my opinion.

  • Paulo Simões

    I just want the team to win and for that I think we needs at least one real DP. One real DP can make such a difference right now and it’s not true that no one would come here to play. You pay they play, no doubt.

  • Gerson22

    Kansas City is a “city-based stadium?” You do know where Kansas City, Kansas IS, right?

    • http://www.goEMAW.com MIR

      Close enough, it isn’t downtown kc but it’s very close to the Johnson County population base. The KC locale is analogous to a stadium in west Newton or Natick. Speaking of Natick and Newton why aren’t people talking about the Rt. 9 area of metro west or Cambridge/Lexington (seems like there is plenty of land near Alewife) as potential areas for a stadium? I like these areas much better than places like those in this article mentioned for years.

  • Gerson22

    Also, DPs aren’t completely exempt from the salary cap. There is a cap charge to them, but it’s a small percentage of their actual compensation and the rest of it, above and beyond that, is off the books.

  • Phil A.

    Major League Soccer is growing WAY too fast to wait on Boston’s owners. The Krafts, in my opinion, are too “big” to put NE in a smaller/temporary stadium, so much as to build up an area fanbase. The only thing that club can do, short of MLS buying them out, is to sell ASAP. They’re doing nothing and suffocating a great soccer town that needs a soccer stadium very, VERY soon.

    Liverpool – who I suspect has a massive Boston fanbase – walked into Fenway (don’t bet on it) and sold the place out one summer. On the other hand, Seattle Sounders play in the downtown home of the Seahawks (which has soccer sightlines for maximum enjoyment). The club is losing far too much, in a year where MLS is poised to make The Big Jump, by playing in cavernous Gillette Stadium. Something’s gotta give, and very soon.

  • Tim

    Kraft is so hands-off that corruption in the form of nepotism and cronyism is rife in the Revs youth academy. You have an excellent chance of making a Revs academy team or becoming an employee there if you are a friend, relative or have some association to an influential employee at the revs. A good example: recently two players were added to the U13/14 academy team- the GM’s son (Burns) and the Academy Director’s son (Scales). I happen to know how these two players play and they certainly are not at the same level as any of the other players. This has created a lot of uproar in New England. The blog where this was first reported (about four weeks ago) has had over 30,000 unique views thus far:

    http://www.talking-soccer.com/TS4/showthread.php?t=117462

  • Disclaimer

    Great article. This really needed to be said. There are lots of little things I could quibble with, but the overall message is 100% right. The biggest problem the Revolution have at this point are the owners.

  • Robin Cappuccino

    As a mutli-year season ticket holder I was very disappointed last year with the media blackout regarding the Revs. It is true that what Ortiz has for breakfast is bigger news then the team making the play-offs for the first time in years.
    The people who take care of season ticket holder are excellent at what they do. The games are a great time for myself, my husband and two youngest kids. We have made wonderful friends with other fans during the seasons that we keep in touch with off-season. Most likely like Papa Karft I am not that much of a soccer fan but have come to adore our local MLS team. The players are like baseball players from a gone-by era. Once Lee Nguyen was walking towards the lockers. I stopped him and asked if he would take picture with my boys. Not only did he do it, it was with a big smile on his face and a hug for both my boys. Look into Matt Reis , I know he retired, but he gave my boys a true sport hero to look up to.
    The club has many many great things about it. I believe if Papa Karft got the word out like he does with the Patriots attendance would improve. Being a Revs fan is the best kept secret in the area.

  • Josh Hall

    For whatever reason, I really like the relegation model. There’s no way they’d let their team slip down a league/tier or two without doing anything about it. That would be motivation for me anyway to pay up for players. They do it in England, why not here?

    I get there’s more to it than that for the Revs, like the fact their stadium is so far out, but this could be one solution. If you pay for the big names, people will make the 40 minute trip.

  • Reginald Louis-Jacques

    A heartfelt thank you for writing this story. I’m so happy i could click all of the ads on this site out of love.

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVOaXNI7dbU Will Smith

    Word

  • Jose Martinez

    Great article. As a Red Bull fan, I know how frustrating it must be at this point for NE fans. Watching games at NE especially your playoff game last season was reminiscent how the back then Metrostars and Red bulls played in the cavernous Giants Stadium- no real atmosphere and a complete 2nd tier unprofessional appearance.

    Now that Chivas USA is almost gone, NE is really the team next in line for a makeover. DC can rut hehe…

  • SaidAnotherWay

    Well done Mr. Alexander and Boston Magazine. Keep pressing. Imagine this were the local NFL franchise, mired for decades in weak acquisitions, failed performances and a completely subpar game day experience. Imagine this were the only NFL franchise still playing its games in some major league baseball park — a throwback to NFL 1.0 in the 60’s, while the rest of the league was prospering under NFL 4.0. Would the media simply allow themselves to be ignored by ownership, and let management underlings skate by with ‘but, but, but, we’re really committed.’ I think not. Keep pressing.

  • James Perry

    This article is A Home run… It was hit so far ou of the park, Ortiz’s HR in the ALCS looks like a single.

    Mr. Kraft, we want a new stadium. Do you think new turf and Box goals are going to make us think we aren’t in the home of your blessed Patriots?

    Putting lipstick on a pig still is leaving a pig. Either fish or cut bait with this club

  • Brian

    For 20 seasons, Robert Kraft and his family have invested the time, effort, passion, and financial resources necessary to establish the New England Patriots as a benchmark, best-practices organization – in every facet of operation – amongst National Football League franchises. A team that was once a laughingstock amongst NFL organizations – indeed, in all of professional sports – is now a standard of excellence by which other franchises are measured.

    Sadly, for soccer supporters, the Krafts have not come close to showing the same level of commitment to the New England Revolution. I find the dichotomy between the manner in which they have elected to manage each franchise to be unacceptable.

    While I wouldn’t suggest that the Krafts must spend the same amount
    of money – dollar for dollar – on the operation of their MLS franchise
    as they do their NFL team, I am saying that they should be
    dedicated to investing the time, effort, passion, and financial
    resources necessary to establish the Revolution as a top-tier franchise
    within MLS in every facet of the team’s operation, just as the Patriots
    are a top-tier franchise within the NFL. To date, there is no indication
    that the Krafts have made that sort of commitment to the New England Revolution. Even when the team was managing to play in four MLS Cup Finals in six years, the franchise was succeeding on the field in spite of a lackluster effort in areas such as marketing, communications, supporter-engagement, etc.

    Speaking of which, I take issue with the notion that Brian Bilello has been “a really good choice” to serve as either Chief Operating Officer or President of the New England Revolution. The team’s accomplishments in the vast majority of the areas that have fallen under Mr. Bilello’s purview during his tenure in the two jobs have failed to achieve benchmark, best-practices status amongst MLS franchises. Frankly, his chief qualification for the posts he’s filled seems to have been his willingness to ceaselessly make excuses for his employers’ apathetic management of the Revolution.

    The Krafts have failed – miserably – when it comes to the
    stewardship of their MLS franchise and promoting the sport of soccer in New England. The Revolution – and, by extension, Major League Soccer – should have a greater hold on the hearts, minds, and souls of soccer fans – indeed, sports fans – throughout New England. Responsibility for failing to establish the team, the league, and the sport as more viable entities within the New England region can be laid squarely at the feet of the Krafts and the Revolution management team they’ve put in place. Said track-record shouldn’t be lauded or rewarded.

  • http://www.bowenboston.com/ Jonathan Bowen

    Bravo! I was at that regular season ending match mentioned at the beginning of the article and I was pleasantly shocked to see the number of people at the stadium. It was really refreshing after having been at other Revolution matches with half the number of patrons. I think the stadium issue could be somewhat fixed if the management would just decide to open the entire lower bowl. I hate looking over to the other side of the stadium or behind the opposing goal to see absolutely nobody sitting there. Wouldn’t it be fun if I could just go the Revolutions’ site and pick my seat anywhere in the lower bowl that I wanted? Wouldn’t I have more fun? No, I wouldn’t care if there wasn’t anybody sitting within five rows of me. Maybe I’d enjoy it even more. Oh, and the MBTA should definitely be offering regular train service to and from Gillette Stadium for all Revolution matches.

  • Rich

    Would love te see FSG step up and buy, or at least buy into, the Revs. Look at the amazing job they are with Liverpool. This would also be a good chance to create an interleague synergy much the same way Man City are doing with NYFC. Living in central NJ I go to both NYRB and Union games, both stadiums are great places to see a game. I always hated going to see NYRB in Giants Stadium.
    LFC will again fill a large majority of Fenway this summer with Roma fans filling the rest of the stadium. Why not build on a connection that already exists?

  • joe b

    I share everyone’s desire that this franchise finally move on after 20 years, but this article makes it seem alot less complicated than it actually is. It makes the point that the Revs are one of the more exciting teams . . . on the field, while neglecting to point out that the stadia atmospheres that have grown up throughout the league are also in many cases vanities.

    Let’s set aside that the Revs have had virtually no on-field success in 18 years.

    They have, on the other hand, made money, unlike many of these clubs. Only 10 teams operated at a profit as of the end of 2012, one of which was the Revs. Of the four northeast teams (NE, NY, PHI, DC), the Revs were tops, nearly tripling the Union’s profits, its next closest competitor.

    Second, a stadium is expensive, ESPECIALLY in the northeast. Red Bull Arena cost $214M in 2014 dollars. PPL Park cost $130M in 2014 dollars. The projected cost for the NYCFC arena is $400M. Boston is not significantly cheaper than the NY area; if anything, it’s more expensive because the NYC area has, at the very least, a large quantity of VERY close old industrial sites to choose from.

    Teams are DROWNING in the cost of these stadiums. New York Red Bulls have the worst operating revenue in the league, at -$6.3M. Sporting KC sells out almost every match and yet its revenue is not significantly higher than the Revs.

    The best point the article makes – and then ignores completely – is whether to do it now, because people are upset about it, or to do it right.

    This has to do with location and size.

    Size. Sporting KC and Toronto are already – only a few years after their stadia were built – looking to expand capacity in an undoubtedly awkward way. Providence Park in Portland was renovated – no joke – three years ago at a cost of nearly $40M and their fans are ALREADY looking for a new home, or a significantly expanded current home. Why build an “appropriately sized stadium” as the article puts it when “appropriately sized” is different every year, and trending upward?

    Location. Again, great point. The stadiums that have added the most value – even when they’re not filled up – are ones that are close to city centers. BBVA Compass Stadium, Providence Park, Century Link Field, Sporting Park to name a few. Those teams are happy, except the Timbers and Sporting, which are both kicking themselves over capacity. But Frisco, TX? Commerce, CO? Harrison, NJ? These were among the first to break ground and needless to say, they’re not ideally placed. I live in NJ (I lived in Boston for many years) and I can confirm that without one game having been played, Red Bull fans are more excited about NYCFC than the Red Bulls.

    Having said all that, the Revs and the Crew are in oddly enviable positions. They have CHEAP, REASONABLY SUITABLE HOMES for the foreseeable future. Their owners haven’t fooled themselves that MLS ISN’T on shakey ground – it is until the league as a whole isn’t losing money – and, when the time is right, they’ll be able to build a stadium of the “appropriate size” (how about 40,000?) and the “appropriate location” (right along the Charles, anyone?) that’ll have everyone else drooling with envy.

    • SaidAnotherWay

      The accountants view, apparently. So they should just wait. Simply continue the status quo. Sit back, and suffer the brand damage of A THIRD DECADE of sitting on their hands while the rest of the league attempts to move the ball forward. Continuing to spend next to nothing, so they can be in the ‘enviable’ position of having made next to nothing plus one.

      Yup, that’ll do it.

      • joe b

        Would you rather an 18,000 seat soccer-specific stadium in Framingham?

    • http://destroyideas.blogspot.com destroyideas

      Your points are all valid from a business perspective. But fans don’t want a team that’s just staying the course to maintain profitability when they’re losing games. They want owners who WANT to win, and invest in winning.

      • joe b

        They made the playoffs last year.

    • joe b

      Context. DC United has been working on stadium plans since 2006. It’s 2014 and there’s no application filed, much less an approval or broke ground. NEW YORK Red Bulls play in Harrison, NEW JERSEY. The PHILADELPHIA Union play in CHESTER, PA and there’s no public transportation to and from the stadium. I think NE fans will quiet down a bit when they still see NYCFC playing in Yankee Stadium and Miami FC playing in Marlin Stadium in 2024. Hey, maybe even by then some of you will even give a crap about the team!

      • SaidAnotherWay

        RB fans may carp about the trek to Harrison, but any who’ve made the Boston to Razor run will tell you they will never complain about getting to RBS again. As for NYCFC, Rev fans would be overjoyed to have ‘a stadium planned for 2018′ stake in the ground rather than the ’12-24 month’ ten year moving window of promises we’ve been treated to. As for Rev fans quieting down a bit … in the immortal words of Bugs Bunny — ‘he don’t know me very well … do he?’

  • Chris

    I didn’t go because there was a Bruins playoff game that night(soccer is my second favorite sport after hockey), but from what I’ve heard, one of the most exciting nights of the Revs’ season last year was the US Open Cup game at Harvard.

  • Ryan Hultgren

    If the Krafts personally funded Gillette then why did they have to use the state of Connecticut as leverage saying they were moving to Hartford? They must have got some sort of funding or very good tax breaks.

  • Bill Brekka

    I think most people understand that it’s not easy to build a stadium in or around Boston. However, what’s almost more frustrating than the lack of progress on a new stadium is that the team has done very little to improve the current stadium situation. The front office repeatedly says that they want to move to an urban location with access to public transportation. Clearly that would be best for the team, but that’s at least several years away even if they signed a deal tomorrow. In the meantime, it seems to me that they could do at least two things that would show they are serious about building a new stadium and improving the current situation.

    The first, as others have mentioned, is to run a train to Gillette on game days, or buses at the very least. The MBTA already does this for Patriots games, running trains from both Boston and Providence for $15 round trip. While the T might not be willing to start this on its own, I don’t see why it wouldn’t if the Krafts agreed to cover any costs not covered by ticket sales. They could even start charging $5 or $10 to park at Gillette and put this money towards the train. It might start off slow, but I think if they advertised the train and ran it consistently, it
    could become pretty popular. At the very least it would show that they are trying to make games more accessible.

    The second thing is to try to play at least one home game a year in Boston. It would be great to see the Revs play at Fenway, but Harvard Stadium or Alumni Stadium at BC could also be potential options. As far as I know, the only time the Revs have ever played in Boston is when they played at the Harvard soccer stadium last year for the U.S. Open Cup. If the Krafts want to move the team to Boston, what better way to see how the team would be received than to actually play there once in a while?

  • Mark D. Parker

    When it comes to the Krafts, they’re the ones that didn’t want DPs. They’re the ones that oppose raising the salary cap. As an MLS fan I appreciate their place in the infancy of the league. But now they are more of a hinderance. This Galaxy fan feels bad for the Revs fans that have to put up with absentee ownership that could peel off 1% of his net worth and make a huge difference in the franchise for rest of the decade. It’s sad.

  • SaidAnotherWay

    Compare the dull, indifferent, empty stadium experience of a Kraft produced Revolution MLS 1.0 game at Gillette, with this — today’s MLS 4.0 Portland v Seattle game at 3pm on NBCSN.
    It’s hard to believe this is the same league.

  • Scott E.

    Thank you for writing this article. I have been a season ticket holder since 2000. With a heavy heart, I did not renew this year. Mt financial situation has changed, and I decided that I could no longer help subsidize the Kraft family. I was 10 years old when the NASL folded. When MLS started and they finally changed the rules to match the rest of the world, I decided that it was up to people like me to buy tickets to support the league. While I seldom made every match of the season, I had not problem cutting the check each year to support my local franchise and the owners. I felt like I’d be damned if my sport failed again in this country. And it did not fail… because of people like me and because of people like Bob and Jon… But the times have changed. Now that it is here, the owners have to make an effort. You could count on my check in the past as a sign of passion and good faith. I still have the passion,,, but you’ve failed on the good faith end of things… I just watched the SEA/POR game, then tuned into the decidedly lackluster NE/DC game. Merely having a team and a stadium isn’t enough for me anymore. After all of these years of loyal support, just make some effort. I saw you build your man mall… all the while, closing off more of the stadium for Revs games to keep it profitable. The demand was there in the early days (before me…), but you made no effort. I may be back one day as a season ticket holder, but you have to earn it.

    By the way, from 2001 to 2004, I made every home game that was on the weekend… I live in Maine and drove 3 hours one way to every game. There are loads more of us… I met many of them at the tailgates. If you even bothered to put in some small effort, I’d be driving the six hour round trip again… Probably almost every Saturday that the boys in blue were in Foxboro.

    Scott E,

    • Scott E.

      By the way… In spite of everything… I know I am, I’m sure I am, New England ’til I die…

  • Ryan

    Has anyone in this comment chain considered the possibility that the real reason no progress has been made on a new stadium is because nobody actually wants one?

    Look, far be it from me as an average citizen and student of urban planning to come into your house and throw cold water over all of your hopes and dreams, but the fact of the matter is that even within the universe of sports media and sports fandom, out of all the major sports leagues in America with presence in this town, MLS in this town probably ranks eighth in popularity, behind the other four major leagues and college sports three times over. Worse than simply not talking about soccer, WEEI personalities both past and present have a history of deriding MLS and soccer in general, something which almost certainly would not go unnoticed – never mind unpunished – if there was even a fraction of the soccer support that this comment chain would have suggested.

    I think that, in actuality, most of the perception of Boston as a huge soccer town or of there being some massive untapped fanbase that just can’t get to the games – all of that is self-reinforcing. Revolution supporters are laboring inside of an echo chamber (something Rev game attendees should be quite familiar with), but outside of the echo chamber, the fact of the matter is that the majority of Boston barely even notices MLS or the Revolution and moving the team into Boston proper wouldn’t do anything to change that. What it would do is likely incite and inspire rage from a community laboring under awful mass transit in dire need of maintenance and upgrades, expensive propositions which are mutually exclusive with sweetheart deals for land or tax breaks that would drain capital away from projects like the Green Line Extension while putting the city and its transit agency in a lose/lose situation of “either this somehow works, and crush loads against our capacity constraints become so much worse on game day; or this doesn’t generate nearly enough support to overcome its price tag.”

    Meanwhile, for a franchise that calls itself a New England team, two and a half other states (Western MA might as well be some other state) have cities primed for growth, with far more land available that can be tapped into for things like a sports stadium and in at least two cases a dire need for more outdoor venue space. Providence is the same 40 minutes away that Foxboro is, but Providence is fully mass-transit enabled. It’s a tougher case for Worcester, and tougher still for Hartford/Springfield, but in all four cases a soccer stadium has an immediate use above and beyond 17 or so games a year as the centerpiece of a mixed-used development atop what was once urban wasteland and one which doesn’t carry nearly as many negative connotations as a casino.

    The fact is that there’s a lot of reasons to oppose a new venue in Boston as anything other than a replacement for an existing one, and most of the reasons why building this thing in Boston makes no sense are great arguments for building in Providence or Springfield instead.

    Hell, you don’t even have to rename the franchise.

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  • Evan Armstrong

    The Revs would do well

  • Tim

    Robert Kraft’s net worth is $2.9 BILLION

    http://www.socceramerica.com/article/57504/the-10-richest-american-soccer-owners.html?edition=11644

    184. *Robert Kraft (New England Revolution), $2.9 billion

    327. John Henry (Liverpool, principal investor via Fenway Sports Group), $1.7 billion

  • YJ

    I came across this piece only today, but want to give a rousing “Thank you” to Kevin Alexander for writing it. It’s now been nearly a decade since I first started purchasing season packages, which means it’s been nearly a decade of hearing promises and feints from the PR office about a new stadium. Of course the Krafts are great NFL owners. But if they’re not committed to soccer, then they should simply sell the team (at a handsome profit) and let someone with more vision and passion take over. The fan base is certainly there in the Boston area (just look at how stadiums fill up for international friendlies), but it will take a new owner with commitment and creativity to tap its enormous potential. Shame on the Krafts!!!!

  • Boo freddy

    a listers how what a strange calling i would bet it was the non listers that have made and continue to support the krafts fortune

  • Edward Shaw

    I’m another late-comer to this thread. I’ve been saying since the end of the 2003 season that the Krafts are out to undermine soccer, especially in the Northeast. Kraft has nothing but disdain for the player market and only retains the Revolution to ensure that it never competes for fanbase and that it limps along, scratching out a razor thin profit. Founding members or not, they should be pressured to sell the team to someone who will try to make it work. I’m really sick of the “Thank you sir, may I have another” deference to them. They are filthy rich and using that position to hobble the sport in what should be a natural market. I’ve even stopped watching MLS because of them. Now I just stream European leagues. I’ll even watch Mexican soccer on Univision, because at least they treat the sport with respect.

  • Daniel Rodriguez

    Why not Cambridge with all those tech startups booming

  • Leonardo Ordonez

    I was at the Red bull arena watching a soccer game and let me tell you that venue for soccer is spectacular the stadium has a capacity for 25000 people, and was made for SOCCER, why fans of Revolution have to play on a field marked with NFL lines and numbers this is a lack of respect, Mr. Kraft if you don’t care about soccer sell the team.