First off, have to give The Brotherly Game a hats off to their multiple articles in which they explore this similar concept in and around their city of Philadelphia. There is an awesome series over there that explores multiple locations their stadium could have been built and situations that would've arisen.
FC Dallas has been criticized since they moved to Frisco for their stadium location. Whether it be rival fans teasingly changing the team name to 'FC Frisco', to the multiple fans of FC Dallas or soccer fans in general wondering why the stadium was built 30 minutes north of the city center the relatively distant location has garnered no respite from criticism.
In this article we will explore the 'what ifs' on if FC Dallas had decided to break ground somewhere closer to the city center instead of in the downtown a few cities away.
There is so little room in downtown Dallas and near DART stations along the way. If there was to be a stadium built near downtown Dallas demolition would be absolutely necessary to clear enough space for enough room for a stadium. The ideal location would be like American Airlines Center that sits near the DART station, but also has parking around it for all willing to drive there. That facility cost $559 million though, much more expensive than the Hunts' flagship sports franchise the Kansas City Chiefs whose Arrowhead Stadium cost $406 million dollars. (both these numbers 2014 dollars)
So where would FC Dallas find a home near a DART station, near downtown Dallas, already demolished, parking lots adjacent, and that isn't up to much use these days?
Reunion Arena. Yes, I said it. The old home of the Stars and Mavericks. The demolished stadium is currently being unused, and as far as Google maps shows is still a pile of rubble in the shape of an arena. The reason it was demolished was that the tenants, Mavs and Stars, decided to move to a newer and more modern facility at the American Airlines Center. With no tenants picking up the bill, and after 28 years in service to DFW it was demolished in 2008. Reunion Arena is also no stranger to soccer matches. As it was the home of the Dallas Sidekicks back in the old glory days. Many of you will definitely remember heading over there for a match or two of indoor soccer.
Using the website of the current owners of the property, Hunt realty, along with city-data.com I gathered some quick numbers that will show I'm not a realtor. Hunt Realty has a map showing the acres of the land. If the Hunts were to purchase the land for the stadium along with the 2 adjacent parking lots 'Lot H' and the 'Banana Lot' that would be just over 20 acres (20.5). Assuming $1.5 million per acre of the premium downtown land, that would make the purchase of the land alone to be in the ballpark of $30 million. Debatable.
Reunion Arena in today's dollars cost almost $80 million to build back in 1980. Toyota stadium, on the other hand, in today's dollars cost $100 million to build although this stadium was built by the City of Frisco. Now, unfortunately, the plot of land would be 2/3rds the size of the current FCD stadium so it'd have to be much smaller. Would the smaller size lead to a lower cost? Possibly. But for the sake of argument let's say it'd stay at $100m for the building cost as the Hunts try and fit everything in that small 8 acre plot of Reunion land.
The total of an FC Dallas stadium at the old location in terms of just property and building of the stadium? $130 million. This number could be higher if building costs are above those of the current stadium.
*Now arriving at, 'Union Station', this is the Blue Line. Final destination: Ledbetter station. Next stop: Convention Center Station*
DART is a service I'm very thankful for, and one that many Dallas residents are also thankful for. It's also a service that many fans claim would bring much more of the masses of Dallas over to watch FC Dallas and drive the BIS (butts in seats) number. DART would reach so many population centers and undoubtedly bring a large amount of people. $5 for an all day pass? Sign me up. The equivalent in gas money and tolls to get to Toyota Stadium would be worth it. But parking would suffer for those of us not keen on public transportation or those of us who do not trust leaving their car in a dimly-lit free DART parking lot...
Say goodbye to free parking. One thing we all love about going to Toyota Stadium is we know that when we drive over there, we don't need cash to pay for parking (unless you like parking super close to the stadium). It's all free and although it's overflowing at times free is not something to be balked at when talking about attendance figures. Maybe some fans are taking free parking for granted?
Does anyone else remember the horrors of parking at the old Reunion Arena? It was not exactly the best to say the least. Compare that to the nicely sized lots next to the current Toyota Stadium that just need you to cross one street in order to get to the stadium.
There's no contest, but it's still an argument. Collin county in total is almost 1 million persons while Dallas county is filled with 2.6 million persons. Does that mean the attendance figures would be doubled? Most likely not. It would, however, be very hard to argue that attendance figures would not be higher than they are now.
The demographics would also change. We can all agree there would be much more of a Latino presence at games in Toyota Stadium if it were at a downtown location. Imagine El Matador but possibly filling multiple sections! It would be glorious to say the least, the atmosphere would no doubt be much more different with the urban influence increased a few notches. Just think of it...crowd noise...
It would need to be located in a suburb quite possibly like Frisco.One big advantage of being in Frisco is that there is a generous amount of space to build and expand. Whether that means stadium expansion, the multitude of soccer fields surrounding it for youth tournaments, or even being able to provide us with non-nightmare parking for games. A large drawback to Reunion Land being used as a stadium location is that there is little room for expansion. There's parking lots to the east, west and south with Reunion Tower sitting to the north. The space just isn't in Dallas.
Quick Ending Recap
To sum it all up quickly, there would be pros and cons to moving FC Dallas down into the actual city they represent. There are also multiple cons that arise when using my example of Reunion Arena's old plot. While parking, next door soccer complexes, and the Hunts' wallets would suffer; a gain in attendance, public transportation, and actual Dallas location would all be gains. What could have been.
Please share your comments below? Do you think Reunion Arena is a bad example of a location for a new soccer specific stadium? Know another pre-demolished plot of land near a DART station that would be superior? Or is DART accessibility even a requirement in your books? Let me know in the comments!