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Mizzu

Minor league soccer in Grand Rapids

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Hello everyone, I thought I would come here to ask a question to anyone from Grand Rapids. Do you think Grand Rapids would be able to sustain a minor league soccer team? This team would either play in the NPSL, PDL, or USL-2. I am currently working with a group that has some interest in Grand Rapids and would like to hear some people's opnions.

Thanks! :)

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Soccer seems to be pretty popular in the area. Not sure of the requirements for minor league teams. Back in 2006 a Bizjournals.com article said the Grand Rapids metro area could support NBA, NHL, NFL and MLS. Major League Soccer is probably the most viable major sport for the metro area -- so I don't see why not for another minor-league team.

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Who would pay to see soccer? Any "sport" that can end in a 0 to 0 tie would not get my dollar!

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Hello everyone, I thought I would come here to ask a question to anyone from Grand Rapids. Do you think Grand Rapids would be able to sustain a minor league soccer team? This team would either play in the NPSL, PDL, or USL-2. I am currently working with a group that has some interest in Grand Rapids and would like to hear some people's opnions.

Thanks! :)

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I would. But wouldn't pay to see a basketball game. It takes all types. ;)

Joe

Who would pay to see soccer? Any "sport" that can end in a 0 to 0 tie would not get my dollar!

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The MLS league is expanding pretty rapidly. I think you would need to find a way to be a "farm team" for one of the clubs i.e. Chicago Fire. I think that has done wonders for the Griffins and Whitecaps. People like to go to a game where they can see someone that might be playing on ESPN soon.

Seattle is in the process of converting their minor league team to an MLS team in the coming year or two. So it also has the potential to go that route. I think West Michigan would be a great market for an MLS team too some day. I think you would be competing less with other Major League sports, and you could get a good rivalry going with Chicago and Columbus. Proximity is key to soccer. You need to be able to have your away team fans travel to a game to fill up stadiums.

We went to a game down at Toyota Park in Chicago this year. The atmosphere was great. 20,000 people stadiums are the way to go. The venue doubles as a concert arena also.

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Who would pay to see soccer? Any "sport" that can end in a 0 to 0 tie would not get my dollar!

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I agree with chgrnative. Soccer just doesn't do much for me and I love playing sports and rooting for my teams. It seems that if, as a city, we had a hard time supporting a popular American sport like basketball then soccer would be even more difficult.

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Soccer is a bit more a niche sport though (at a professional level in the US, that is). I think a smaller niche sport can work if you have a hard core group of fans that create an exciting environment at the games. That's one of the problems I have with the Griffins. I like hockey, but the crowd at the Omaha Lancers semi-pro (mostly 16-19 year olds) games I went to when I was in high school with 6,000 person sellout crowds were 10 times as much fun as the relatively boring Griffins games I've been to, even the special event ones where they managed to pull in a sellout crowd. They had lots of set cheers to different songs that were played and when goals were scored and such.

In fact, I don't think I'd be exaggerating much if I said that the loudest I've ever heard Van Andel was at a sold out Griffins family night when they played the SpongeBob Squarepants theme over the PA. 4-5,000+ kids yelling "SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS! SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS!" at the top of their lungs is quite an impressive experience.

Anyhow, back to soccer, I'm going to have to look into the Edge. I didn't know they existed. I guess none of their (presumably) meager marketing budget was aimed at me. If GR was going to have a minor league soccer team, would it make more sense for them to expand? I guess it would depend on demand and the owners and such.

Has anyone been to an Edge game? I wonder what the atmosphere is like.

I can remember driving by Trinity Church on 44th east of Byron Center once a couple of years ago and there was a soccer game going on there with a small but loud crowd and it didn't look like it was high schoolers. I wondered what group that was.

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I could use some clarification. Minor league in what respect? USL in terms of competing with the Impact, Timbers, etc. or otherwise? While I would selfishly love to have some form of pro soccer in the area I'm not sure GR is the right market. The only way I see such a venture doing well is to find a way to get a small stadium in or near downtown in conjunction with other development.

MLS growth is particularly appropriate to Urban Planet. MLS has a unique vision and it corresponds with billion dollar development projects centered around a mid-sized multi-purpose soccer stadium. New York Red Bulls is building a 25,000 seat stadium in the formerly warehouse wasteland of Harrison New Jersey, which, by the way, is acompanied with reatil , office, and residential. St. Louis and Philly are attempting to gain franchises to do very similar projects. DC United has attempt to develop Poplar Point but that appears to have failed. The Colorado Rapids are well along in a development in Commerce City. San Jose. Dallas, Salt Lake The list goes on. Check it out. If GR could combine

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I could use some clarification. Minor league in what respect? USL in terms of competing with the Impact, Timbers, etc. or otherwise?

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Another thing I haven't thought of is that there is a large and growing hispanic population in Grand Rapids and Wyoming (13% and 10% respectively), or about 35,000 people. Because soccer is so popular in Latin countries, I would imagine they would be big supporters of minor league soccer. There are quite a few adult soccer leagues around Grand Rapids and it seems like many of the members are hispanic. If you made the team a "West Michigan" team, you might also draw people from the larger combined metro areas of Holland, Grand Haven and Muskegon.

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Another thing I haven't thought of is that there is a large and growing hispanic population in Grand Rapids and Wyoming (13% and 10% respectively), or about 35,000 people. Because soccer is so popular in Latin countries, I would imagine they would be big supporters of minor league soccer. There are quite a few adult soccer leagues around Grand Rapids and it seems like many of the members are hispanic. If you made the team a "West Michigan" team, you might also draw people from the larger combined metro areas of Holland, Grand Haven and Muskegon.

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Mizzu, what kind of expectations do USL 2 teams have in terms of attendence, ownership, facilities, etc.

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in terms of attendance, i believe last year the league leader for USL 2 was around 3,500 per game, but I believe anywhere around 2,000 per game would be able to turn a safe profit. Not sure what you mean by expectations of ownership, but the average USL 2 budget needed to be safe is around $500,000 per year. Facilities, really a large enough high school stadium, or smaller college stadiums work well for some teams. Lately some USL teams have been trying to find more soccer specific facilities. Real Maryland is a new team to enter USL 2 this year and they have found a stadium made for soccer.

Here's a link to the stadium.

http://www.mc-mncppc.org/parks/park_of_the...kday_nov18.shtm

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One other thing to think about is the boom of soccer kids. When I was young, you could play tee-ball/baseball. When I was in 7th grade, Rockford had ONE community soccer team (and that was boys and girls). We had to travel to play other teams.

Now, if Rockford is anything like other School Districts around here, there are probably 50-60 teams playing 6-12 year olds. That is a monumental leap in young fans you could harvest for the future.

I've often thought if I had my choice of Pro sports teams to own, it probably would be MLS. 1) because you could actually afford one and 2) the growth potential in the next 20 years is huge. You can't really say that about NHL, MLB or NBA (I don't think anything will ever come close to the NFL).

Joe

Another thing I haven't thought of is that there is a large and growing hispanic population in Grand Rapids and Wyoming (13% and 10% respectively), or about 35,000 people. Because soccer is so popular in Latin countries, I would imagine they would be big supporters of minor league soccer. There are quite a few adult soccer leagues around Grand Rapids and it seems like many of the members are hispanic. If you made the team a "West Michigan" team, you might also draw people from the larger combined metro areas of Holland, Grand Haven and Muskegon.

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One other thing to think about is the boom of soccer kids. When I was young, you could play tee-ball/baseball. When I was in 7th grade, Rockford had ONE community soccer team (and that was boys and girls). We had to travel to play other teams.

Now, if Rockford is anything like other School Districts around here, there are probably 50-60 teams playing 6-12 year olds. That is a monumental leap in young fans you could harvest for the future.

I've often thought if I had my choice of Pro sports teams to own, it probably would be MLS. 1) because you could actually afford one and 2) the growth potential in the next 20 years is huge. You can't really say that about NHL, MLB or NBA (I don't think anything will ever come close to the NFL).

Joe

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The new MVP Fieldhouse has three incredible turf fields. Might want to check them out.

Great point, youth soccer is massive. Does anyone have ideas for a potential playing field? I've been by Eagles Stadium at Grand Rapids Christian High School, great field, anyone have other ideas?

-Dan

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