Thursday, December 14, 2006

R.I.P. Lamar Hunt

Lamar's important work with the AFL and NFL and the Kansas City Chiefs will be well documented elsewhere, I'm sure.

I was looking for something that would talk about his huge impact on US soccer, and this article from ESPN that I first saw on Sanford will do the trick.

Suffice to say that Lamar saw potential for US soccer back in the 60's, suffered through the highs and incredible lows of the NASL, and perservered, knowing full well he probably wouldn't live to see soccer attain the status he knew it could (and probably will).

Perhaps, his most important contribution to soccer in the US was also one of his last. As Frank Dell'Apa says:

But Hunt's longest-lasting legacy could be his decision to build Columbus Crew Stadium, the first soccer-specific stadium of consequence constructed in the U.S. since the 1920s. Four more such stadiums have been completed for MLS teams (including Hunt's Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas), two are set to open next year (Denver and Toronto), and ground has been broken on two more.

"One stadium in one city and one sold-out game doesn't make a success," Hunt said before the opening of Crew Stadium in 1999. "But this stadium will be here for 50 years, even if I won't be.''

Crew Stadium was not extravagant. But it symbolized much about Hunt's vision and how he regarded soccer in the U.S. Crew Stadium cost about $29 million, a fraction of Hunt's fortune, but the importance of it was that it started a movement toward similar stadiums.

Fare thee well, Mr. Hunt.

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