Open letter to Roger Goodell
Dear Mr. Goodell,
What has been witnessed all season long at Qwest Field in Seattle is the potential of professional Soccer in the U.S. Interestingly, it has all taken place at a football stadium. Who would have ever guessed, 14 years in, that MLS would make its biggest impact in a football stadium. It’s been tried at other active NFL football stadiums for years and has failed or keeps failing, i.e. New England.
Whatever it is that makes Seattle different, the proof is there that Soccer in an American football stadium can work. So, why is it important for you to see that Soccer can be successful in an NFL football stadium?
Because the NFL is a business. You are there as the commissioner to look for business opportunities for your clientele, the NFL owners. One of your consistent musings is growing the American football base and bringing in new football fans from around the world. But really your main mission is, and always will be, improving the bottom line.
Expanding the NFL’s assets, by owning and operating a new professional Soccer league, to be played in NFL stadiums in the off-months, is a zinger of an idea. If done with the same zest and brilliant marketing that has made the NFL the apple pie of the American sports world, Soccer could also garner huge revenues.
This is your golden opportunity. MLS has laid all the groundwork for you. Now, you can come in, make the appropriate changes that sports fans would want from Soccer and flourish as owners of the #1 and #4 most popular spectator sports in the country.
Seattle has already shown you that keeping the team colors the same (Sounders and Seahawks) is a great idea. They’ve also shown how savvy of an idea it is to have the front office from each team work together in partnership with regards to operations, marketing, sales, etc…
Learn from this cooperation and market Soccer during football season and football during Soccer season. Each sport leads into the next quite fluidly, without any real overlap, as the Super Bowl is played in February and the start of the NFL season is September. A March to August format for pro Soccer gives dormant stadiums the chance to come alive during the spring and summer months.
Your best option would be to include a women’s league to accompany the men’s league, having them traveling together as visiting teams, giving the fans two games for the price of one.
Your best bet is to convince as many of your owners to go with natural grass as their playing field of choice. With this in mind, you should try to keep the rivalries and divisions set up like they are in the NFL. Probably best to leave the dome teams out because outdoor Soccer was never meant for indoors.
But you never know, if the Soccer is exciting enough and the scoring can get closer to 4-3 instead of 1.7 to .75, just maybe it is possible for domed stadiums and the other lame, sterile stadiums to attract the amount of fans necessary to justify their existence. The upper decks can be sold for advertising, no worries. Just concentrate on the lower decks and 25-30,000 fans per home game. If you can, learn from the Sounders.
U.S. sports fan and non-purist Soccer fan