AEG and MetroStars conference call
AEG's President and CEO Tim Leiweke Opening Statement on the Promotion of Nick Sakiewicz and the Hiring of Alexi Lalas:
"We have been working on this for a while now. In the past three or four months we have looked at NY and the MetroStars and what we have realized is that we have not put nearly the resources, the time or the energy into that club that we have the LA Galaxy. And although the Galaxy and the Home Depot Center in particular are a great success story for Major League Soccer we believe that we cannot be successful as a league without being successful in NY. As NY goes, so goes this league. We haven't given it our best shot and I'm embarrassed by that and as a company that is going to change immediately effective today.
"As we looked at the resources and we looked at the marketplace and what we need to accomplish in order to make the MetroStars relevant in NY and to make them a dominant team within Major League Soccer and International soccer going forward. We realized that there were a few high priorities. First and foremost, we have to finish our stadium deal. Secondly we have to build and organization that has the expertise and the knowledge to be successful and third we as a corporation have to be committed and as passionate to the success of the MetroStars in NY/NJ as we are about the Galaxy in LA.
"With that said, we made a decision today to take the responsibilities and all of the different paths that now will have to be addressed going forward and devise them into two. Nick has done a fantastic job with pushing the stadium forward. We believe his area in expertise in particular is well served in now taking the stadium and I believe the stadium deal will be finalized here in the next week to two weeks with some additional legislative approval that will be necessary after that...we will have AEG Soccer NY and Nick will head up that area of our operations. He will be responsible for making sure that we get the political deal done, that we get the budget locked in and in conjunction with the NJ authority that we ultimately build a world-class football stadium for NY/NJ, for the MetroStars and for International Competition.
"On the other side, we needed to bring somebody in that understood the game, understood what it takes for the MetroStars to be successful on the pitch, understood development and understood community outreach and in particular the amateur soccer population and how to win them back. I can't think of a better person than Alexi Lalas.
"He has done a phenomenal job with us in San Jose and although we are sorry to lose him in San Jose, clearly the biggest market place in the country, quite frankly the biggest market place in the world, requires somebody that has the unique respect, credibility, experience, knowledge and most of all heart, to go out there and demand out of the MetroStars a championship tradition and a championship mentality. We're not happy with the results on the pitch within the last ten years and we have told Alexi he has complete control and I will back him 100% for any and all decisions, changes and direction he hopes to go in going forward. I told Alexi, we expect one thing out of him, win a championship. Bring credibility back to this franchise and make NY, NJ and the MetroStars a dominant team in MLS and in the international community."
AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke on why AEG made the change now and not at the end of the season:
"I'm tired of the MetroStars not being as good an organization and good of a team as they can be, in particular on the pitch, we want to build an attitude and we want to build a history here where this team competes for the championship every year."
Leiweke on Alexi Lalas and soccer:
"I don't think anyone has had as much success in this country as Alexi has on the pitch. I think he understands locker rooms, he understand coaches, he understands talent and the players' mentality, development, and what it's going to take to for us to develop the young players going forward to make the MetroStars a dominant team."
Leiweke on Nick Sakiewicz's new position:
"We're putting Nick in an environment were he not only has the greatest chance for success for Nick, but success for the MetroStars. He has been the one who has shepherded us through this stadium project. Nick has a good relationship with all the officials involved in the negotiations, and now Nick will turn his full time attention to not only making it a reality, but making it successful."
President, AEG Soccer New York/ New Jersey Nick Sakiewicz on backup plans for the stadium:
"We have a lot of confidence in the ability to get the Harrison stadium done as you have heard Tim mentioned earlier. These stadium projects are pretty (time consuming) projects, as you can see the Jets situation, the Giants situation, and the Devils situation. Pretty much every team in this market has spent a lot more time and money than we have at trying to get a deal done. We are the most near to getting a deal done than any of those teams. It is frustrating for the fans...but I don't spend much time with the emotion of frustration, I spend more time focusing my energy on getting over the next hurdle because all of these projects whether it's the Jets Stadium on the west side or the giants or the Devils or even Newark have many series of hurdles to get over. We have one or two relatively small hurdles left and we have a lot of confidence that we are going to be able to get over those hurdles and into the ground with this building real soon. So, are there plans B's and C's, of course there are, any good business always has plan B's and C's even, but we are more focused on plan A which is getting in the ground in Harrison, getting over the last couple of hurdles and getting AEG and the MetroStars more relevant in this market."
MetroStars President and General Manager Alexi Lalas on the MetroStars:
"We have a lot of work to do. It's a privilege and an honor to be associated with the club that I really think has the potential on and off the field to become world-renowned. I think in order to do that we really need to strive to become the first SuperClub to emerge from MLS. Make no mistake that the race is on for that distinction and with all due respect to the people from L.A. out there, I'll be damn if I'm going to let the posers out in L.A. beat us to the punch. (Nick Sakiewicz) has promised me the full support of AEG and therefore I can guarantee that the market's going to finally be given the attention and the resources that it deserves. Ultimately it's a championship, attendance, corporate sponsorship, stadium projects, or simply brand awareness. The MetroStars, we really need to set the standard and be a dominant force not just in this league but in the world, so we have a lot of work to do. I could not be more excited about this opportunity."
Lalas on the resources of MLS and Goals of MetroStars:
"As far as I'm concerned the more resources and the more we can go after that, I think the better it is for our fans, and the better it is for our product. We need to step it up. I do believe that the MetroStars product is a lot better than people give it credit for, I think we suffer from a real inferiority complex when it comes to professional soccer in the United States and its really hard for people to separate themselves from what's going on on the field and what's going outside and the perception. But I think that the other owners, whether they're dragged along kicking and screaming, they're going to have to react. Because this league is going to continue to grow on and off the field and eventually, I mean we all talked about the wonderful parody that exists in our league, as far as I'm concerned, I hope to do away with the parody, and I hope that the MetroStars are the best club, not just in the US, but in the world. We've got a long way to go, but those are the goals."