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USL Expansion / Baltimore?


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#1 BSLIanQuillen

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Posted 01 February 2021 - 04:09 PM

Plenty of news on the USL expansion front, but still nothing concrete regarding a potential Baltimore team, which would be a welcome and overdue addition to the local sports market.

Monterey Bay has announced it be the location of a new USL Championship club in 2022 (think soccer's version of Triple-A baseball) while Toledo, OH, Northern Colorado and Knoxville, TN are those that have been announced at lower levels of the pyramid.

On account of the good ratings for soccer TV in the city, lack of a current outdoor team and perhaps presence of Under Armour, Baltimore has often been mentioned as a USL Championship expansion target. Do you think it will happen? How do you think a team would do within USL standards (where crowds of 5,000 are considered strong)? What would you like to see the team called?


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#2 BSLMikeRandall

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Posted 01 February 2021 - 08:14 PM

Plenty of news on the USL expansion front, but still nothing concrete regarding a potential Baltimore team, which would be a welcome and overdue addition to the local sports market.

Monterey Bay has announced it be the location of a new USL Championship club in 2022 (think soccer's version of Triple-A baseball) while Toledo, OH, Northern Colorado and Knoxville, TN are those that have been announced at lower levels of the pyramid.

On account of the good ratings for soccer TV in the city, lack of a current outdoor team and perhaps presence of Under Armour, Baltimore has often been mentioned as a USL Championship expansion target. Do you think it will happen? How do you think a team would do within USL standards (where crowds of 5,000 are considered strong)? What would you like to see the team called?

Where would they play? M&T Bank Stadium? Is it normal to have something smaller like this in a huge stadium?

 

I know it's been a hot topic of debate on the B-More Development thread. (Also here.) To spend tax payer money on something new (convention center/RoFo Arena overhaul). Feel like Baltimore could benefit from a small venue like Audi Field in DC. Near Nats park. Good size for a MLS, or in this case USL team. XFL, or whatever football league they start next. Lacrosse. Also great for concerts. Perhaps if they were going to build something like that, they could get creative and give it a retractable roof and the ability to convert to basketball, hockey, tennis, eSports arena, conventions. Put a sports book in it, because whatever they do to put a sports book in the Horseshoe will be a disaster. At Charlestown they just removed a couple rows of slots near a cashiers cage and set up a couple dozen hightop tables. Have a dedicated space, and you might get people who come for the sports book, stay for the soccer. 

 

I digress.

 

I guess anything is possible. The exhibition games at M&T Bank Stadium sold out, granted they brought in some popular teams/players. I lived in Fort Myers, FL for four years in the early 2000s. They have an ECHL team (Double-A hockey for the Carolina Hurricanes). The arena held 7,000, and was close to full almost every time I went. They were also really good when I was there. Won the Kelly Cup (Championship) one year, made it to the finals but lost another. Like any sport, maybe the secret to attendance is quality product on the field. 

 

If you can make minor league hockey a success in Florida, I don't see why you can't make soccer in Baltimore work. Especially with the loads of fan groups that back the U.S. National Team. I think a friend of mine travels with the American Outlaws to games? Would this level be a feeder system to get on to the national team? If a young phenom is on the team, that has to wait to turn 18 to be on the National team or the top level like MLS (I don't know what the rules are), that will get some serious attention. 

 

Fort Myers is a town of about 80,000 people. But there isn't anything between there and Tampa 2.5 hours to the north, and Miami 3 hours to the southeast.  Who knows how many people within an hour of Fort Myers with nothing to do. Where as Baltimore you have 600k people, but within an hour in any direction you have a lot more competition for entertainment options.

 

What to call the team? Some MLS teams seem to pay homage to the traditional European teams. DC "United", Something "FC". Aren't European teams just called by the city they're in? Liverpool, is just...Liverpool, right? Why not just call the team, Baltimore City? It's the city they play in, and a play on Man City, Leicester City, etc...


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#3 BSLJordanKatz

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Posted 01 February 2021 - 08:15 PM

How much say would DC United have in trying to block something like that so they don't have any competition for the soccer market?



#4 BSLSteveBirrer

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Posted 01 February 2021 - 08:51 PM

Mike, my thoughts on some points you made:

 

1. Soccer in the states is typically going the way of smaller soccer specific stadiums. Averaging about 25K seats. But there are also a handful of exceptions to this. Atlanta and Seattle being the two bigger stadiums that also draw a ton of fans.

 

2. No a USL expansion team would not be a "feeder" to the USMNT. At least in a direct sense. USL is the second tier pro level of soccer in the US. Most players in USL that develop well go to MLS well before they get into the national team program. And most players in the national program come up through the national youth programs and MLS development camps. Certainly some go the college route (Jordan Morris). But there are no 'rules" that would prevent a USL player from getting a callup to the national team.

 

3. And for me, if I were king for a day and Baltimore got a team, then I would call them Bay City FC. I will always associate the name Bays with Baltimore soccer. Yeah I know that the Bays is a top youth club program there. Don't care....lol. 

4. Most English clubs do actually have Football Club in their official name. For example, even though Liverpool is typically just referred to as Liverpool, their official name is still Liverpool Football Club. And yes, Manchester City, often just called City still is FC.


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#5 BSLMikeRandall

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Posted 01 February 2021 - 09:58 PM

Mike, my thoughts on some points you made:

 

1. Soccer in the states is typically going the way of smaller soccer specific stadiums. Averaging about 25K seats. But there are also a handful of exceptions to this. Atlanta and Seattle being the two bigger stadiums that also draw a ton of fans.

 

2. No a USL expansion team would not be a "feeder" to the USMNT. At least in a direct sense. USL is the second tier pro level of soccer in the US. Most players in USL that develop well go to MLS well before they get into the national team program. And most players in the national program come up through the national youth programs and MLS development camps. Certainly some go the college route (Jordan Morris). But there are no 'rules" that would prevent a USL player from getting a callup to the national team.

 

3. And for me, if I were king for a day and Baltimore got a team, then I would call them Bay City FC. I will always associate the name Bays with Baltimore soccer. Yeah I know that the Bays is a top youth club program there. Don't care....lol. 

4. Most English clubs do actually have Football Club in their official name. For example, even though Liverpool is typically just referred to as Liverpool, their official name is still Liverpool Football Club. And yes, Manchester City, often just called City still is FC.

Thanks, Steve. Good to know. I wasn't sure if this level meant younger players, as in could be under 18. But if it is pro, I assume they are all 18+. And if good enough to be on the national team, would be called up to the MLS squad (ignoring the details of how MLS contracts work, front office strategy regarding service time and the like). 

 

I figured English clubs had more formal names like you mentioned. I guess I was thinking more like mascots. It's not the Liverpool Tigers, Leicester City Bulldogs. At least not from what I gather in the short time I've followed it. Baltimore City, Bay City FC, suffices. Though MLS team do have mascots. Chicago Fire, Seattle Sounders...

 

Another thought, to cooperate with DC, if this is akin to Triple-A, have Baltimore be the DC United affiliate (again, not sure who it is currently, or how that works contractually). But that would at least make sense. I went to plenty of Fredrick and Bowie games to see some of the O's prospects. Norfolk too far though. But if Bowie was Double-A for Pittsburgh, or Cincinnati or something, I wouldn't go. But if they were for the Nats, I'd still partake. You can at least see Nats games on TV here if there are guys you really want to follow.


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#6 BSLSteveBirrer

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Posted 02 February 2021 - 08:56 AM

Thanks, Steve. Good to know. I wasn't sure if this level meant younger players, as in could be under 18. But if it is pro, I assume they are all 18+. And if good enough to be on the national team, would be called up to the MLS squad (ignoring the details of how MLS contracts work, front office strategy regarding service time and the like). 

 

I figured English clubs had more formal names like you mentioned. I guess I was thinking more like mascots. It's not the Liverpool Tigers, Leicester City Bulldogs. At least not from what I gather in the short time I've followed it. Baltimore City, Bay City FC, suffices. Though MLS team do have mascots. Chicago Fire, Seattle Sounders...

 

Another thought, to cooperate with DC, if this is akin to Triple-A, have Baltimore be the DC United affiliate (again, not sure who it is currently, or how that works contractually). But that would at least make sense. I went to plenty of Fredrick and Bowie games to see some of the O's prospects. Norfolk too far though. But if Bowie was Double-A for Pittsburgh, or Cincinnati or something, I wouldn't go. But if they were for the Nats, I'd still partake. You can at least see Nats games on TV here if there are guys you really want to follow.

 

Mike, they do. They just don't refer to them very often in media especially US media. But they all have their nicknames. Heres a list of the top two levels in England.

 

https://the-premier-...lubs/nicknames/


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#7 BSLMikeRandall

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Posted 02 February 2021 - 09:30 AM

Mike, they do. They just don't refer to them very often in media especially US media. But they all have their nicknames. Heres a list of the top two levels in England.

 

https://the-premier-...lubs/nicknames/

How about that. Learn something new everyday. 


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#8 BSLIanQuillen

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 01:23 PM

BSL: For The USL In Baltimore, The Time Is Now. Here’s 5 Reasons Why

https://baltimorespo...-5-reasons-why/


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#9 BSLSteveBirrer

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 06:22 PM

Solid case Ian! Well done and an interesting read.



#10 nickp

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 03:12 PM

 Baltimore would be a great home for a USL Championship club



#11 BSLIanQuillen

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Posted 26 April 2021 - 02:30 PM

If anyone missed it, Christos FC is actually founding a USL League Two Club. (Sort of like the equivalent of Cape Cod League baseball)

https://www.uslleagu...le/show/1158844

Hope to have more coming on this soon ...


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#12 BSLIanQuillen

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Posted 25 May 2021 - 07:23 AM

BSL: Will Baltimore USL finally happen? COO suggests new announcement “in coming months.”

https://baltimorespo...-coming-months/


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