Elk Grove Mayor Shows How To Create Buzz, Embellish Reality To Get Soccer Stadium

Yesterday's announcement that Elk Grove would be home to a professional soccer team came as quite a surprise to the community. In ...

Yesterday's announcement that Elk Grove would be home to a professional soccer team came as quite a surprise to the community. In fact, given that it was April Fools Day, it might have been viewed as a practical joke, but it wasn't.

At first glance it might seem like a major coupe for Elk Grove, however from our perspective this amounted to nothing more than a display of crass political opportunism by Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis.

The original announcement that the Sacramento Storm of the Women's Professional Soccer Leauge (WPSL) would be making Elk Grove a permanent home came on a press release dated Friday, March 29 from league commissioner and Storm head coach Jerry Zanelli. (see above) From the time of the release on Friday there was seemingly no mention of the teams move in local media. 

That all changed yesterday.

On Monday, the Sacramento Bee, Sacramento Business Journal and Elk Grove Patch reported the move with accompanying comments from Mayor Gary Davis. The Bee's story said:

"The team, currently based in Sacramento, will begin playing at Cosumnes Oaks High School on May 1, according to Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis and team officials. 

Davis said the relocation will give momentum to the city's attempts to finance a stadium and land a men's major league soccer team.

The way the story was presented by the Bee, it appears as though Davis was the person making the official announcement and by implications privy to the teams move to a local high school soccer field.  

Reading the press release closer, there in no mention of any involvement with the City of Elk Grove in the teams relocation. In fact, given the fact the the team will be playing a Cosumnes Oakes High School, any local involvement would have to be through the Elk Grove Unified School District. 

Elk Grove city staff confirmed today that the city was not involved in any official announcement on the matter and that it was done exclusively by Davis.

Here is Davis' complete announcement:
Mayor Gary Davis Welcomes Women’s Premier Soccer League – California Storm – to Elk Grove!

ELK GROVE, CA (April 1, 2013) – The City of Elk Grove has landed its first premier soccer franchise – a Women’s Premier Soccer League team -­‐ adding to the momentum growing in Elk Grove and the greater Sacramento region around professional soccer. The team will begin playing on May 1, 2013.

According to Davis, “I couldn’t be more thrilled that the California Storm has decided to call Elk Grove home. Elk Grove is a hotbed for soccer, with the largest youth soccer program in the entire United States.”

Added Davis, “This is just the beginning. The City of Elk Grove is actively pursuing land for a potential soccer stadium site while also negotiating a, ‘Term Sheet’ for the financing of a stadium. The next two to three months will be critical in our effort to house a Major League Soccer team in Elk Grove – serving the greater Sacramento region.”

The Women's Premier Soccer League is an independent national league whose main focus is on the development of highly competitive premier women's soccer teams – they are the best of the best. The WPSL also makes every effort to bring quality soccer to all levels of the community and to promote the stature of female athletes as role models for our youth.

The WPSL was formed in 1998. It is sanctioned by the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) who is an affiliate of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), the ruling body of soccer in the United States and FIFA the world's ruling body for soccer.

The fact that Davis sat on this until Monday and sent a press release that gave the appearance that the city, and by suggestion his honor, was somehow involved in relocation of the minor league team was at best deceptive. 

But perhaps this deception may have served its purpose for Davis because as of late yesterday afternoon one Sacramento radio station in their evening drive time trivia question exclaimed that Elk Grove was erecting a custom made soccer stadium to house the team.

Indeed, if Davis can create the perception that landing a Major League Soccer team is just around the corner, he is three quarters of the way to convincing taxpayers that yes, we do need a stadium. 

We just hope Elk Grove taxpayers from this day forward pay very close attention to any further press releases coming from the mayor.

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Pele said...

And to call this a soccer stadium is a misnomer. The feasibility study basically projected that the pro soccer team and its 17 home games would only generate about half of the revenue needed to pay the cost. Instead, the "soccer stadium" will need to scrounge around with bookings all year for the life of a 30 year bond to hopefully pay the bills.

If a high school soccer field works fine for lower division soccer teams like this pro women's team, then what is the incentive for them to pay the substantially higher fees just to enjoy the privilege of playing in THEE SOCCER STADIUM! And just how many 44,000 seat concert bookings will we get to play at THEE SOCCER STADIUM over the course of a year, for the life of a 30 year bond?

I don't know about you all, but my measure of a successful city is one in which I enjoy rising property values and home equity, relatively low crime rates, and an abundance of open space and cultural amenities. If THEE SOCCER STADIUM can bring that, then I will ignore what has happened in Stockton, and overlook the more blatant examples of seedy neighborhoods surrounding stadiums in Oakland and the Coliseum in LA for example.

Until then, spare us the political hot air and stop trying to be another Kevin Johnson, a one-trick pony. Right now we are the bottom feeders of the Sacramento region and will take any crumb headed our way. To go from discount retail to major league soccer is too much for my pocketbook and imagination to absorb right now.

Call me skeptical and underwater on my mortgage.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Pele,

I don't think there'll be any bond measures here. How about revenue bonds that we're all going to be stuck with when the city can't make good? We're all going down.

This press release brought to you by the letter "D" dumb, deceptive, dishonest and disingenuous. Disgusting!

Anonymous said...

I'll have to agree with you......DISGUSTING!

Anonymous said...

Actually it is a little embarrassing reading about this small town Mayor trying to play the "big boy" games. Best to just stick with the Food Trucks.

Anonymous said...

Building stronger neighborhoods with a laser focus!

Olajuwon said...

Wow mayor daves girls soccer move really puts the bush in his bush league local politics

Anonymous said...

Does Mayor Davis think we live in a country other than the U.S.? A country in which the majority of people actually care about soccer? It's a shame he has nothing else to focus on... oh wait, he does, but chooses not to...

Capt. Benjamin L. Willard said...

After reading the stories regarding the announcement, I would have to say Mayor Davis did a masterful job of spinning this to his advantage. Not only did the Bee and the Business Journal essentially rewrite the press release, the stories centered on Mayor Davis' comments which were meant to create this aura of pro soccer stadium inevitability.

Repeat something over and over, whether it is true or not, and pretty soon people believe it. Mayor Davis will continue to repeat our "need" for a pro soccer stadium over and over to the point people will just assume we need one.

I would say as deceptive as it may have been, Mayor Davis punked the media.

Anonymous said...

How could anyone "trust" our elected officials after this stunt? Mr. Davis has turned out to be "the usual suspect" but with a different face. I find him as insulting as Mr. Leary and Mr. Briggs...only difference is...well, I can't really say. It is sad it only took a few months for the power of the mayorship to overtake his integrity. I had much higher hopes for this man.

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