NASL Commissioner Opens Up About Loss of Scorpions, Silverbacks

IMAGE, SASCORPIONS.COM

by JAKE NUTTING and DAVE MARTINEZ

The NASL is set to expand its ranks by three this year with the additions of Miami FC, Rayo OKC, and Puerto Rico FC. On the surface, that type of rapid expansion from 11 teams might indicate the league is well on its way to reach its hopeful goal of 18 teams by 2020.

The NASL, though, is not immune from the turbulent nature of American soccer and has had to deal with the disappointment of losing the San Antonio Scorpions and Atlanta Silverbacks this offseason.

“None of this was ever going to be easy and none of it will always go your way — and none of it is a surprise,” NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson tells EOS.

Peterson is frank about the recent setbacks, saying “We knew about San Antonio’s intention for a long time and we were struggling finding ownership in Atlanta. It is unfortunate maybe and you wish it didn’t happen, but frustration? No. It is part of the business today and part of developing a league — finding the right cities and supporters groups to make it go.”

Peterson and NASL owners may have been aware of Scorpions owner Gordon Hartman’s ultimate desire to sell the stadium and the team, though the commissioner admits it only became a reality to the league in December after local San Antonio officials held a surprise press conference to announce that Spurs Sports Entertainment had a deal in place to purchase Toyota Field and bring a USL team to the city.

“It’s unfortunate for the fans. The league is not affected,” insists Peterson. “It’s the nature of the game here today. No promotion, relegation. You are either in or you are out. There is no middle ground, there is no up or down. It is what it is.

“Things like that will happen for, I don’t know, maybe forever, until things settle in.”

The NASL boss did confirm to EOS that an effort was made to package the Scorpions brand name and relocate to Las Vegas, but the move failed to gain approval from the league’s Board of Governors. “All the pieces weren’t in place,” he said.

As far as offering a postmortem on the Silverbacks situation, Peterson believes the NASL’s owners came to the conclusion that it was time to push back from the table after two years of searching for the perfect group and accept the situation before they committed to another year of keeping the club on life support.

“It just reached a point where we weren’t going to get an ownership group we would be satisfied with, that we believed could really raise the organization up — and it really needs lifting up.”

Some cried foul after the NASL announced it was pulling the plug on the Silverbacks, particularly in light of the rapidly approaching arrival of MLS expansion side Atlanta United entering the local fray.

While Peterson doesn’t deny that the arrival of the MLS club was a factor for some prospective investors, he’s steadfast in the league’s mantra that competition is still a positive element to any market.

“I am sure there are some people that maybe don’t understand the culture of soccer or don’t appreciate what we believe anyway — that in some markets, multiple teams help everybody,” he explains. “There are people that don’t see it that way and will say ‘I don’t want to come in here and have two teams in the same market,’ for sure. There were people that looked at that as a factor.

“But you can’t be a hypocrite either,” he continued. “We believe you develop a club around a supporters group, around a community. Like we said many times, it doesn’t matter to us if there is another team there. If we believe it is the right place, right time, with the support we need, we are going to go there.”

The NASL is so bullish on that theory of improvement through competition that they are not ruling a move back into the Atlanta market. The Silverbacks name may be dead in the NASL, but the market is still in play for the league according to the commissioner.

“Next week we are meeting with a group that is still very interested [in Atlanta], but they weren’t going to hit our deadline to get scheduled.

“We haven’t given up on Atlanta by any means,” Peterson said. “If the right ownership group comes back with the right plan, we would love to go back there.”

  • Mrs Garber

    Honest and realistic guy with a plan.
    Are you listening Don??

    • TomTomGo

      he’s not realistic at all.

      My fav comment is was this one concerning the loss of the Scorpions and San Antonio:
      “The league is not affected,” insists Peterson.

      Of course its affected, you loss 2 teams? Maybe you can say Silverbacks was like MLS losing Tampa Mutiny, league owned team are a drain. But not affected?

      I feel bad for fans in NASL markets.

    • Bobb

      I can only assume this is the most sarcastic comment in the history of the internet, to actually call Peterson “realistic” in comparison to Garber.

  • Pele

    Every time I hear this man talk, he reminds me of those type of people talking/looking for A NEW JOB OR TRYING TO GET HIRE FOR A NEW COMPANY.
    Is it just me or does anyone else see that.
    By the way, what wil happen to nasl if cosmos would die again or make the jump to MLS.
    I repeat, MLS will expand to 32 teams. The west is very predictable since they only have like six serious options and in the east, the cities are already in line (not counting the cosmos, yet)
    St.louis, Indy, Charlotte are in already in the east, leaving one spot in the east which garber might go for 3 teams in New York or Florida.

    • MTF

      Garber has said a couple of times now that there won’t be three teams in New York. MLS and the Cosmos had fruitless discussions and have moved on from each other. They have real philosophical differences. Unfortunately for the Cosmos, MLS actually went ahead with Man City and the Yankees and put NYCFC in place, so the Cosmos lost the opportunity to change their mind. If the Cosmos were selling out Hofstra (~11,500) then I could seen a possible future with the Cosmos joining MLS as the Long Island-Queens-Brooklyn team (with NYCFC in the Bronx and NYRB across the river in Jersey), but their woeful attendance gives them zero leverage. The Cosmos majorly overvalued their ‘brand’ and now offer MLS nothing. The best thing would be for them to be the premier club in a strong 20 team NASL.

      • pele

        youre right but lets say red bull do terrible this year,then what. Tfc, Columbus,revolution, r all coming back strong and Orlando and nyc want playoffs.
        red bull needs to spend simple as that :-)
        as for expansion st.louis,indy,Charlotte, are a must in the east, but who will get the 16 spot in the east. Detroit,Cincinnati,Jacksonville, Baltimore, Nashville Tampa.

        • MTF

          Whether the Red Bulls or NYCFC win or lose, spend a lot or a little, have big names or not, has no bearing on whether or not there will be three teams in NY and if the Cosmos will be one of them. I would venture we are still a long way from a city in the U.S. having strong support of three soccer teams. Those 27,000 fans that NYCFC averaged at Yankee Stadium represents a large segment of what the Cosmos fanbase woould have been had they joined MLS. As long as the Red Bulls and NYCFC don’t run into financial trouble and either fold or put themselves up for sale, I don’t see the Cosmos in MLS. Simple as that.

          • DanGerman

            Hit the nail on the head there with regards to Cosmos in MLS. I think they should just focus on making the NASL as strong and viable as possible because I simply can’t see the league at another NYC team anytime soon. When the Cosmos decided not to go the MLS route they signed up for a much more difficult route in the U.S soccer scene.

            • Pele

              If red bull don’t win the east, it will be a disaster. I just don’t see red bull winning the east or MLS cup this year, and then what happens with the fans and all that hatred towards the owner and front office.
              If u ask me, red bull fans are being too easy or are new to soccer.
              For those red bull fans/metro fans, do you know what a huge market team has and what it does.
              Look at Paris, Madrid, Mexico City, LA, Barcelona, London, all those type Meccas attract and HAVE big names and big spenders.
              Red bull is treating NYC/nj like a San Jose or Columbus.

              • MTF

                They had arguably their best season ever “treating NYC/NJ like a San Jose or Columbus.” They won the Supporters’ Shield. They (again) were one step from making MLS Cup. They dominated all of their rivals: NYCFC, DC United, and the Cosmos. Oh, and small market Columbus that you compared them to made the Final. Oh, and low spending Dallas was the second best team to the Red Bulls in the regular season. Where’s the disaster in not winning the East in 2016? Just make the playoffs and go on a good run. I really don’t understand what point you’re trying to make. Are you that poster ‘Cosmo’ who’s constantly saying the Red Bulls need to go out and sign Ronaldinho, Carlos Vela and Tim Howard or supporters should go nuts? Back to your original post, the Cosmos aren’t going to be in MLS. Period. End of story.

          • Pele

            From my point of view
            There’s only 2 cities in the US that MLS can have 3 teams in, and that’s LA and NY.
            You need billions of money and a real stadium and they will come.

  • Hernando Peralta

    Hum, Next year will be Minnesota and probably, Rayo OK. , Edmonton and yes or SI.!! THE Puerto Rico team. Cosmos is bleeding money or not? So F. Lauderdale, the only one is Indiana eleven, so, bye, bye, A$$ holes .. hahahahahaha

  • Hernando Peralta

    Botton line , you get a NASL team with the idea of get into the MLS. that’s the only smart way.

  • Hernando Peralta

    Sorry and USL team. The NASL IS dead on the water, big time.!!

  • Hernando Peralta

    Anyway, Who cares? Bunch of Losers Patersson and Stover, They should get a life, will see.

    • Dr. FREUD

      Larry, please go back on your meds. Otherwuse we will have to come for you.

  • Larrys Mom

    Apparently loser larry has put together soccer leagues before. Riveting and savvy business take larry.
    Go back to raising ferrets in your butt.

  • Kevin

    I agree with the fact that both the NASL and the Cosmos have to really just strengthen themselves and not worry about the MLS. Totally correct I believe that the crowds at NYCFC could have been for the Cosmos. I think of my Cosmos like LEague 1 in England. They have their die hard fans and they enjoy their team, I feel that way too. I’m season ticket holder from the beginning and I enjoy their brand of soccer. Just hope that we get a real stadium soon and continue to try to strengthen both the brand and whatever league we are in.

  • Luke

    don’t bother with the cosmos, the real soccer development and future players are bred in the MLS for the US, nasl is somewhat of a wasteland of old has-beens or never was guys, the USL is better and has young future player development in mind…

    • Dr. Freud

      Larry – please stop. You’re embarrassing yourself.

  • CCM

    In Jacksonville they brag on their attendance success in year one, but the actual attendance looked to average 5,000 at best (announced 7,300+ average) when you pull out the 4.4 regular season opener. Wonder if all the teams in the NASL over-announce attendance by this type of percentage.

  • Kevin

    Just like,all professional teams do.

  • Larry’s Scout Leader

    Everyone is so angry whenever little NASL makes news.
    Why so defensive?? MLS is a division 1 league, right….nothing to worry about right??? It’s been such smooth sailing for MLS to be the most watched league in US behind NHL, nascar, and ummm tennis….

    I would be defensive too!

  • alex gago

    Warning for those who have not majored in strategic communications there’s a term for those individuals who work for MLS & USL its called Astro turfing communication, look it up they have target this site in order to change public perception of NASL. I actual caught the USL spokesperson posting negative comments here and other sites about the down fall of NASL.

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