Home NASL & USL More NASL & USL Floods could delay Calgary NASL franchise by one season; Winnipeg investor making inquiries

Floods could delay Calgary NASL franchise by one season; Winnipeg investor making inquiries


The disastrous flooding that struck the city of Calgary may have dashed any hopes of NASL soccer kicking off there in the 2014 season.

Joe Petrone, the former FC Edmonton director of soccer who has been working with two separate investors’ groups looking to bring an NASL team to Canada’s fourth-largest and wealthiest city per capita. Petrone told The 11 that NASL commissioner Bill Peterson was slated to arrive in Calgary two weeks ago to meet the secret investor groups —but the flooding of the Elbow and Bow rivers, which caused billions of dollars in damages.

Petrone said one of the groups is local, while the other is an out-of-town consortium looking to locate a team in Calgary.

Petrone said that the aim was to have games in Calgary’s McMahon Stadium, home of the CFL Stampeders, in time for the 2014 season.

“You have 15,000 seats in the lower bowl, and 15,000 more up top; you can close off the top like they do in Vancouver,” said Petrone. (Ed. note: McMahon’s official capacity is just north of 35,000)

But, now, any kickoff for a franchise would be delayed — as Peterson has yet to meet with either of the groups.

“You know, in terms of hiring a coach, getting the players, you can build a team in four to five months, there’s still time,” said Petrone. “But the real challenge comes with the marketing. It’s not a lot of time, it’s a big part of running a professional team.”

And, really, with one of the largest natural disasters in Canadian history still fresh in their minds, is this the right time to push a new pro soccer team in Calgary?

So, Petrone said that 2015 is now the more realistic time for the franchise to be launched. And he stressed that it’s vital that NASL get teams into the West, citing expansion possibilities in San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Albuquerque and Spokane, Wash. Of course, having those markets in Mountain and Pacific time zones would be vital to FCE, which is isolated in the northwest in a league dominated by teams in the American southeast. Calgary is 275 km from Edmonton.

A group wants to bring NASL to Oklahoma City in 2015, but will be embroiled in lawsuits with a rival group that has been awarded a USL expansion franchise for 2014.

But the Calgary groups aren’t the only ones who have been having Canadian expansion discussions with Petrone. The former FCE front-office head is working as the de facto headhunter for Canadian expansion investors; and he said that six months ago, he was contacted by someone looking to bring the NASL to Winnipeg.

Peterson has been known to be bullish about Winnipeg, as he spent time there as an advisor the to CFL Blue Bombers. He speaks glowingly about the city.

Petrone said that once Peterson has taken over the Calgary process, which could come in weeks, the gears will shift. Petrone will then work with helping the Winnipeg bid take shape.

If Calgary and Winnipeg join NASL, they will join FC Edmonton and the Ottawa Fury. That would give NASL four Canadian teams, with hopes for another franchise in southern Ontario.

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  1. hangarcat

    July 26, 2013 at 1:18 am

    I’d love to see a NASL franchise in Calgary, and it can definitely use McMahon as the interim, but a soccer specific stadium is what it truly needs to succeed. Build a 10,000 seater with some decent highway access, better TV sight lines, and bring in the local unis to practice there. Build it and the soccer fans will come. I think this city is big enough and diverse enough to sustain it. Plus we could always use another battle of Alberta. Heck, I’d love to see a Voyageurs Cup match in my hometown.

  2. Mike

    July 4, 2013 at 1:42 am

    Just because a city has a football stadium doesn’t mean it’s a soccer venue. A soccer pitch should be a requirement for getting a team because eventually the call goes out for the taxpayers to build them one. Edmonton badly needs to sort this out too since they broadcast their games on TV and IMO it doesn’t show well at all.

    • footy

      July 4, 2013 at 10:14 am

      But Mike, thinking like that, there would be no pro soccer club in Canada. Perhaps TFC (was BMO constructed before the club or the other way around?). You have to start somewhere.

      • Moose

        July 6, 2013 at 6:16 pm

        I beleive BMO was constructed before TFC for the 2007 U-20 World Cup. Toronto FC and BMO are a nice legacy of that tournament.

        Mike is correct in saying that anything less than a soccer-specific pitch make games look terrible on TV (and TV is a major way of winning new fans). Nothing looks more amateur and off-putting than seeing pointy-ball lines on a soccer field.

  3. Jason Kmet

    July 3, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    I am totally puzzled by Petrone’s comments about McMahon. Has he ever been there? It is not a two deck structure like BC Place – each side has one big stand. Now you could tarp off the seats in the top sections (which has never been done there to my knowledge) but it is nothing like BC Place at all. Take a quick look at a picture of the stadium and this is obvious. This statement worries me – how can you be serious if you don’t even know what the stadium looks like?

  4. bq

    July 3, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Dan, sadly the Puerto Rico Islanders are history. I know people from down there who have been involved with the team and also people that have been involved with the NASL. Word on the street is there is no way they are coming back. It’s something Edmonton is probably happy about.

    • mlsrwriters (@mlsrwriters)

      July 6, 2013 at 8:12 pm

      I do remember that over 3 weeks ago NASL commissioner Bill Peterson was quoted in the Indy News online alleging that he’s giving the Puerto Rico Islanders until the end of July to solve their problem, or otherwise face total expulsion from the league.

  5. footy

    July 3, 2013 at 7:44 am

    NASL headquarters is probably more concerned about decent ownership, in the sense that they don’t fold after 2 not so great seasons. In that respect, the Islanders are an example. And I think they are a lost cause by now.

    Realistically speaking, the 2014 time-schedule was far-stretched to begin with. Having a bit more time is only better if you want to put up a proper franchise. My guess is, looking at the ownership-requirements and the people who are involved in the current teams, we should be looking at owners of other sports teams (and stadiums for that matter). In Calgary, there is only one group owning (practically) all the teams, so that would be the in-town group (Petrone could be bluffing about the other group, just to keep things going fast enough). In Winnipeg, the Blue Bombers with their new stadium would make a lot of sense (why use that stadium only for the CFL season?)

    But what is up with the USL? I’m not too familiar with the case in Oklahoma, but it seems everywhere NASL wants to expand, suddenly a USL pro team emerges. What’s that all about? And it’s not that teams as Phoenix, LA, VSI Tampa BAY (?) are drawing major heads or something. It just seems a tactic to prevent NASL from growing. I thought USL was supposed to help development of soccer in North-America? It seems there’s lot’s of “old pain” still present in the USL-headquarters…

  6. Dan

    July 3, 2013 at 3:13 am

    The NASL is mandated to not to have more than 25% of its teams from outside the US by the US Soccer fed. Counting FCE, Ottawa don’t forget the PR Islanders adding 2 or more teams outside the US would cause the NASL to go over that threshold and they would lose their 2nd division postiion on the North American Soccer pyramid. Unless of course 1. NASL wants to expand to 20 teams then have 5 teams from outside the US is ok, or 2. they don’t really care about being a second division league because they don’t see themselves that way.

    • Steven Sandor

      July 3, 2013 at 3:16 am

      Dan: Over and over I have been told by various officials that the USSF would relax the rule. Think of the 25 per cent “rule” as more of a guideline. Can’t see USSF spiking the future of second division by getting caught on the 25 per cent.

  7. Soccerpro

    July 3, 2013 at 2:43 am

    The Calgary stadium situation is worse than Clarke IMHO…

    • Madmonte

      July 3, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      I respectfully agree.

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