Pro soccer expansion team for Valley?
"There are a handful of extremely large cities, top 20 in population in the U.S., that don't have professional soccer," said NASL Commissioner David Downs. "We think Phoenix is absolutely ideal to support an NASL team."
Downs said Phoenix could be added to the league by 2014. San Diego, Las Vegas, Detroit, Albuquerque and Sacramento are among other cities being considered for a team. The league currently has nine teams including San Antonio, Atlanta, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Puerto Rico and Edmonton. The NASL is the second division of pro soccer in the U.S. Major League Soccer in considered the top pro league in America.
Downs said in order for Phoenix to be admitted, an owner must be approved. The League is talking to several potential owners who Downs would not identify.
"It's very important with our league that we get owners who are committed and loyal to the community and want to make a long term go of this," said Downs. "We don't want people who want to just dabble with something for a very short period of time, then just give up and move on to the next project."
Downs said the team would need a stadium to play in. "Typically, in our league, the stadiums run from 5,000 to 10,000 capacity," said Downs. "Our league average attendance this is roughly 4,000-a-game, but we have one team that's averaging 10,000, so a stadium of that magnitude is ideal for the league. Obviously, a little larger doesn't hurt."
The league is looking at valley Cactus League Stadiums, but isn't ruling out University of Phoenix stadium. "Where the Cardinals play is not a crazy suggestion," said Downs. "Those sorts of stadiums can be dressed in a way to make a smaller crowd than an NFL-sized crowd look and feel like a pretty good crowd."
Downs said there are a lot of soccer fans in the valley because of Mexico's national team and the Mexican League.