"You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need." Or sometimes, when you get what you thought you wanted, it turns out not exactly as you wanted it.
I'll confess that I was somewhat glad when the San Jose Earthquakes moved in 2005. I could sympathize with the fans and players of the organization who were sad about it, but there was a more objective side of me that despised watching the games at dingy, medieval Spartan Stadium. Too small, too squeezed in, poor visibility for the fans - the game couldn't breathe, even when good players were performing magic there. Plus, I was tired of the posturing by MLS - whatever credibility remained in the league was being compromised by the threats to move the team without follow-up action. Either move them or leave them alone, I thought. Other things like the weak media coverage the team often got, the lack of city support or a local owner and the high rent demanded by San Jose State for Spartan also made me firmly believe that the quality squad would be better off in Houston.
I felt justified for a while after the move. Houston took to the Dynamo, and the team repaid that enthusiasm in spades, winning two championships. With Lew Wolff involved in bringing the San Jose Earthquakes back into the league, this time with a timeline on their own stadium, it seemed a good move all the way around.
Except - the Dynamo still don't have a stadium, or plans for one. Well, there are talks going on, including a proposal to share their new stadium with a football team. Yes, that would mean football lines, most likely, even if partly covered up during Dynamo games.
What's most important to fans when it comes to the new stadiums? I have to admit that I balked at the artificial surface installed in Toronto. I thought that set a horrible precedent, that MLS shouldn't accept a new stadium proposal that didn't feature a grass field. Wasn't that the whole point of moving out of stadiums that used AstroTurf? Would Philly even consider an artificial surface if BMO hadn't gotten away with it?
The thing I dislike, but am willing to not consider too detrimental is a stage. I'd prefer that all MLS stadiums not have one, but unfortunately, they're all the rage. Columbus, which wasn't built with one, ended up putting one in. That's just an aesthetic gripe, though, and I realize that the stadiums should have options to make money besides soccer. Solvency is a good thing.
The Dynamo would be the first MLS team to agree to share their new stadium (if that's how it works out) with a football team. MLS obviously didn't listen to me about Toronto's fake field, and I doubt they'll be fazed by my input here, but I'm trying to figure out if football lines on a field are a fundamental compromise to the integrity of the game (I do think artificial fields qualify here, as did Spartan's horrid sightlines) or just a preference, like not wanting a stage or wanting a roof.
Should MLS teams (and fans) be happy with whatever they get in the way of new stadiums? If one must compromise, what matters most? What should be considered essential to a positive game experience?