The ownership of the Houston Dynamo (and now Houston Dash) are consistently at the forefront of most discussions involving big name transfer rumors or discussions, even when those rumors don't include the club in any way, shape or form. In the past I was highly critical, and even at times a tad unfair to the ownership and front office. So what's really the deal?
To understand why the club hasn't splashed on a really big name in an attempt at drawing fans, we have to first examine the makeup and structure of the club. At the top you have the ownership, comprised of three entities: AEG, Gabriel Brenner and Oscar de la Hoya. Of those three entities, Brenner and de la Hoya combine for roughly 50% of the ownership stake, while AEG makes up the other half.
Any time a potential candidate is mentioned or brought up, most assume the choice begins and ends with the ownership triangle, but this is only partially true. Initially, the secondary and tertiary layers of the organization which include Team President Chris Canetti, Head Coach Dominic Kinnear, and one or two other individuals, first must come to an agreement whether the player warrants a closer look.
Phone calls are made to previous clubs, and internet searches (or at least we think those take place) commence. Eventually, the Front Office comes to a conclusion with the Coaching Staff on whether to even consider attempting to "sell" the ownership on the transfer. At this point, the ownership triangle perform their due diligence, evaluating factors such as marketability, potential sponsorships, and also whether they can recoup their investment into the player.
For the most part, there have not been a whole lot of candidates who even made it to the final stage of examination by the ownership, and I do feel there is a bit of a disconnect between what fans perceive is the sticking point and where the sticking point actually exists.
I'm not saying there is a problem, either. In fact, looking back, this structure has served its intended purpose quite admirably. Wait, what's that? You disagree?
Keep in mind, our ownership group has done something no other ownership in Major League Soccer has dared. They funded, almost exclusively from within their own coffers, our stadium. Is there even a stadium in MLS which comes close to BBVA Compass Stadium? Not really, no.
As I look back over the last few seasons I definitely see a correlation between how much was spent on the stadium versus how much other teams have spent on marquee player transfers. If we take a step back, how many of those marquee player transfers have yielded the desired result? Zero.
How many new stadiums have yielded the desired result? Sporting Kansas City would say they landed the big one, and did it without that "marquee player transfer". And I would tend to agree.
I'm not writing this to dissuade anyone from pointing at the Houston Dynamo ownership triangle and wondering when our marquee player transfer is coming, but I felt it only fair to give a true idea of what they actually have done for the club and also how they come into play with those transfers.
At some point I plan to sit down with Canetti and actually discuss how those transfers come about, and who knows, maybe he can find some time to do that at the upcoming MLS Salary Cap lecture/discussion day (details TBA).
So what do you think? Which is more important (and yes, you can only choose one), a marquee transfer or a marquee stadium?