Floods could delay Calgary NASL franchise by one season; Winnipeg investor making inquiries By Steven Sandor Posted on July 3, 2013 12 0 615 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter 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.