The Electric Commentary

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Soccer in Milwaukee

Investors in Milwaukee are making a push to bring professional soccer to the city. Well, more professional soccer anyway.

A prominent Milwaukee sports attorney is heading a group seeking to build a 20,000-seat soccer-specific stadium downtown and secure a Major League Soccer franchise. Marty Greenberg, a well known attorney who also is chairman of the State Fair Park Board, said Thursday that the proposed stadium would be part of a mixed-use development that would include retail and housing. Greenberg said the privately-financed development could cost anywhere from $300 million to $500 million.

Greenberg said he had met with Major League Soccer officials about bringing a franchise to Milwaukee. Simon Borg, an MLS spokesman, said he could not confirm that top MLS officials had met with Greenberg, but added that Milwaukee was a market in which the league was interested.

I think an MLS team would compliment Milwaukee pretty nicely. Milwaukee is a very soccer-friendly city by American standards and a stadium that size would be a nice addition to down town. The Wave does very well for an in door team in both attendance and winning championships. If an MLS team were marketed correctly, I think people would go. I sure would.

13 Comments:

  • Two words: Milwaukee Rampage

    By Blogger E.S.K., at 11:47 AM  

  • Soccer in the States just will never work. Ever. It just won't. Ever.

    Maybe in Milwaukee though...no, seriously, never.

    By Blogger Ace Cowboy, at 11:58 AM  

  • I'm actually with Ace and E.S.K. I just don't think you will ever have enough people to support it outside of a niche market, and the wave already takes care of that.

    Plus a dowtown stadium strikes me as a waste of downtown real estate.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 12:03 PM  

  • Once upon a time more people watched baseball than football, and the AFL was doomed to fail, and people cared about hockey, and no other country could beat the United States in basketball, and Nascar only had a niche market. Soccer is only going to get more popular in the US. MLS teams do okay and Milwaukee likes soccer more than most cities. ANd there is plenty of down town real estate right now.

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 12:08 PM  

  • I'm curious as to why you think Milwaukee likes soccer more than most cities? Seriosly, the Rampage had twelve fans.

    The Wave win championships and still don't fill the bottom bowl at the BC.

    Having said that, they are free to try it, as long as zero tax dollars go into the stadium (which will fail miserably) and no tax breaks are given to the private investors who build the stadium (which will fail miserably) and the soccer folks have to buy the land at market price.

    Did I mention this will fail miserably?

    By Blogger E.S.K., at 1:08 PM  

  • Also, why do you think soccer will only get more popular? Seems like something you would want to back up.

    If I told you that, eventually, hurling will really catch on in the US, would you just take that as gospel? Soccer has been trying like hell to gain a foothold in the US. If Pele couldn't do it, what makes you think these chucklehead's can?

    By Blogger E.S.K., at 1:12 PM  

  • The quality of play simply isn't there in the States, and US based soccer fans (like myself) know it. I'd be happy if there were a team where I lived, but I'd only go see a game or two a year.

    The best players play in Europe, period. The MLS is a minor league for them. And for a league to be big in the US, it has to be the best in the world. As is, I have at least one old friend who plays in the MLS, and I still think as much about them as I do the Pacific Coast League. But, the English Premiership on the other hand...

    By Blogger Mike, at 1:58 PM  

  • I think that soccer in the US faces a few unique challenges that do not exist around the world.

    1. We have more sports, and it faces more competition.

    2. Soccer is a poor persons game. This is not meant as an insult, however, soccer does not require that much cash to play. Everyone, including the most impoverished nations on the planet, can play it. In the US we have rich sports like football, Hockey, and Nascar that are fairly unique.

    3. Soccer is an imperfect game. There is simply not enough scoring. Some soccer fans will probably label me an ignorant american for this statement, but they are slaves to tradition. Ideally a sport's rules will induce some amount of scoring so that ties (especially 0-0 ties) are kept to a minimum. Soccer could benefit from a larger goal, taking away a player on each side, or eliminating the half line. Many play soccer because it's all that they have. Rightly or wrongly, I think Americans like to think that they have improved on the model.

    (Note: The NBA suffers from the opposite problem. Anti-climactic scoring.)

    4. Soccer officiating may be worse than NBA officiating. The dives taken in soccer tend to horrify US fans.

    5. The sheer immensity of the game and lack of "defined positions" makes player identification difficult for the casual fan.

    6. The concept of injury time is stupid. If there is an injury, stop the clock. Refs have too much leway with injury time as is. Plus stop watches have come a long way.

    7. Settling ties with penalty kicks in tournaments is stupid. It is like settling a baseball game with a home run derby. The tie-breaker has little connection to the game itself.

    8. Ths US has inferior players. Trying to run a major league league with minor league players won't work. Minor league teams do not generally warrant downtown stadiums because they do not justify the expense. The Admirals and Wave play only because the Bucks exist. Most minor league teams operate in the sticks.

    Maybe it will work someday, but not right now, and not in Milwaukee. The population is shrinking and there are too many teams as is.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 2:29 PM  

  • "I'm curious as to why you think Milwaukee likes soccer more than most cities?"

    Milwaukee Kickers is the largest youth soccer league in the world. And a lot of those kids are lawyers and stuff like that now. People in my parents generation played baseball as kids and are now baseball fans. People in my generation played soccer as kids. People in the next generation play it even more. It's the biggest sport in the world and it can't possibly get less popular in America. It HAS to get more popular. Of course all the real talent is in Europe and South America right now but not so long ago all the good basketball players were American. Things change. I'm not saying it's going to be more popular than football or anything but I think there's an audience for it.

    "If I told you that, eventually, hurling will really catch on in the US, would you just take that as gospel?"

    Yes I would, but that's because I think gospel is bullshit. Coincidentally, Milwaukee also has the largest hurling club outside of Ireland. It's all recreational, but still popular as compared to the rest of the country.

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 2:32 PM  

  • Incidentally, I actually like soccer. I watched the Wave's stunning victory in there best of 2 (yes, best of 2) series a few months back. And the Fire are Ok, I guess. (And I played in high school.)

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 2:50 PM  

  • I'm 23, and pretty sure we are in roughly the same generation. As such, people I grew up with played soccer until 7th grade, until they were allowed to play football.

    The youth of my generation also played video games, but I don't see a video game pro league rising up to storm the nation (although it is probably more likely than soccer). What we do as youth doesn't (necessarily) translate into what we are interested in as adults. If that was the case, The Professional Tag Organization would be huge.

    As far as I remember, soccer is the biggest youth sport in the nation. Why? Because it is cheap and there are positions in youth leagues for even the weakest and least coordinated kids. Parents don't have to pay a lot to get em going (a la hockey) and ususally don't have to drive very far to find a field.

    A better barometer would be to look at attendance figures for high school soccer. At this level you have not only family members who are invested, but school members as well. From personal experience, mens high school soccer doesn't draw dick. A nonconference football game at your average SE Wisconsin high school draws twice as many fans as the mens HS championship game.

    I get that you like soccer, and I know what its like to have no one care about your sport...I love hockey.

    By Blogger E.S.K., at 2:52 PM  

  • Tag and video games are not spectator sports, they're kids games. Soccer is a spectator sport. See the rest of the world for example. Paul is right that soccer has more challenges in the US. There are more sports, but there are also more people and more money. Hockey is going down fast and Baseball couldn't handle too many more scandles/strikes etc.

    "From personal experience, mens high school soccer doesn't draw dick. A nonconference football game at your average SE Wisconsin high school draws twice as many fans as the mens HS championship game."

    I'm from SE Wisconsin and I bet the attendance at our soccer games was about as high as our football games. Granted, our soccer team was awesome and our football team sucked. The town next to us celebrated a homecomeing soccer game instead of a footbal game at at least one of there schools.

    "I get that you like soccer, and I know what its like to have no one care about your sport...I love hockey."

    Yeah, part of it is wishfull thinking, but I don't think it's that unrealistic. My favorite sport is triathlon and I certainly don't think that's going to become a spectator sport in the US or anywhere else any time soon.

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 3:57 PM  

  • I'm curious why high school attendance is the standard. No other sport works that way, and high school baseball attendance is pretty darn crap in a lot of places.

    By Blogger Stan Collins, at 1:41 PM  

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