Statement from Wizards owner Lamar Hunt
"With the completion of the ninth season of Major League Soccer (and the Kansas City Wizards), it is appropriate to evaluate the status of the sport specifically as it relates to the team in Kansas City.
"It is my belief that the success of MLS teams and the sport itself will be dependant on and linked closely to the development of appropriate playing facilities, which have over time come to be referred to as "soccer specific stadiums". These stadiums are generally properly sized both as to capacity and field configuration, and probably most importantly provide freedom of scheduling and revenue potential. The reasons for this are therefore both artistic and financial. The positive impact on success for MLS teams now playing in those types of facilities has proven to be significant.
"Next season will see the opening of the third MLS soccer specific stadium - the one under construction for FC Dallas in the North Dallas suburb of Frisco. By the 2007 season, at least 8 of the 12 MLS teams will be playing in soccer specific stadiums in which scheduling, sponsorship rights and stadium related revenue streams will accrue to the benefit of those teams. The MLS has concluded that most, if not all, new teams to be added to the league will logically require such stadium facilities. This is no major surprise because teams in the more established sports of football, baseball, basketball and hockey have all reached the same basic policy conclusion relative to their sports.
"Relating to Kansas City - it is my belief that it will similarly not be feasible for the Wizards to succeed without such a facility. I must confess that I did not fully recognize this as a primary need when the league started.
"The recent failure of the Bi-State II Referendum which would have provided partial funding for the modernization of Arrowhead has put clearly into focus where the Hunt family priorities need to be and that is to resolve our Chiefs stadium issues in order to assure the long range competitive success of the Chiefs in Mid-America. For that reason, we have reluctantly decided that it is appropriate that we put the Kansas City Wizards up for sale. Such a sale would provide a first priority to a buyer from this metropolitan area and most importantly will, I feel, need to include a doable plan for a soccer specific stadium. Such a sale, when accomplished, will follow the MLS' long range goal to help better focus team management on a traditional one-team-per-one-ownership-group pattern.
"In the event a buyer in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area does not come forward, we will of necessity also look elsewhere for a solution. The MLS has recently expanded from 10 to 12 teams and there is a time urgency to this subject because the playing schedule for the 2005 season can be expected to be complete during December.
"There is little doubt that the MLS is on its way to becoming a successful sports league. Many communities across America are interested in having an MLS team and it is probable that the MLS will be expanding by another two teams by the 2007 season. Over time, as other communities develop appropriate playing facilities, the league will further expand its national footprint much as have the four more established team sports.
"We do not have a specific "timeline" for the accomplishment of our goals relative to the Wizards, however, I sense that this will be a fast moving subject. The Wizards have already begun their season ticket renewal process and have already received deposits for renewals from 50% of their 2004 ticket accounts. We appreciate the hardcore group of fans who support the organization and feel that group can be expected to grow because of the recently completed season in which the Wizards tied for the best regular season record in the MLS, won the U.S. Open Cup and finished as runner-up in the MLS Cup Championship Game.
"So that we may provide an appropriate voice on the matter, I would ask that I be the sole contact person with the Wizards organization relative to this subject. I am open to any media questions today, but will say in advance that I will not speculate regarding the "timeline" for this process. Other than answering questions today, I do not anticipate answering other inquiries on this subject until the process is complete."