Elk Grove Proposed Soccer Stadium Plods On - Is Davis Just Trying to Save Face?

January 29, 2015 | As expected, at last night’s regular meeting, the Elk Grove City Council decided by a 4-1 vote to seek annexation ...

January 29, 2015 |

As expected, at last night’s regular meeting, the Elk Grove City Council decided by a 4-1 vote to seek annexation of its 99-acre site that is outside of current city limits, and more significantly, continue its pursuit of a 9,000-seat, $45-million dollar stadium.

For long time observers of the Elk Grove City Council, the vote came as no surprise. Mayor Gary Davis’s pursuit of his soccer stadium was enabled by council members including his protégé, Steve Ly, frenemy Steve Detrick, and the newly appointed Darren Suen. The only council member showing some wisdom on the matter, and who voted against Davis, was Vice Mayor Pat Hume.

While there is widespread community support for the competitive aspect of the proposed soccer facility, Davis is laser-focused on bringing a soccer stadium to Elk Grove whether we have a professional team or not.

We view this charade as a face-saving exercise for the Mayor.

In realistic terms, while the Mayor says otherwise, Major League Soccer (MLS) has long said they desire urban locations and demographics for future expansions. Even though Davis said Elk Grove could be a back-up location to Sacramento last night, we wonder; Is the mayor unaware of Sacramento’s begging-to-be developed-railyard?

If MLS selects Sacramento as an expansion site, is there a need for another 9,000 seat stadium? The prospect of locating a North American Soccer League (NASL) to fill the stadium, is unrealistic. 

The NASL draws an average audience of about 5,500 per match. More importantly, what investor would want to use their money to compete with the MLS, the premier soccer league in the United States in a supposed soccer-crazed market like Sacramento? 

It would be like moving the Toledo Mudhens to the Bronx. Oh sure, Max Klinger might come for a Stroh’s and Tony Packo’s, but the rest would go see the Bronx Bombers.

What if Sacramento doesn’t land an MLS expansion club? Ever hear of the Sacramento Republic FC? 

Mayor Davis also suggested that a woman’s professional soccer league could locate in the proposed stadium. With all due respect to women athletes, those class of professional  leagues have never gained a true foothold in the American sports viewers psyche and it seems like a very risky scheme to pin on the necks of taxpayers.

Elk Grove had a one-game experiment in July, 2013 staging a semi-professional women’s soccer match. The match drew maybe two or three dozen people to the Elk Grove High School football stadium.  

No letting up, the mayor also suggested the field could be used as a concert venue. This too is problematic as the city of Rio Rancho, New Mexico learned. 

At 9,000 seats, the stadium is too small for A-list acts - think anyone from Jay-Z to the Fleetwood Mac who would perform at Sleep Train arena - and too big for up-and-coming acts. 

In addition mid-range acts are increasingly performing at Indian casinos. For instance, acts like Peter Frampton and Cheap Trick are being booked at places like Thunder Valley, which are more desirable audience venues.   

Ironically, at last night’s meeting Elk Grove City Manager Laura Gill announced the Sacramento Kings ownership group bought a large stake in the Sacramento Republic FC. This obviously is a strong signal of that groups security and a selling point to the MLS.

There was even a moment last night where Davis acknowledged the reality of his situation. 

“We should focus on the youth,” he glumly said.

Speaking to several of the soccer parents in the lobby following the matter, this group uniformly acknowledged the stadium component was unrealistic. Perhaps they are not commenting on this and rather keeping their eyes on the prize of getting the soccer fields started.  

Notwithstanding the reality of the Kings ownership stake in Sacramento Republic FC, and not to mention the fuzzy-financial-details of the whole scheme, the Mayor has persevered.

We know Ly is obediently supporting his mentor, but are puzzled why Detrick and Suen are enabling this delusion. Perhaps the Detrick-Ly-Suen enablers are going along to help Davis save face in an otherwise embarrassing situation.

Davis, who is a charactercher of political ineptitude, has wagered what little political capital he has left in this scheme. At some point, the mayor will need to awake from his dream and come to the realization the stadium ain’t gonna happen. 

So as the mayor and his enablers continue this delusion, like someone practicing defensive driving, he will need to leave himself an out. Instead of admitting defeat, the Mayor will see this through to  its death to save face and place the blame on something or someone else. 

“I tried everything," the Mayor will proclaim. "But the forces conspired against me.”  

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P.T. Barnum said...

Ice Rink-zip
Great Mall-zip
Olympic high dive-zip
Zaha Hadid civic center-zip
Train station-zip
$12 million Old Town-zip
HCP Habitat Plan-zip
Wayfinding Signs-in the mail?
Plastic Elk along freeway-MIA?
SOI-strike one

Anonymous said...

While I will not be speaking to the Stadium, I do have some concerns about the Youth Soccer fields. The report says there will be 12 tournament fields measuring 80 x 120 yards. Does this not eliminate many of the younger players using the fields? It also says "limited spectator viewing from sidelines". This makes no sense to me as we all know in our travels to games that what we enjoy most is watching our children play from the sidelines. What am I missing here??

Anonymous said...

“I tried everything," the Mayor will proclaim. "But the forces conspired against me.”


Or maybe it was recognized as a stupid idea by an informed group of people. Those forces are also known as "constituents," "residents" or simply, "voters?"

Grow up, Gary. We've been expecting you to stop being the victim and start leading. We now recognize that isn't likely to happen.

You've wasted our time and you've wasted our money. Worst of all, you've abused our trust with these silly shenanigans.

Say goodnight, Grace Coffee Roaster.

EGN said...

Anon 20:14,

I normally don't participate in the forums here other than to clarify things. I'll share some of my experiences and observations on this matter though.

Your point about the smaller fields brings up a very good point. Having raised five sons with an 11-year gap between the oldest and youngest, all of whom participated in recreational level soccer here in Elk Grove, there were Saturdays were we were running all over Elk Grove. For a couple of years we had all five in soccer. It would have been nice to have a centralized facility.

Having said that, yes the fields were smaller for the younger kids. Furthermore, and this is a point not mentioned in deliberations, all of the fields were provided by the CSD and school district, and as far as I could tell free, or very lower user charges. It has been about 10 or 11 years since my youngest son participated, and as I recall, the registration fee was about $100. Most of that cost went for insurance purposes.

My first question is this - are the large fields going in be split into two fields for Saturday matches? I suspect the majority of the 6,000 kids in Elk Grove soccer are in the recreation level and are 10 years and younger and don't need the regulation sized fields.

Beyond that, how much will registrations cost? The fields have to be paid in some manner and the city will have to charge the league for use of the fields on a Saturday morning. The debt to finance building the facilities has to be paid in some way. What will it cost to register even a recreational level participant? If I was paying $100 10 years ago for free use of local fields, how much will it cost each kids to use the city's soccer facility? $400, $500 per kid? This needs to be disclosed. If the cost goes through the roof, I suspect many hard-working families well have to forgo enrolling their kids in soccer and there goes the 6,000 Elk Grove kids who participate in soccer.

Conversely, if the city subsidizes our local soccer leagues, they will have to charge higher fees for use of the fields for tournaments and other uses such as concert. Will they be pricing themselves out of the market compared to lower cost facilities such as Cherry Island or the forthcoming Lincoln-Rocklin-Roseville soccer facilities? Will the city be able to fulfill its bond debt obligations?

Even though the mayor has a youth sports foundation, will there be enough money there to go around to ensure all the kids who want to participate can? This city's well regarded youth soccer leagues might become an exclusive organization restricted to only those families can afford to join because of high registration costs.

The city has done a very poor job of communicating and examining the user fees that will be charges to parents. Our city council needs to examine and tell citizen that our kids will be able to use this facility for the lowest possible cost.


Anonymous said...

David Beckham, really? Get real Gary.

Bob L said...

Ok, this is a dead horse. With Kings and 49ers ownership supporting the railyard facility, Kevin Johnson's national recognition, and a first class presentation to the MLS Board, it's transparently and obviously clear that Sacramento, not Elk Grove, is the site for a regional MLS team.

Especially true when considering Elk Grove's contingent transported the MLS Board to a vacant field with a dozen balloons placed willie-nillie over the parcel in a non-descript white van. Neither the mayor of his $100,000 local MLS Board member (Nunez) thought enough to even show up.

So we'll now spend over $100 million, to build a stadium that no one will play in? I can b-a-n-k-r-u-p-t-c-y, can you?

I realize this whole thing may well be an end run to get the SOI back in front of LAFCo and get it pushed through, but if deception is needed to get the SOI passed, then it likely isn't a prudent plan at all, right? Is the LAFCo Board so stupid as to believe this soccer stadium is viable?

They are idiots if this is what they base their decision on.

Warren Buffett said...

When special interest groups pack the city council chambers to push forward their special "wants", I firmly believe that even if the true cost of their pet projects were disclosed, it is never their intention for themselves to bear that cost. No, they fully intend for all of us to share the cost burden--irregardless of whether we high-dive or play youth soccer.

Watch your wallets has become my latest mantra I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the 49ers have agreed to invest in Sacramento Republic FC. Time for Elk Grove to shut it down and give Nunez his walking papers. Too bad we can't do the same with Mayor Davis, aka Beckham.


Anonymous said...

Who is going to run this facility and maintaining it? The city or a contractor? At what cost?

In youth soccer the spectator area is a part of enjoying the game and watching your kids play. Limiting the area for spectators for more field space is foolish and will not be considered a desirable location to host tournaments and youth recreation games. As a parent, I want to be close distance to my child to watch them play to support them and cheer them on. Not a great design and plan.

Anonymous said...

NEWS FLASH!!! We are in a major drought!!! Is the city planning on turf or synthetic fields? Where is the water coming from to maintain these fields and at what cost? This is really absurd and a waste of time and tax payer money.

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