I will admit to being a soccer fan. Casual yes, but I have sat in a bar in Frankfurt, Germany sipping god knows what with locals as the Euro Cup played on a 20-inch screen shared by 30 people. Same goes for Florence, Italy and Budapest, Hungary. I will even get up at 4 am to catch a World Cup or an Olympic qualifying game, which might seem hardcore to some people.
Yesterday, I was mildly excited to hear that minor league soccer is coming to Sacramento in 2014. It is intriguing, but nothing to write home about. I will take my two soccer-playing sons to see games, mostly to support the team and we might even buy a ball or jersey.
I like that the city of Sacramento is diversifying its sporting options. But let’s be honest – it’s time to get back to the real negotiating table. It’s time to thaw the frost with the Maloof family and deal with a real professional league in the NBA.
“Today is an exciting day – not only for soccer fans around our region, but also for those who believe fervently in Sacramento’s potential as a vibrant and emerging market,” said Mayor Kevin Johnson through a joint press release. “I welcome the USL PRO to town and am thrilled to see more jobs and civic amenities heading our way.”
I’m sorry Mayor Johnson, but this is a nine-team league that is expanding to 13 for the 2013 season even before Sacramento joins the fray in 2014. You aren’t landing the Oakland A’s or Raiders or some semi-defunct NHL team or even bringing back the WNBA.
Minor league soccer is cool and all, but so were the Sacramento Surge and the Sacramento River Rats.
This isn’t even MLS soccer, which is such a large draw that they might look to expand to Elk Grove in two years.
Yes, that Elk Grove.
The United Soccer League boasts teams from Antigua, Rochester, Wilmington, Harrisburg, Dayton and Charleston. I can’t wait to see that Wilmington Hammerheads team.
So let’s not make a mountain out of a molehill. This is not a step in the right direction for Sacramento; it’s just a step in a direction. This ranks somewhere between a new theater company opening up a weekend act in a local park and the Sacramento Capitals tennis team re-upping to play another season in an area mall parking lot.
We aren’t distracted by this shiny new toy. Virginia Beach is attempting to push a deal through to steal nearly 1,000 local jobs and our only real professional team. If they can’t make it happen, Seattle is ready to show you what a real major league city does to get back in the race.
It’s time for Think Big Sacramento, the mayor’s office and the Maloof family to put egos aside and figure out a solution to the arena situation in the capital city.
It’s December 2012 and the Sacramento Kings are still in town. We are still left with only one option – same team, same owner. Figure out how to work with that reality and get something done before another city beats you to it and takes away your only claim to fame.
Minor league soccer is fine for a minor league city.