USL Pro expansion news, rumor and wishful thinking.

Discussion in 'USL Expansion' started by ButlerBob, Jan 2, 2012.

  1. AndyMead

    AndyMead America Uber Alles

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    Over the years I've talked to a few of the players from that team, and boy oh boy do they have some interesting tales. And not your garden variety dodgy minor league ownership stuff either.

    ---

    If I recall, the Salty Dogs ownership was fine, they just lost their only somewhat viable place to play.


  2. onlyonefootball_com

    onlyonefootball_com Member

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    I don't know the history here, but I live in the Lehigh Valley area. It has grown a lot since the late 90s. I think the IronPigs AAA baseball team, after debacles with some independent league baseball clubs in the early 2000s, demonstrates that a well run minor league operation can succeed here whereas poorly run operations fail. The metro area has about 1 million people so is a good size for a USL Pro or maybe even NASL team that reaches out to the community as well as the IronPigs marketing does. I doubt there's an ownership group and stadium options like Coca-Cola Park (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coca-Cola_Park_%28Allentown%29) and J. Birney Crum Stadium (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._Birney_Crum_Stadium) aren't ideal but I think the region could support a team at that level if done right.

    People by and large don't know that this area was home to one of the most successful soccer teams in the history of the sport in this country, Bethlehem Steel FC. I think if you were able to tap into that legacy and mythologize it as a gloried past they didn't even know they had it could strike a chord. Thematically, the old Bethlehem Steel area has been revitalized in recent years and such a narrative would fit right in.
  3. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

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    My dad lives in the area, by the way. My little brother went to Central Catholic.

    The IronPigs have done really well, much better than the Ambassadors (who played at that very old park) and the whole Black Diamonds thing from 13 years ago was a fiasco.

    Most any decent-sized region could support a team "if done right" (nebulous phrase too many people use). I'm not sure "Bethlehem Steel" would resonate a whole lot with anyone other than the serious history buffs like me (when "Rowdies" and "Strikers," which are of much more recent vintage, aren't exactly doing magical things all by themselves), but it would be a cool enough identity.

    Unfortunately, the reborn Stoners didn't stay the Stoners for too long, though that's a great name, too.
  4. ButlerBob

    ButlerBob Moderator Staff Member

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    How about Goodman stadium at Lehigh? I saw the US men's Olympic team beat Mexico back in the early 90s there. Probably a little too big for what a team would need. But a nice stadium and nice facilities.


  5. Orlando Rays

    Orlando Rays This is your world.

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    On Lehigh Valley: Crum has a 110x70yd pitch drawn, but is a track. And of course it's a school stadium, with those associated issues. Goodman could squeeze in a similar size, but without the track.

    Coca-Cola Park does not have the configuration for anything resembling a proper pro soccer pitch.
  6. Prosoccercdn

    Prosoccercdn Member

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    Leap from PDL to USL PRO is more than a 100k increase. Average budget in the PDL is suposed to be around 100k per year, D3 USL PRO is around 1 million, and D2 NASL around 2 million, so the GM would be right in saying its a big leap from PDL to USL PRO.
  7. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

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    Especially in California, with workman's comp.
    dtid repped this.
  8. Skippysasquirrel

    Skippysasquirrel Member+

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    What would ya'll think of a recreation of Bethlehem Steel? I think that'd be cool (at least as long as we're all having to deal with this NY Cosmos talk...)
  9. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

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    Bethlehem's a small town, though the tri-city area has some people in it, obviously.

    Like anything else...where are you gonna play, who's gonna own them, how dedicated are those people going to be? This whole "resurrection" thing is great in theory and sounds sexy for the first year, but then what?
  10. Bluesfan

    Bluesfan Member

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    I am sorry, but I am confused how you 'tap into' a legacy and mythology that people are completely unaware of in the first place?
  11. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

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    Let's be honest, here...Bethlehem Steel last played 82 years ago, so anyone who actually saw them play or remembers them fondly is in their 90s and is likely not going to be buying tickets. So you're not tapping into any institutional memory of any kind, and while Bethlehem Steel FC is a legendary and historic name in American soccer, it resonates with very, very few people in and of itself.

    Now, it's a cool name. The company itself was around until the mid-1990s, so that concept is at least understood. Whether that would be confusing to the locals who thought they were going to open a new plant or something, I couldn't tell you.

    But "Bethlehem Steel FC" has appeal to a hybrid new/retro fan, someone who wants to appear cognizant of the history and traditions of the game despite not actually knowing there was soccer here until Tony Sanneh's header against Portugal. They'd be attracted to it because it's kitschy in a way and they could pretend they're an insider, like people who are fans of a particular band until too many people know about them, at which point they pronounce the band to have sold out and move on.

    Like anything else, though, if they had committed local owners, a good place to play, were willing to be patient while they lost money, and were intent on presenting the game at a high level, they'd probably have no worse a chance with that name than any other.
    Orlando Rays and bullsear repped this.
  12. Skippysasquirrel

    Skippysasquirrel Member+

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    Yeah that sounds like me... Except it was Figo's header against Van Bommel in 2006 lol

    Maybe it'd be a fun pet project for some billionaire from the area... (Jordan Moreno...?)
  13. bullsear

    bullsear Member

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    I think you're absolutely spot on with your assessment--especially the last paragraph. I've actually seen Bethlehem Steel shirts in the wild on a couple of occasions.

    Although I'm not sure whether I would call it "tapping into" the original team's identity or flat out stealing it. In this case, I actually think the latter is actually the right way to think about it--from both a fandom and marketing perspective.

    "There is a difference between doing an adaptation, which is evil, and actually stealing [...], which, as long as everybody's dead or you don't mention the names, is perfectly alright by me." -Alan Moore
  14. FulhamATX

    FulhamATX New Member

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    So the Austin Aztex owner is selling a pipe dream when he says he wants to go pro sooner rather than later? I guess the key is that he needs to find those elusive "other investors", huh? Too bad Michael Dell's kids don't play soccer.
  15. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

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    Few have done it, which doesn't mean this guy's ambition isn't genuine. Eight coaches, though? WTF?

    If he wants to give it a shot, more power to him. At least he's building with that goal in mind from the get-go, instead of being dragged up a level by circumstance or just deciding one day that it would be cool to try.

    The woods are littered with the bones of people who've tried to operate lower-level pro soccer teams in this country. Doesn't mean it can't be done. Just means pack some beef jerky because the conditions are rough and the terrain is hostile.
  16. Hax

    Hax BigSoccer Supporter

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    Goodman is great but they don't have lights. FC Sonic of the NPSL plays at the Ulrich Sports complex at Lehigh, a nice facility but maybe too small for USL designs. I love the idea of the Lehigh Valley getting a team, and the IronPigs have been tremendously successful (they had the highest attendance in all of minor league baseball in fact), but the area is getting maxed out with minor league teams. Allentown is building a hockey arena for the
    Phantoms (AHL affiliate of the Flyers) and with Harrisburg having the Union affiliation, I don't see the Philly link that the other minor league teams have in the area (even nearby Reading boasts Union and Phillies affiliations with Reading United and the Reading Phillies respectively). I do think the area could support a team demographically, but I don't see a clear ownership group or place to play that makes sense.
  17. VioletCrown

    VioletCrown Member

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    Actually, they did. I have a friend that was managing a rec league, and one day dealing with all the newbie coaches, realized that he was talking with Michael Dell... who was coaching his kid's team. Don't know if they're playing anymore, though.
  18. dtid

    dtid Member

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    They have two teams - PDL and Y-20. Four coaches each.

    Reading a few tea leaves, this isn't his first go-round and he is laying a foundation. Whether he gets further investors to do more or not is the question, but unlike the long list of failed ownership groups that ran away and hid to lick their wounds, it seems like this group tried to learn from the experience and find a way to fix things.

    Considering the success Orlando has had, I can see why they think they aren't too far away from success. Considering the current size of Austin, I can see them being a great Division III or II club. Way too much to speculate beyond that for a variety of reasons, but I can see them getting to 5-10k a game.

    And while the woods are littered with the bones of dead teams, there are enough success stories that, with the right plan, it can be done. You just have to actually have a plan that takes into consideration all the information that's available on the issues.
  19. dtid

    dtid Member

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    I'm curious - how does workers comp works in a sports environment...?
  20. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

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    And some of those ideas are in another thread here somewhere.

    The thing is....too many people feel they're the smart ones, they're the ones that aren't going to fail, they don't need the advice of anybody else, they don't care what other people did, they are going to get it right because they're the smartest guys in the room.

    That lack of humility, combined with undercapitalization and mis-prioritization, have been the hallmarks of the lack of sustained success American soccer has had over the last howevermanyodd years.
  21. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

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    Much the same as with any other industry. Except you have a workforce that gets hurt a lot more.
  22. ButlerBob

    ButlerBob Moderator Staff Member

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    Like kenn mentioned it's pretty much how it works in any other industry / business. The key is how it's handled in that specific state. It's a state issue not a federal issue. And in CA the company needs to pay more bucket, I think. Is that correct Kenn?
  23. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

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    Certain states seem to have higher rates for such things, yes. And I believe California is a killer, but don't quote me on that.
  24. bullsear

    bullsear Member

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    California routinely rates among the worst states in the country in terms of work comp insurance.
    These scores take into account the cost of treatment, the frequency of injury, and the rate at which workers are efficiently gotten back to work.

    But lots of other states (and territories) have similarly high costs for similarly poor service.
    Puerto Rico, New York, Texas, and West Virginia are usually all pretty terrible too.

    Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Georgia routinely scores among the top states in terms of workers' comp, and with the exception of Arizona, all of them have relatively long-standing traditions with lower-division soccer.
  25. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

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    Good to know, thanks. Does the fact that Texas and West Virginia (at least) have major industries that one might consider dangerous factor into that at all?

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