Monday, February 2, 2015

A World Class City Without a Pro Soccer Team

Jed York: Owner of the SF 49ers and Sacramento Republic FC
Two sports and two rejections:

The owners of the NFL 49ers (the York family) spurn San Francisco again.  This time its soccer.  The first time was for American football-the NFL.

For home games, the York family took the highly regarded 49er franchise way south outside of city limits to Santa Clara, a suburb of San Jose.  The so-called San Francisco 49ers just concluded their first season playing in Levi's Stadium a couple months back.

2014 was the first season the 49ers have played outside of the San Francisco city limits since its inception in the 1940's.  It will take many years to determine whether this move outside the city will bring financial success.

I have doubts on whether it will become a burgeoning success because so many of the people in the Bay Area are accustomed to going into the city for sports events.  San Francisco is a draw in itself because of its aesthetic beauty, charm and culture.

And, another thing, at least change the name of the team now to something else besides San Francisco.  Keeping the name is misleading and disingenuous.

Over the last few days, we heard the news of how the York family is jumping on board the Sacramento FC Republic bandwagon.  The York family bought-in on the team.  The York family is betting, as are the other owners of the USL Pro franchise, that the team will be able to make the jump to MLS in the near future.

Frankly, I see it happening.  Sacramento will be a hard franchise to turn down for MLS and Don Garber.

I'm not sure I see the Republic becoming a yearly top-flight soccer attraction, though.

I think the point lost on the York family is what they could do with pro soccer in San Francisco. Apparently, they undervalue Frisco for sports while the two other big sports in town see it completely the other way.

The NBA's best Western Conference team, the Golden State Warriors, are building their new arena due to open in San Francisco in 2018.  And, the team is considering a name change to the San Francisco Warriors.

The MLB San Francisco Giants are thriving in the city after winning three championships in the last five years. Generally, the team is considered either one of or the best franchise in MLB.  The crowds consistently come out large and boisterous.

San Francisco is a missed opportunity for soccer mainly because people have their minds closed to it because MLS is already in San Jose.  But, maybe SF could do on the West Coast what the New York Cosmos are trying to do on the East Coast-build a world-class team without MLS.

There is a movement to turn Kezar Stadium in Golden Gate Park, ironically, the original 49er stadium, into an NASL franchise stadium.  The York family appears to have ignored this movement. That's fine because it also appears they have no idea what it means to grow something from the beginning.

Sidenote:  Coincidentally, I just found out that amateur team SFCityFC qualified for U.S. Open Cup 2015.

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