So I was reading an article recently called the 2018 Top 100 Best Places to Live, and it got me thinking. 'How many of these Best Places to Live currently have non league soccer clubs in them?'
Naturally, I spent way too much time looking into it. What follows is a breakdown of which of these cities has team, what league it's in, and how many cities, by state, don't have a team.
UPSL, 15: Charlottesville, VA, Madison, WI, Fort Collins, CO, Boulder, CO, Lincoln, NE, Charleston, SC, Redwood City, CA, Newport Beach, CA, Boise, ID, Salt Lake City, UT, Irvine, CA, Provo, UT, Littleton, CO, Lakewood, CO, Ann Arbor, MI
NPSL, 12: Ann Arbor, MI, Charlottesville, VA, Rochester, MN, Davis, CA, Asheville, NC, Greenville, SC, Boca Raton, FL, West Lafayette, IN, Sioux Falls, SD, West Hartford, CT, Fargo, ND, Irvine, CA
PDL, 7: East Lansing, MI, Johnson City, TN, Portland, ME, Boca Raton, FL, Cincinnati, OH,
Eugene, OR, Santa Cruz, CA,
Right now, 34 of the Top 100 Best Places to Live have an non league team. UPSL leads with 15, and Charlottesville, VA, is the only city that has two teams, one in the UPSL and one in the NPSL. That leaves 66 hoping for some soccer. Those are helpfully broken down for you by state. The states with the most 'unclaimed' places are at the top, descending to a long list of states with one place.
Unclaimed By State
CA: Palo Alto, CA, Santa Cruz, CA, Berkley, CA, San Luis Obispo, CA, San Rafael, CA, San Mateo, CA, Santa Barbara, CA, Alameda, CA, Walnut Creek, CA, Santa Monica, CA, Burlingame, CA,
Pasadena, CA, Novato, CA, Huntington Beach, CA, Mountain View, CA, Fullerton, CA
IL: Evanston, IL, Downers Grove, IL, Wheaton, IL, Elmhurst, IL, Champaign, IL, Oak Park, IL, Naperville, IL
WA: Pullman, WA, Kirkland, WA, Bellevue, WA, Olympia, WA, Bellingham, WA, Redmond, WA
FL: Gainesville, FL, Tallahassee, FL, Coral Gables, FL, Sarasota, FL, Miami Beach, FL
MA: Cambridge, MA, Newton, MA, Brookline, MA, Framingham, MA
KS: Manhattan, KS, Lawrence, KS, Overland Park, KS
PA: Pittsburgh, PA, State College, PA
VA: Arlington, VA, Blacksburg, VA
NY: Ithaca, NY, White Plains, NY
MT: Missoula, MT, Bozeman, MT
ND: Bismarck, ND, Grand Forks, ND
OR: Corvallis, OR, Ashland, OR
IA: Iowa City, IA, Ames, IA
MO: Columbia, MO,
NC: Chapel Hill, NC
VT: Burlington, VT
IN: Bloomington, IN
TX: College Station, TX
WV: Morgantown, WV
AZ: Scottsdale, AZ
KY: Lexington, KY
ID: Moscow, ID
MN: Edina, MN
WY: Laramie, WY
OH: Oxford, OH
SD: Brookings, SD
MD: Rockville, MD
AL: Auburn, AL
TN: Franklin, TN
As you can see, there are 16 cities in California that don't have non league teams. That's enough to start their own league if they wanted. The biggest surprise for me is the fact that Kansas has 3 cities, and North Dakota and Montana have 2 each.
I'm not trying to say that there is a correlation between the success of a team and the city it's located in, but I do hope this will help people looking to start teams, and leagues looking to accept them, to understand at least a little better the potential of the city to support soccer, especially when you consider the Ranking Criteria.
So get on starting those teams in Laramie, Wyoming and Ames, Iowa! You just might be a city that has everything it needs to help your club succeed.
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Hello faithful AP'ers, and welcome back to American Pyramid! You might be asking yourself, 'wait a minute, this isn't an interview. Thursday's are new interview day!' Yes, that's true, but due to requests from some of the clubs I've completed interviews with, I'm delaying their release a little bit. Not for bad reasons, to be clear, but in order for new news to come out and create a larger wave of momentum around the team.
Really quick, in case you missed it, I'm considering starting another blog, talking about all kinds of other sports in the US. Rugby, NBA, College Basketball and Football, Pro Wrestling, MLB, whatever I feel like, really. You can vote on whether that's a good idea or bad idea in my Twitter poll.
Now, today's article is based around an idea I had for a potential new amateur league structure while I was out on a walk. There's some ideas in here that might sound familiar, and some that might not, and I'm sure there are plenty of you thinking 'good grief, another article about how to do soccer leagues in America?' But I implore you to hear me out. This idea is the culmination of over two years of interviews with teams and leagues nationwide, not some click bait article. (I mean, it is, kind of, but I digress) Everything in here is designed to address issues encountered by teams in dealing with leagues, paying costs, needing help, and fan perception.
So without further ado, I present A Better Way. Check it out.
A couple of weeks, I wrote a post based solely around some old maps I had made and found as I started cleaning out files on my work computer. (You can read that by Clicking Here) It would up being way more popular than I thought, and after some positive feedback, I decided to do another one, this time covering soccer in the states of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska.
Personally, I think any league worth it's salt should have maps as part of it's planning process. Growth is good, but maps can help keep everything organized and keep that growth aligned with a particular vision. For that sake of this project, you can imagine these maps being used three different ways.
There are two things currently going on in the soccer world that are holding my interest right now. The effort of soccer fans in Ohio to #SaveTheCrew from Anthony Precourt's attempts to move the Columbus Crew to Austin, Texas, a process streamlined by some shady contract details that Major League Soccer allowed. And the effort of two different groups to bring pro soccer to the recently saved from bankruptcy city of Hartford, Connecticut.
First, Save the Crew. Plenty has been written by people better than me about why this a sneaky, spineless, generally awful thing to happen. But I want to look ahead to the future of soccer in Columbus, Ohio.
Some of you may be familiar with the story of FC United of Manchester. A group of fans, unhappy with the purchase of Manchester United by the Glazers and it's growing debt, started a fan owned team called FC United of Manchester. And there weren't many of them behind the effort to start. Yet FC United now has a world wide cult following and it's own stadium.
Personally, I don't think MLS cares about Columbus. Precourt certainly doesn't. So I'm pretty convinced that Columbus is out of the league come 2019. So what are soccer fans, and the business owners who tried to purchase part of the Crew last year, to do?
Fortunately, the chaos of American soccer right now also creates opportunity. Chaos is a ladder, after all. I want to look at two options that are open to the people interested in keeping soccer in Columbus. NISA and the amateur leagues.
First, NISA is going to be a team owned league starting in either 2018 or 2019, based on what happens to the NASL. NISA's goal is to allow teams, where possible, to be owned in part by it's fans. This means if spurned fans of the Crew and local business owners teamed up, they could start their own community owned and operated team. Worried Mapfre is too big? Don't worry! There's a nice sized stadium in Obetz that I'm sure would be more than happy to have an anchor tenant.
Supposedly, there are 500,000 people 'signed up' to save the crew. If you could convince all of them to give $10 a year, you'd raise $5,000,000 towards the team. Even if you shrink the number of giving fans to, say, 10,000 at $50, it's still $500,000, enough for a decent stake. That's pretty, pun intended, massive.
Let's say local business owners aren't interested in this route and almost all the save the Crew momentum dies. There's still the option of amateur soccer in the NPSL or UPSL.
Going this route is even easier. 1,000 fans give $100 a year, that's $100,000 a year. That's enough to play in the NPSL or UPSL for years to come, with enough money to even go out and buy your own property and build a nice little stadium. And who wouldn't want to support a team like this, wherever you might be in the world?
Now, Hartford, Connecticut. For those who don't know, Hartford was recently saved from declaring bankruptcy thanks to the state. A few years ago, they were swindled out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by a crook attempting to renovate Dillon Stadium for a proposed NASL team.
There are now three groups attempting to renovate Dillon Stadium. One doesn't involve soccer, the other two do. Midfield Press wrote and excellent, detailed article on this that you can read by clicking here.
One group is attempting to bring the USL to Hartford, which the cities Executive Director seems to like because of the ties to MLS, in spite of the fact that this group has A, no fans and B, is requesting $10 Million in public money to match their own output of $7-$10 Million, $5 Million of which is going to cover the USL Expansion fee.
The other group is NPSL club Hartford City, who A, have fans and B, aren't requesting public money. They are looking to join NASL, which may or may not exist next year, which is an obvious downside, but are a much more prudent choice for a city that is literally out of money.
Yet it appears the great swindle that is American sports may be about to stranglehold Hartford, a city that can't afford what the team wants, while Columbus faces the facts that owners who aren't local don't care about keeping the team in your town if they think the grass is greener somewhere else, and neither does the league your team is in.
As if we needed another story proving that American soccer is in need of reform, the tale of Hartford and Columbus proves that things need to change. Business as usual is not good business, especially for fans and taxpayers.