Monday, October 6, 2008

We Totally Can't Wait for the Dynamo to Christen Halliburton Stadium

Real Salt Lake opens up a new soccer-specific stadium later this week (Thursday, October 9). And if the artist conception above is accurate, it looks to be pretty sweet. It's all shiny and has lights and shit. They also struck a naming rights deal reported by the Sports Business Journal to be in the neighborhood of $20M over 10 years.

SCP Worldwide, the RSL ownership group, made the deal with Rio Tinto (it will be called Rio Tinto Stadium). The London-based $100-billion mining company owns Kennecott Utah Copper. Kennecott is one of the largest employers in Utah, and the Bingham Canyon mine it operates is one of the world's largest copper mines. So people are happy in Salt Lake City. Fun synergies and local ties abound. Yeah for everything. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Okay, you caught us. We're really kidding.

Apparently nobody at SCP knows how to use the Google. Because you can type in any combination of "Rio Tinto" "human rights" "Kennecott" and "lawsuits" and get a solid day's worth of reading from your search engine of choice. Look, here, here, here, and here for some starter links.

According to CorpWatch (see the second link above)"Rio Tinto could be a poster child for corporate malfeasance." Or to be a little more specific:

Accusations of corporate misdeeds include suppressing trade unions at their Australian operations, exposing workers in a uranium mine in Namibia to radiation, and negligence and complicity in the civil war in Papua New Guinea where Conzinc Riotinto used to operate a major copper mine.

Oh right, many of the alleged victims making accusations are brown people in a foreign country, so no worries. Well, one of the claims against the company was that it violated a 2-day-old collective bargaining agreement with mass layoffs in—you got it—Utah.

We don't want to get too preachy—we probably wouldn't even bring this up if it didn't give us a chance to link to maybe the single best line The Onion ever came up with (previous link)—and frankly we're already dreading the response we're going to get from some PR flak pointing out which accusations were settled with provisions allowing Rio Tinto to claim no wrongdoing, and which accusations are completely baseless, pending ongoing lawsuits.

But, conveniently, not so much as a mention of any of this appears in the naming rights deal article on MLS' official Website. Really? Nobody finds a relationship with an organization Amnesty International called out for its "human rights violations" and "environmental damage" even mildly unsettling?

Or is a $20 million naming rights deal that important to the development of soccer in this country?


Kopper said...

To answer your question, well yes, a $20 million naming deal is that important to soccer in this country....

Andrew said...

I enjoy not having to worry about brown people. I'd prefer they worry about me.

More important than my feelings on human rights, though, is the realization that a promotion/relegation system involving the USL or a MLS D2 will never emerge due to the coin being spent on these SSS. Not that there was ever a movement for the MLS to install a promotion/relegation meritocracy in the first place. We're Americans (some of us), remember; we like our meritocracy in moderation, and our sports league socialist.

Apologies for the digressive rant. The stadium looks swell.

Precious Roy said...

Watch much CNBC Andrew? Pretty soon brown people might be cutting songs to raise money to feed you.

Relegation ain't coming to the US any time soon. However, it does seem like we're about 1000 years ahead of schedule for a President Camacho.

Ian said...

Hey, if the epl allows such beacons of corporate integrity as nothern rock and aig, why can't the mls get a mining company?

Andrew said...

@ PR: I would welcome a Camacho in the White House. Obama-Camacho '12, I say! But if two years ago you told me Barack Obama would lead in a Presidential campaign in October, I would've called you a liar.

Quick question: does anyone know of a credible article discussing why relegation wouldn't work in MLS?

Precious Roy said...

Andrew: Why it wouldn't work from a conceptual standpoint? Or from a practical standpoint?

Nothing preventing the former, but for the latter, ownership won't put up a major league franchise fee (what's the next round going to be? $20M plus a stadium deal?) then stand for being told "Oh, but you might end up being a minor league team."

Andrew said...

@ PR: Conceptually, I can see it working. Like you, practically, it could never be for the reason you stated, and also for the infrastructure presently being put in place by MLS.

However, I do see some sort of a foundation for a MLS "Cola-ship" involving the teams in the USL.

I just want to know if Garber et al. actually considered a relegation-type format in the beginning or ever? Or did they base the league on the format we see in the NFL, etc.