As was posted yesterday on the Fanatic, Hamilton (Ont.) Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young has applied for an NASL franchise. Young, who is also an investor in the Carolina RailHawks NASL franchise, has owned the CFL Tiger-Cats franchise since 2004, and would seem a welcome addition to USSF D2 soccer in North America.
However, in researching Young’s franchise application, we have learned that all is not so cut and dried in Hamilton. The city of Toronto will be hosting the Pan American Games in 2015, with some of the competitions to be held in other cities of the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the geographic area around the western end of Lake Ontario in the southern part of the Ontario Province. Hamilton will be among the cities hosting Pan-American contests, and in preparation the city, the Tiger-Cats CFL franchise and other government and citizen groups are debating where to build a new stadium, which revolves around two choices — the west Harbour or the east Mountain. According to today’s Hamilton Spectator, Young will back out of his NASL franchise application if the west Harbour site is chosen. The decision will be voted upon by the city council on August 10.
I hope something can be worked out. Hamilton would be a great addition to the Division 2 landscape, as it has hosted the oldest and longest running soccer competition in North America, the Hamilton Spectator Cup. Hamilton is also the home of 130,000 registered soccer players, has a first year team, Croatia, in the Canadian Soccer Association and, is part of the Greater Golden Horseshoe geographic area that currently has a population of 8.1 million that is projected to grow to over 11 million in twenty years. Young seems like a solid owner with the necessary amount of funds, and the fact that he has been involved with the CFL and Tiger-Cats for over six years establishes credibility and stability. We will be following the developments in Hamilton closely.
Thousands of miles southwest, two groups in Phoenix, AZ are vying for entrance into Division 2 soccer. As reported yesterday by Brian Quarstad on his Inside Minnesota Soccer blog http://www.insidemnsoccer.com/, a club named the Phoenix Monsoon expect to begin play in 2011, most likely in a loose affiliation in a Western Soccer Conference, with professional teams in San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento, with a possibility of additional teams. The club is talking to USSF, NASL and USL representatives about what the future of Division 2 soccer looks like in the next few years, and may not formally join up with either the NASL or USL until more clarity about the future arrives. As we know, the USSF took over the Division 2 landscape for the 2010 season because of disagreements between the NASL and USL ownership groups, and the USSF is meeting in early August to discuss ways to create stability in Division 2 soccer in the US. The Monsoon are attempting to work with the city of Phoenix on revitalizing an abandoned greyhound racing facility into a suitable soccer stadium. Spokesman Stu Starkey spoke to interested supporters about the emerging plans for the club, and there is more information on Kenn Tomasch’s blog, http://www.kenn.com/the_blog/?p=3452 . According to Starkey. the Phoenix Monsoon club is looking towards regional competition among professional clubs to reduce travel expenses, which was one of the suggestions that Brian offered in his excellent recent series of articles about the future of Division 2 soccer. There is another group, Phoenix Pro Soccer, also looking to secure a Divsion 2 franchise for the Phoenix area.
If the Phoenix Monsoon’s plans seem somewhat vague, consider what the 2011 NASL expansion FC Edmonton club is currently doing. They hired a respected coach, Dwight Lodeweges, with experience leading Dutch teams FC Groningen, PSV Eindhoven, NEC Nijmegen and FC Zwolle. One of his assistants, Hans Schrivjer, coached the Dutch u-20 Men’s National team, and another assistant, Dave Randall, an experienced coach from Calgary. They have a 23 man roster and are playing an eight game exhibition schedule this summer, including games against FA Cup finalist Portsmouth, Chilean team Colo Colo, the Montreal Impact and Miami FC of the NASL and several PDL squads. They will be very prepared for the 2011 season, and will have already gotten some of the kinks associated with starting up a new franchise behind them. They drew almost 9,000 fans to Commonwealth Stadium for their Edmonton Cup match with Portsmouth. So if the Monsoon want to begin to establish a front office and fan base by playing an informal affiliation of teams next season while awaiting to see what the future of Division 2 will be, that may not be such a bad idea.
Meanwhile, in more distressing news, a report is out that the NASL Atlanta Silverbacks franchise, which was supposed to field a D2 team for the 2011 season, may now not be doing so. According to the Atlanta Soccer Blog http://www.kenn.com/the_blog/?p=3452 , the earliest return of the Silverbacks to on field action would be 2012. The Silverbacks have sat out the last two seasons, awaiting an upturn in the economy and perhaps seeing if the MLS considered Atlanta in its expansion plans.