Monday, February 20, 2012

Where in the World is the 2000 MLS Cup?

UPDATE: Turns out the Cup has been in Kansas City all along. It was put in storage during renovations to Arrowhead Stadium a few years back. Either way the Hunt Sports Group is "loaning" the trophy to Sporting KC to display at LIVESTRONG Park for this season where it will then return to Arrowhead and be featured in a gallery dedicated to Lamar Hunt. Sporting will get a replica to show off.

The late Lamar Hunt said that the trophy was so important to him that he was able to keep it when he sold the team to local, OnGoal, but years after his death it is apparently not important enough to his son and the rest of HSG to dust it off and display it without the Internet getting on his case.

We still believe the real MLS Cup trophy belongs with Sporting KC and its fans and not in the former owners AMERICAN FOOTBALL stadium where it will most certainly be completely unappreciated.

The Wizards celebrate with their MLS Cup.
An unseasonable warm mid-October day in Washington D.C. was the setting for the 2000 Major League Soccer Cup. The championship game pitted the Chicago Fire, the league's most potent offense, against Supporter's Shield winners, Kansas City Wizards.

Miklos Molnar would capitalize on some unusually poor Fire defending to score on Zach Thorton in the 11th minute. For the remainder of the match the Wizards and Cup MVP Tony Meola would weather the Chicago attack (and make ten saves) to hold onto a 1-0 win in front of nearly 40,000 fans.

For the Kansas City Wizards, now Sporting KC, the 2000 MLS Cup would be the franchise's only domestic league title to date (they won the U.S. Open Cup in 2004). On the field and in the locker room players like Meola, Mo Johnson, Preki, and Uche Okafor would celebrate with the Alan I. Rothenberg Trophy and bring the hardware back to Kansas City to share it with supporters.

For the Hunt Sports Group, the 2000 MLS Cup would be the first league title for one of the teams they owned. At the head of HSG, Lamar Hunt, who backed the founding of MLS after the success of the 1994 World Cup, and in the league's darkest days of the late 1990s and early 2000s, kept it afloat along with AEG.

Thanksgiving Tower. HSG HQ.
In 2008, the Hunt-owned Columbus Crew would add an MLS Cup of its own to HSG's trophy case.

But in 2000, until the sale of the KC franchise in 2006, the only league title Hunt could claim would be that of the Wizards.

Presumably while the Hunt Sports Group (which also owns the Chiefs) still administered the Wizards the MLS Cup was predominately displayed somewhere at Arrowhead Stadium, but when the team was sold to OnGoal, a local investor group, the Cup left town.

Hunt Sports Group's headquarters lie within the Thanksgiving Tower in Dallas. The 645-foot, fifty-story building is the city's eighth tallest and sits in downtown looking like the government building that Neo would have to make his way through in  first "Matrix" movie.

But deep inside this building isn't Morpheus, but Kansas City's MLS Cup.

For whatever reason when the team was sold to OnGoal the Cup was packed up and moved to Hunt's headquarters. Was it an oversight in the sale negotiations? A demand that Hunt keep what he thought was rightful his? The answer is a mystery.

(Right now, no one on either side is talking. We've reached to Sporting people and a few on the HSG side and gotten no response. Clearly this is a sensitive issue for both sides.)

Hunt, center, with the Crew and their 2002 Open Cup.
Certainly the Cup is a reward for Lamar Hunt's contributions to American soccer, but for the fans of KC it is a symbol of the team's triumph. Lamar Hunt passed away later in the same year the Wizards were sold, but his son Clark now controls the soccer-side (among other things) of the Hunt Sports Group.

The Wizards were re-branded in 2010 as Sporting KC, but that doesn't mean the history of the "Wiz" is gone and forgotten. Just as their fans celebrate their 2004 U.S. Open Cup (ironically named after Lamar Hunt) as a part of their collective history, so do they the 2000 domestic title.

It is incumbent upon the Hunt Sports Group and Clark Hunt to do the right and noble thing and return the 2000 MLS Cup to Kansas City and its fans. The Cup has no more place in Dallas as would the one Columbus won. Certainly credit to HSG in building the league and the Wizards into a championship side, but  owners are no more important than the players, coaches, and supporters that worked along the way to make this possible.

Here' to hoping the 2000 MLS Cup makes it way back up Interstate 35 to Kansas City soon.

Editor's Note: The Sporting KC blog, "The Sporting Times" got the ball rolling (pun intended) on this issue and is pushing Hunt Sports Group to bring the Cup back to town with FC Dallas on March 25th. Read his appeal and about his efforts here.

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  1. " the league's darkest days of the late 1990s and early 2000s, kept it afloat along with Robert Kraft."

    What? I'm sure you meant Hunt (3 teams) and Anchutz (6 teams)

  2. I definitely meant to include AEG in there. Big oversight.

  3. Every time I eat a slice of cheese at a rock concert, I like to think I'm paying back the MLS Founding Fathers.

  4. The Newcastle Jets owner when they won the A-League took the trophy straight after the game and put it in his personal office in Sydney, so at least KC had it in the right city for a while there.

  5. Where in the World is the 2000 MLS Cup? What a good question buddy and I have to say I asked myself that exact same question years ago and I have not found the answer yet


"Anyone who tells me soccer is boring, I'm going to punch them in the face."
- Former Dallas Burn (aka FC Dallas) coach Dave Dir

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