Peterson talks Western, Canadian expansion, South Florida, Cosmos attendance issues, more

Bill Peterson talking NASL

by JAKE NUTTING

This year’s entrants to the North American Soccer League took a decidedly shorter path to their first kick in comparison to recent expansion sides, Ottawa Fury FC, Indy Eleven and Jacksonville Armada.

Unlike those clubs, both Miami FC and Rayo OKC had less than a year from their official unveiling until they had to take the field. Meanwhile, this year’s third newcomer, Puerto Rico FC, will have had slightly over a year by the time they debut in July for the Fall Season.

Despite the shortened lead up time, Miami and Rayo OKC succeeded in drawing impressive crowds in their first home matches. After only being introduced by the NASL in late November of last year, Rayo OKC welcomed a capacity crowd of 6,416 opening night and followed that up with 5,851 in week two, the same night of a home match for USL cross-town rival OKC Energy.

Miami had to wait until week two to host their first match, but the patience was rewarded with the largest gate of any NASL team so far this year, as 10,156 fans came out to see them take on the Tampa Bay Rowdies at FIU Stadium.

NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson was on hand for each club’s debut and expressed his pleasure at seeing the communities already demonstrating passion for the young franchises.

“It’s very exciting. I wouldn’t call it a relief, but it’s very exciting,” said Peterson. “They’ve done a great job in both cities, putting in a lot of work together late and last night [in Miami] was just incredible, same as the week before for Rayo OKC.

“I think the most impressive part is how quickly they got behind the clubs,” he continued. “After literally 20 or 30 minutes they were behind them, they’re rooting them on, they’re oohing and ahhing and the whole thing. That’s important. You want to develop those relationships. That’s probably what I was most proud of. But both groups have done a tremendous job in a short period of time and hopefully they can keep it going.”

While the league might be content with the strong launches in Miami and Oklahoma City, there is a question of what impact the introduction of Miami in South Florida will have on an NASL original, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, who drew the smallest crowd of the year so far with only 2,129 on opening night.

From Peterson’s perspective, though, the league isn’t concerned about any potential cannibalization of the market in South Florida. He’s sticking with the mantra that competition within markets can force teams to work even harder to thrive.

“No, these things are gonna work themselves out,” he said. “Fort Lauderdale’s done a lot of work behind the scenes to build their infrastructure out and to put themselves in a position where I think you’ll start to see them going forward now.”

“Look, you’re constantly working on how to expose this to more fans,” he elaborated. “How do you get more fans into the stadium? It’s a constant job, it never ends. They’re just at a different place now than maybe some of the other clubs are. But they’ll be alright.”

New York Cosmos Attendance Drop-off

The Fort Lauderdale Strikers aren’t the only team in the league dealing with disappointing numbers in the stands. Despite the fact that they’ve lifted the Soccer Bowl trophy in two of their first three seasons, the Cosmos had their smallest opening day crowd in the modern era this year, with only 5,904 showing up for a rematch of last year’s championship final with Ottawa Fury FC. Week two saw attendance at Shuart Stadium drop down to 3,685.

Peterson doesn’t think the shrinking crowds for the league’s marquee club isn’t cause to reach for the panic button yet. In fact, he blames it on a familiar explanation for locals — scheduling.

“It doesn’t bother me,” he said. “Look, nobody’s satisfied with it but its pretty obvious we’re struggling to find the right days and times to play here. That’s something that’s been going on, and it seems to be maybe a little more difficult this year then it has been in the past. It’s hard to think that on a Sunday night at 6 o’clock you’re going to draw well.

“I think they’re going to keep working with the university and try to find some days and slots that work better. Ultimately the big prize is to get their own stadium.”

Timeline for Westward Expansion

At the moment, the only sure thing for expansion in 2017 are the San Francisco Deltas, who will mark the league’s first foray onto the West Coast. While Peterson shied away from naming any of the specific markets the league is in “deep discussions” with for further expansion, he did reveal that the Deltas could be joined by another startup in the western states as early as next year.

“There’s a real possibility, maybe not in 2017, but there’s a chance of 2017. It’s starting to look more likely 2018, but there’s interest in the western states and the West Coast, and I’m pretty confident we’ll get something done.”

No Ongoing Expansion Talks in Canada

With the league on the brink of western expansion, Peterson acknowledged that the league isn’t in active discussions with any Canadian markets. He says the long-rumored Canadian soccer league might be a reason why expansion has stalled north of the border, but he also admits he’s not sure if that league will ever actually come to fruition.

“Currently we’re not in any discussions with any other Canadian cities, which is a little bit disappointing because I think we’d love to see more teams added in Canada,” said Peterson. “But all these things, they ebb and they flow, and it’s a little bit of a process where an ownership group has to bubble up to the top.

“Right now we’re not talking to any other groups but that could change tomorrow morning.”

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  • Jesus Panfilo-Lira

    More of a reason to leave Hofstra what with the scheduling and all. Even when we had Raul in the team it was obvious nobody cared. We should move into the city rather than stay at Hofstra. Maybe MCU Park or Icahn Stadium.

    • Curry sauce

      I know people hate reading this but if cosmos don’t get their stadium, that practically means cosmos are dead and nasl is also dead.
      If the deltas can play at the historic stadium, then why not cosmos play at Icahn stadium?
      but if you ask me, if cosmos don’t get their stadium, cosmos should just make the jump to MLS and buy red bull.
      How difficult is that?
      How much is ny red bull worth, I say $400 to $500 million.
      Includes stadium and academy facilities, not bad, plus a starving fan base.
      Red bull= chivas USA with steroids of east coast.

      • Jesus Panfilo-Lira

        But will Red Bulls sell because by the looks of it they plan on staying in MLS for a long time

      • MTF

        Simple. Except the Cosmos ownership doesn’t want to be in MLS, and nothing said by the organization the past 2+ years seems to show a change of heart. So there’s that. #beatingadeadhorse

      • Larry\’s A Simpleton

        do you really think the f.cosmos have that much money? i wish you f.cosmos would just go away. and do you really think red bulls fans would embrace being part of the f.cosmos? stop man just stop.

        • Mix

          And I wish Larry would come out of the closet.

          • Mix\’s Hair

            Larry Brushes my hair before each game

      • Tommi

        Icahn a good choice for an alternate temp stadium, hope they look at it. Cosmos jumping to MLS will never happen with MLS’s single entity wierd setup and that setup won’t change for one club. I’d rather the Cosmos fold than sellout their iconic brand and join MLS as a local business unit (as Garber calls MLS franchises) and lose their historic clubs soul.

  • Curry sauce

    Question, isn’t Canada starting their own soccer league in 2017 or 2018 and will Vancouver, Montreal and tfc enter the new Canadian league.
    Another question, what is Peterson thinking. Miami will become beckham forever and will be the hot ticket for soccer.
    You can tell Peterson loves to give garber a hard time until garber starts an MLS2 and the cosmos are the only hope for nasl to survive.
    Yes Cosmos stadium = nasl has a future
    No cosmos stadium= nasl is dead

    Nasl teams moving to MLS= Indy, Minnesota, and if something magical happens in San Francisco or okc, expect them to make the jump as well.

    Up for grabs west markets= Vegas, San Diego, Phoenix, Austin, San Diego, Denver is totally vulnerable.

    • Dandy Don G.

      There is more to US soccer success than Beckham.
      Miami failed in MLS once, it will again.
      Marlins and Dolphins struggle there….lets not kid ourselves.

    • Tommi

      Wow, you really don’t know much about the state of the leagues and markets, & when do you think Beckham will get a stadium and enter MLS, 5 yrs from now? 10? Never?

    • Gazza

      @Curry Sauce TFC, Vancouver and Montreal will never leave MLS. The clubs would fold if they did.

  • Larry\’s A Simpleton

    That’s something that’s been going on, and it seems to be maybe a little more difficult this year then it has been in the past. It’s hard to think that on a Sunday night at 6 o’clock you’re going to draw well.

    gee thats funny. nycfc played the same night and got 2oooo more people to their game. but we all know peterson is a delusional goofball like all nasl fans.

    hey jake. how come you didn’t mention the thousands of free tickets handed out in oklahoma and miami? thats a well know fact my man.

    • Greg

      Hey dude, I was at the game & we did not have even close to 20k. No need to troll. Don’t act like Modell’s wasn’t giving tix away for our home opener either. I’d be happy if we had 2 wins at home or at least one but we have players that are scared to strike the ball inside the box!

    • Claudio Reyna

      Well, we had about 16K in reality, by we padded the numbers & that was nice.

    • Dandy Don G.

      Larry just likes watching Mix run around with his long flowing hair.

    • Larry loves goats.

      Funny you have so much to say about attendance, but nothing to say about wins and goals. Oh yeah, Your team sucks.
      Baaaaaaa Baaaaaaa Baaaaaaaa

      • smurf040

        Yeah, what did they get? 3 points out of twelve? yeah,NYCfc rocks!!! fucking dope!

    • smurf040

      another well known fact is that NYCfc sucks big elephant balls! The worst team in north america!!

      • speedyleftnut

        Awwwww…someone’s mad that the team outnumbers their fams.

        • Speedyrightleg

          Someone else is mad that their team has lost 5 out if 6.

    • Tommi

      @Larry – Yes, Third div usl Energy team in Oklahoma have been giving out many free tickets in an attempt to pad their attendance numbers vs NASL’s Rayo OKC. Many empty seats in the Energy games, Rayo OKC have had standing room only for the home opener and an excellent turnout for the second game with a near sellout and only a few empty seats, you don’t get that with lots of freebies, you get many empty seats like the Energy have had.

      MLS has also been padding their attendance for years with the same group of franchises giving out many freebies to their games.

  • Kevin

    Larry I just like proving you wrong again. I doubt at any point the Red Bulls are being sold. But the rumor 2 years ago was that they would sell for $400-$450 million, oddly around the same amount the Cosmos have offered to pay for their own stadium. You continue to come onto the Cosmos forum and make stuff up, Go worry about your team that is struggling in their own way

  • Eric B

    Let’s wait until Miami plays a game in which they’re not openly giving away free and $1 tickets before we judge whether they are a success. Also, I love how they mention Rayo’s strong attendance, given that OKC Energy had a game the same night, without mentioning that the Energy’s attendance was actually higher.

    • Tommi

      Except Rayo OKC beat the third div Usl Energy for home opener attendance getting 6400, Energy got 5600 for their home opener. Good for OKC though, strong attendance for both clubs, hope they both do well.

      • Eric B

        But they weren’t playing on the same day. Agreed though, strong numbers from two clubs in OKC of all places.

  • Alex gago

    I wish NASL great success we need rhe Cosmos more lobbyists by NASL to political leaders needs to happen and soon. Im am worried about my Strikers.

  • Mix\’s Hair

    NASL wouldn’t be around if MLS wasn’t such a crap league.
    20 years of crap.

    • Artie

      Just cannot watch NYCFC v. anybody on that small, tight field. Looks like a U10 game, crowded and congested. Lots of giveaways. You can even see that the players don’t want to play there. It slants down the left field line where first base is and the infield cut out is horrible. Might as well play at MET OVAL field. As for Cosmos… that stadium is not inviting, atmosphere stinks, random seating on metal benches…. and enough with Pele. It’s like “Weekend at Pele’s.” Enough already, nobody cares, there is no lineal connection. And who the heck is going to go to Icahn Stadium, even more inconvenient. One other comment: There are lots of solid US players that can outplay most of these guys they “find” through their “international scouting.” Seems like Cosmos and other NASL teams want to show they are big league and have an international scouting network and can find anybody anywhere. What a joke? Give me a 4 year US college soccer player with the discipline to study, practice, train and excel at time management 24/7/365 over any of these other players they find with potential. I mean their job is to play soccer from 16 years old on. These guys still can’t shoot or use their weak foot. What are they doing all day? What is there excuse? Where is the discipline. At some point the benefit of doubt will go to a US College player because of discipline, soccer IQ, work rate and professionalism.

      • Jimbo

        Oh boy. Good hard-working Americans losing jobs to lazy foreigners.

        Could be you’re right and some team will blitz the league with 4-year college players that have the self-discipline that eludes these foreigners.

        But maybe you should complain to MLS first, since it is THE MAJOR LEAGUES and is the center of US soccer development and where we all have to worship for US Soccer’s future, even if we don’t like it, it’s only been 20 years, so any century now . . .

        I do admit, you might have a point about lazy foreigners . . . if you were talking about NYCFC.

        • slowleftarm

          What do you think MLS should be accomplishing at this point? You act like 20 years is a really long time. It isn’t considering MLS started from scratch and there hadn’t been a professional soccer league in this country since the old NASL went bust twelve years before that.

          When you consider we have gone from no league at all to a 20 team league (and growing) playing in mostly SSS getting 21k+ per game last season and making $90m a year in TV revenue (MLS had to pay to get its games on TV in the early years), I would say that’s pretty impressive. Academies/reserve teams have been around for even less time so the player development results have to be evaluating from that perspective. It’s still a work in progress.

          If your beef is that it’s not at La Liga/EPL standards, or even Liga MX standards, then I think your expectations are unrealistic given that those leagues have been around for decades and soccer is the undisputed #1 sport in those countries by a mile.

          • Jimbo

            Oh my, you’re a touchy one.

            Try and keep the plot: Archie complained about Cosmos hiring foreigners instead of US college boys who’ve keep their nose in the books for four years. One thing I suggested is that maybe MLS should be doing more. They make money off the national teams after all. They are THE MAJOR LEAGUES. Also, the punchline to every soccer joke in the U.S. has to be: Frank Lampard.

            You seem to think that progress has to be evaluated in the context of effort. So if MLS hasn’t been doing much, well, you can’t complain about lousy results.

            Case in point: Cosmos B, founded in 2015; NYRB II, founded in 2015. However, it’s nice to see that Don Garber is loaning his personal players to NYRB II, that should help.

            Why do U.S. youth players sign with the Cosmos? (I know the answer, and it doesn’t convince me MLS is better for their development.)

            You can say it’s impressive, but I don’t have to.

            • slowleftarm

              Pretty much didn’t respond to anything I said. I assume it’s because you can’t refute my arguments. From zero to what MLS is today is pretty impressive by any realistic standards. Maybe you are too young to remember what it was like to be a soccer fan in this country in 1996. MLS is perfect but if you had suggested in 1996 that MLS would be where it is today, it would have seemed pretty far fetched. By those standards, MLS has been a huge success.

              A couple of youth players, who may not amount to anything, signing with Cosmos for a year until they can go abroad doesn’t prove anything. Cosmos didn’t develop Haji Wright – he was there a few months. LA Galaxy developed him.

              • slowleftarm

                Meant that MLS isn’t perfect of course. Edit button on this site would be a nice addition.

              • Jimbo

                You’re ‘arguments’ are that you are impressed by the MLS because you are ‘realistic’. So what?

                • slowleftarm

                  Right – going from no league to what MLS is now is pretty good. You apparently think it should be as good as leagues that have existed for 100+ years. That’s why you’re not impressed – my expectations are realistic and yours aren’t. Get it?

                  • Jimbo

                    You apparently enjoy straw men. And you don’t get to tell me what to think. Get it? Good. And goodbye.

                    • slowleftarm

                      Haha, and this dude called me “touchy”

                    • Jimbo

                      Pretty sure you’ve (almost always) been called worse.

            • artie

              Jumbo, Learn to read, Four year US college players includes American and Foreign players. There is no amercan versus foreign player point being made. This is the 2nd time this has been pointed out to you, yet you still don’t understand. Speak for yourself and don’t put words or attribute YOUR opinions or assumptions to others. It’s plain old English Jumbo, don’t confuse Presidential politics with a simple discussion about levels of soccer

              • Jimbo

                Farty, learn to read AND write. In my replies I’ve since (1) apologized for my mistake, (2) said I believe you as you explained, (3) explained why I misinterpreted what you wrote, (4) asked which were the lazy non-college players on the Cosmos. Since you can’t understand 1-3, I now know why you don’t realize what’s sloppy about your original writing. Since you seem to be a dope in the slow vein, I don’t expect to hear about (4). Have a good day, month, year, life.

          • Tommi

            MLS’s attendance is padded in many markets and a falacy, lots of freebies in some cities. They also don’t have an independant TV contract, its subsicized and connected to the USMNT which is the real valuable part of the TV deal so MLS TV deal isn’t worth 90 million, much much less.

            As we’ve now found out from the Fox Sports story 2 days ago, MLS also folded in 2001 and had to be reorganized and reborn. They’ve had their difficulties with MLS 2.0 as well.

            • slowleftarm

              MLS didn’t fold. They may have discussed it in 2001 but they never missed a season. Every league’s attendance is “padded” in the sense that they count tickets sold, not butts in seats. Any proof the announced attendance doesn’t actually reflect tickets sold or are you just making things up?

              The $90m is the MLS portion of that deal. Let me guess – you’re a Cosmos fan.

              • Tommi

                Nope, $90 million is not their portion, not even close, seems your the one making things up. And no Cosmos is not my NASL club.

                • Jimbo

                  No, no, you don’t get it. Whatever he makes up is the truth. You are a Cosmos fan.

            • Gazza

              @Tommi MLS has 31 Independent TV and Radio contracts plus MLS Live with over 2.5 million paid subscribers as well as 17 international TV deals

        • artie

          Your words, not mine. Don’t imply what is not said. 4 yr US College players includes many many foreign student athletes. The point is that it take lots of time management skills, commitment and maturity to play soccer at a University as well as maintain your studies, whether US or foreign born. Read and understand what is written, not what you want to attribute. Don’t assume things.

          • Jimbo

            Sorry for the assumption.

            Can you let us know, who are all these undisciplined unprofessional players you see on the Cosmos that didn’t go to a U.S. College?

          • Jimbo

            I do believe what you say you mean. But in my defense, it’s not obvious that when you say <> that “US players” means any student who plays soccer at a U.S. college.

            • artie

              Jimbo, FYI, . these posts have not been posted in order. Now I can see why you misinterpreted everything.

      • Donald Trump Garber

        I support this post. Make American soccer great again. Lock out the foreigners. Bring back Miles Joseph!

      • MTF

        Agree 100% about the Pele marketing. Enough already. I’m 43 years old…I had a Pele lunchbox in kindergarten and he was already retired by then! The Cosmos ‘brand’ is majorly over-hyped. Pele needs the money, but notice you don’t see Beckenbauer having anything to do with the new Cosmos.

    • slowleftarm

      NASL wouldn’t be around if it weren’t for a few delusional egomaniacs who think all you need is the Cosmos “global brand” in order to be successful. 3,500 at Cosmos games suggests otherwise.

      • Mix\’s Hair

        Every league starts somewhere my friend.
        Need I remind folks of the 2000 people at metro stars games in the middle of summer……..

        • slowleftarm

          No need to remind people of that because it’s made up.

          • Dummy

            Fucktard. Look it up. Metro stars vs mutiny. Season 2.
            I can tell u first hand there were sections in lower tier covered in red tarp.

            • Smith

              I was there for that Donadoni and Sorber scored if I recall correctly.

          • jimmy k

            lowest Metro attendance avg. ever was 14K one year, the cos-shmos could only dream of that.

            • Smith

              Yes, but as a Ticket holder since 1996, I can tell you that I attended many, many games at Giants stadium where the actual fannies in seats was less than 10K & sometimes less than 5K. Nick Sack was notorious for giving away tix, they wouldn’t be used & they would still be counted in the attendance.

            • Anthony

              Yeah..was that before or after the 4 double headers they used to pad the stats? Check out the highlights of the 2004 playoff game Metro vs DC…there weren’t even 2K fans there..

              • Smith

                In the 2001-2003 era, they seemed to play doubleheaders every 2nd home game.

              • slowleftarm

                Who cares? Even if there were scattered games where RBNY or Metrostars drew poor crowds that doesn’t mean thousands are going to flock to minor leagues games in Hempstead any time soon.

                Why don’t you guys dust off Pele again? That should get a few dozen more people to come out.

                • Big Bill Broonzy

                  It wasn’t scattered games. It was the norm. When did you start watching team..when they got Henry???????????

                  • slowleftarm

                    This is such a tedious argument. Any attendance number you don’t like is wrong. The team never averaged less than 14k a game, which is still 3 times what Hempstead are bringing in.

                    • slowleftarm

                      “Oh who cares that no one watches my team? I remember back in 1999 3 men and a dog showed up to watch Metrostars.” – typical Hempstead fan

                    • George Guerria

                      you make out like the Red Bulls are so sort of global brand relax and know your place in the soccer universe.

                    • slowleftarm

                      Cosmos fans failure to “know their place” in the soccer universe is exactly why everyone hates Cosmos fans to begin with. You are a minor league team that gets 3k a game. I’ve heard people say Cosmos are the biggest brand in global soccer. Seriously.

                    • EPL !!!!

                      This guy wins the SS and thinks he is watching Real Madrid with their little Red Bull academy – That’s why no one like you you are a buffoon.

                    • slowleftarm

                      I know my team’s place. Kings of NY. Maybe not much in the grand scheme of things but better than anything the other NY clubs have done.

                    • EPL fan

                      Yes, but it was a grossly inflated, imaginary number, you johnny come lately nitwit.

                    • slowleftarm

                      That’s the Hempstead response to everything attendance related – “No one comes to our games well….your 1999 attendance numbers are inflated! So there!” Silly.

                    • EPL !!!!

                      You keep saying Hempstead shows what an imbecile you are. Such a pathetic wanna b

                      Newsflash this Cosmo team will destroy your red bull team.

                    • slowleftarm

                      LOL – yeah just like last season.

                      Thanks as always for the personal attacks. Typical.

                    • EPL !!!!

                      No problem jerkoff.

                    • Yada

                      Why are you so thick in the head ? so childish. Typical of the drunks from harrison

          • Anthony

            Oh, trust me I was there for most of them, there were some pretty amazingly low turnouts for Metro games in the mid 00’s at GS. I wonder how many people even remember how few people went to MLS games from 01-07

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