Wagner dishes dirt on stadium project
FCdallas.net had the opportunity to sit down with Hunt Sports Group President John Wagner to talk about the delays of the construction process at the Frisco Soccer & Entertainment Center (FSEC), dates on when FSEC will open and a new partnership signed between FSEC and AEG Live.
FCdallas.net: Nearing the end of 2004, can you give us an overall construction update on the Frisco Soccer & Entertainment Center (FSEC)?
John Wagner: "A tremendous amount of progress has been made in the last several weeks. Unfortunately, the unusually wet summer and fall has drastically slowed our earlier progress. It was the wettest November in Texas since 1895 and the wettest June in Dallas since 1922. The 18 rainy days in June set a record for the most days of rain in a month. Having said that, the lower bowl completion is moving along at a nice pace and all building structures have begun except in the northeast and northwest corners. It's definitely coming together, just not as rapidly as we would have hoped when we broke ground in February because of the unusually wet weather conditions."
FCdallas.net: Do you have a date for opening day at the new stadium?
JW: "Opening Day for FC Dallas will be on June 11 and it will be against Chicago for the coveted Brimstone Cup. June 11 will be an historic day not only for FC Dallas, but for Major League Soccer, the city of Frisco, Collin County and soccer in the United States. We are very excited for our opening and believe it will be a celebration that nobody will want to miss."
FCDallas.net: Have you kept Greg Elliott and Colin Clarke in the loop on the delay and what has their reaction been to the fact that the club will have to open up on the road for the first two months?
JW: "Absolutely we have been in constant contact with Greg, Colin and FC Dallas keeping them abreast to everything that has been going on with the construction process. It is what it is and with that being said, Colin has been extremely optimistic about the whole thing. He has a great outlook and believes that the team will grow together on the road at the beginning of the season and will wait any amount of time before moving into such a great facility. In Greg and Colin's mind, the positives far outweigh the negatives."
FCdallas.net: When FSEC opens, what can the fans expect to experience?
JW: "Parking, concessions, the field conditions, the roads and the seating bowl should be completed and ready for an MLS match on June 11. The fans will have an experience at FSEC unlike any other. Our new video replay board and the seating that will sit in close proximity to the field are just two of the many phenomenal elements our facility will contain. We are looking forward to a very successful opening day on June 11 versus Chicago."
FCdallas.net: Will the soccer park be open in advance of opening day for FC Dallas?
JW: "Right now, we are targeting the third week of May for the soccer park to be functioning for recreational and tournament play."
FCdallas.net: Have there been any further talks with U.S. soccer in regards to the national team coming to play a World Cup Qualifier in Frisco?
JW: "We've had discussions with U.S. Soccer along with the other 30 venues looking for a match. It's a highly competitive field and we are doing what we can to get a World Cup Qualifier to Frisco. It is our intention to bring both the U.S. men's and women's national teams to FSEC in the future, but only time will tell if it will be for the upcoming 2005 men's qualifiers."
FCdallas.net: With the announcement of the Hunt Sports Group (HSG) potential sale of the Kansas City Wizards, does that effect the commitment HSG has to FC Dallas?
JW: "That absolutely does not negatively impact FC Dallas. Actually, it reinforces the concept that MLS teams need to be in stadiums more conducive to soccer. It's difficult to develop an imposing atmosphere in a stadium that seats almost 80,000 people. Besides that, HSG is very committed to Dallas because it's our home base and we're going to do everything in our power to make this a very successful and enjoyable entertainment facility."
FCdallas.net: Ticket prices have been announced for next season and the average ticket price at FSEC will be $13.35, which is lower than the average ticket price at the Cotton Bowl last season ($14.15). What was the thinking behind lowering ticket prices for the fans at the new stadium?
JW: "With so many of the other new venues in this marketplace and across the country significantly increasing prices for the fans when they move into a new facility, it was our intention to go the other direction and actually decrease last season average ticket price from the Cotton Bowl. Our audience is cost-conscious and family-oriented. With that being said, it was our desire to embrace that audience in order to provide the best entertainment value in the Metroplex."
FCdallas.net: FSEC and AEG LIVE announced a partnership to provide over 40 music events over the next five years at FSEC. What exactly does this partnership do for the city of Frisco and Collin County?
JW: "One of the goals of the Frisco community is to become a destination place. With the concert and music festival events that will be produced at FSEC, this partnership with AEG LIVE will further enhance that goal for the city of Frisco."
FCdallas.net: How will FSEC have the ability to have a concert on Friday night and a soccer match on Saturday night?
JW: "FSEC will have a unique underground truck tunnel that will have the ability to load and unload up to five semi-trucks simultaneously. That will give the stadium crew the capability of breaking down the concert configuration and setting up for a soccer match in a matter of hours. We've also ordered a 96,000 square foot
Terraflor Tile System to protect the grass. These tiles will lay on top of the grass to guard the field from damage during music events. That system will allow us to protect the field so that we can pull the chairs from the concert, the tiles above the grass, and then mow the grass and play that next day."
FCdallas.net: What will be the capacity of FSEC for a concert setting and will it be an intimate setting for fans?
JW: "Our concert capacity will range from 10,000 to 27,000. For any concert in that seating capacity, FSEC will provide a very close setting and an intimate atmosphere. Most seating will be individual and there will be no bourn seating."
FCdallas.net: If you had to make a prediction. Who do you think will perform at the first concert at FSEC?
JW: "We're working on Elvis. If we get him we're guaranteeing to sell-out so buy your tickets early."