Columnist: Chivas USA Failure To Turn Profit, Lack Of Identity Make This Time To "Start Over"
MLS club Chivas USA in its eight-year history “has yet to turn a profit, has waffled on its identity and has struggled to find stability,” which makes this “the best time to declare the Chivas USA idea a failure and look for a way to start over,” according to Kevin Baxter of the L.A. TIMES. Chivas USA “hasn't made the MLS playoffs since 2009,” losing more games since that time than any team in the Western Conference, while seeing attendance drop 16.5%, “the largest decline in the league.” When MLS adds a 20th franchise, it could make “existing franchises such as Chivas USA attractive options for places like Orlando and San Antonio.” There “could be money to be made” in such a move for Owners Jorge Vergara and wife Angelica Fuentes. Vergara would probably “have to buy himself out of various commitments before the team could be sold or moved." The team's lease with AEG at Home Depot Center "has two years left." But MLS, which has had "just one franchise relocated in its 17-year history, insists that option isn't being discussed.” Should Vergara keep Chivas USA in Southern California, “he faces a more complex set of challenges, the most vexing of which is how to escape the massive shadow cast” by the AEG-owned Galaxy. Chivas USA is "reportedly paying its rival" more than $1M annually to share Home Depot Center, “making it one of just four MLS teams to pay rent.” The club also receives "no rights fees for its local English-language broadcasts -- not suprising" given that the team has averaged a "barely detectable" 0.1 local rating and 5,500 HHs over the last two seasons. When its lease ends, Chivas USA “hopes to jump to a proposed soccer-specific stadium to be built in Exposition Park” in L.A., but “a new home alone won't address Chivas' larger problems of identity and stability” (L.A. TIMES, 9/9).