MCKINNEY, Texas, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- The Dallas Burn's dreams of a new stadium have been iced by the suburb of McKinney, which decided Thursday to pull out of a planned 22,000-seat facility to attract the team.
MLS was stunned by the news. The project had been formally voted on and approved by a unanimous 7-0 count of the McKinney City Council last month.
"We and the American soccer community were clearly blindsided by this development and shocked at the inexplicable negative turn of events regarding the soccer stadium," said Lamar Hunt, who was negotiating on behalf of the league.
"It is quite disappointing to have expended this much time on good-faith negotiations, which according to the city's chief negotiator were very close to agreement only four days ago.
The setback is the latest for the league, which has lost between $300 million and $400 million since its inception in 1996 and was forced to fold two teams this year due to worsening economic conditions.
Currently a 10-team league, MLS has battled apathy at the gate and on television, leading to huge losses at the team level. However, the league had been making headway on getting stadiums built for its teams.
The Los Angeles Galaxy broke ground in Carson City, Calif. on Tuesday for its new $120 million facility and the Columbus Crew has been enjoying its stadium -- the first soccer-specific major stadium built in the United States -- since 1999.
"It was a matter of pure economics," McKinney Mayor Don Dozier said. "Obviously, we're disappointed, but it was not something we could afford to do."
After an exhaustive review by the University of North Texas, the city council's move was hardly inexplicable. According to Dozier, "the review clearly showed the money could be better spent on building youth and amateur soccer fields."
The Burn was eighth in MLS in attendance last year, averaging 12,574 fans per game at the spacious Cotton Bowl.