by DAVE MARTINEZ
West Coast expansion has long been on the “to-do” list of the North American Soccer League. In fact, NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson told EoS West Coast expansion conversations have been happening “since my first week on the job.”
Well, those conversations are about to become a reality.
According to Peterson, one ownership group is near the point of announcing a new West Coast market based team — and there are several others ready to follow.
“We will be on the West Coast soon,” Peterson tells EoS. “We will start making announcements as early as four weeks or as long as eight weeks … At least one market … could be more.”
In fact, Peterson reveals that as many as four new expansion teams and markets could be announced almost simultaneously. “The groups we have been in discussions with have been fantastic,” he said. “It has worked out organically that we could have multiple teams out there all at the same time. It could be as many as four [but] it is still early days.”
Peterson would not reveal the location of the coming expansion side, explaining that the ownership group is “still trying to get some things accomplished behind the scenes before making public announcements.” However, several sources tell EoS that potential ownership groups are eyeing a home in either the San Francisco, Orange County, San Diego or Las Vegas markets.
“There is interest,” he said. “There are cities all in play but it is just a matter of this happening.”
Another trend in recent NASL expansion is the dawning of the celebrity owner. Paolo Maldini in Miami and Carmelo Anthony in Puerto Rico are two such examples of this movement.
Of the coming expansion teams, at least one has a high-profile owner leading the charge — much to the delight of Peterson.
“We like that trend quite honestly, bringing in someone like Maldini, Nesta and Carmelo into the mix,” he explains. “These guys have been at the top of their game. They have been champions. They understand what it takes to build a championship organization. They know when it isn’t a championship organization as well! Business people dont know what that is unlesss they have been there and very few people have actually been there.
“These are guys helping their clubs ramp up to the point that they win championships, building championship organizations top to bottom much quicker than without having people like that,” Peterson stressed. “Personally I love it. I think it will help the entire league push itself to be the best it can be every day because that is who those guys are.”