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

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36 Responses to Open letter to Roger Goodell

  1. Brian Zygo says:

    In the early days, Baseball team owners saw soccer as a way to use their stadiums year round, but then they turned on the sport fearing that it could become more popular then their stick and ball game.

  2. Jason Davis says:

    I’m just not a fan of this. Soccer in the US needs less people with multiple concerns, not more. Generally speaking it just leads to the bigger sport taking precedence over soccer.

    Being a “purist” has nothing to do with it; I just don’t want to see soccer get the short end of the proverbial stick.

  3. Michael says:

    Mitch, are you American?

    Because that’s the only excuse for thinking the NFL would do anything with soccer than either kill it or bastardize in into something only vaguely resembling the worldwide game.

    There isn’t even a debate here. Awful.

  4. Michael says:


    (Not being American would be the only valid excuse, that is.)

  5. John Baker says:

    I disagree with the soccer/football stadiums work the best. It has worked for Seattle. I think this market is more pro-soccer than most. If Sounders had a soccer specific stadium I still believe they would have the same attendance.

    I also disagree with the same colors as the local team idea. Colors are there to make you stand out. I think soccer needs people to love soccer, not because it is close to football.

    MLS has the right idea; that is each market is different and needs to be specific for that city. I live in Salt Lake and love my RSL. We tried the football stadium and it didn’t work. Now we have one of the best stadiums in the country. The players love the field and the fans sit closer to the game.

    Just my two cents.

  6. Fan says:

    Did they move April Fool’s Day to Halloween?

    I’d call this article moronic, but I don’t want to insult any morons.

  7. Lars says:

    Nothing surprising. This is the same guy who said that we should widen the nets and bring in rule changes such as unlimited subs so that the game could become more americanized and exciting.

    Disagreed with you then, continue to disagree with you now.

    The last thing the game needs is bastardization.

  8. Seybold says:

    The Sounders green/blue colors are the same as the old NASL Sounders from the 1970’s, whose existence predates the arrival of the NFL.

    • Michael says:

      To be honest, the Sounders FC decided on “rave green” so that they would stand out from the Seahawks/Mariners. (The Seahawks paid a bit of homage with one-time rave green jerseys recently.)

      But yes, blue/green have been Sounders colors since 1974.

  9. Rob says:

    The MLS is not more popular than the NHL, making it the 5th most popular spectator sport.

    1. NFL
    2. MLB
    3. NBA
    4. NHL
    5. MLS

    And that’s the list.

    • Berlin says:

      He said in this country, Canadian fans don’t count.

      • Lars says:

        NHL still gets better ratings and attendance. Thanks.

        • Randall says:

          NHL teams all averaged about 800 fans more per game than MLS in 2008. I’m guessing the Sounders will push the MLS above NHL this year.

          • Rob says:


            NHL teams played (and will play this winter) 52 more games than MLS teams for a total of 41 home games (26 more than MLS).

            Pitting MLS v. NHL is not a smart idea because the NHL just plain has more history than the MLS. Both sports are fighting for similar markets, so to put them up against each other makes no business sense. But the average attendance argument will never mean anything because of the bottom-line total numbers. Look those up and tell me what you find, Randall.

      • Rob says:

        Couldn’t you say the EXACT same thing for the 20,000+ that watch TFC every weekend north of the boarder. Not to mention Vancouver and Montreal fans who (will for VAN might for MON) play in the MLS in the future.

  10. Matthew N says:

    The idea that a group like the NFL would be even remotely interested in the MLS is RIDICULOUS. What a waste of the author’s intellect.

  11. Alejandro RUiz says:

    Great Plan!!!!

    1994 called, it wants it’s business plan back.

  12. sal says:

    Mitch, your in lala land.

  13. bocasounders says:

    Who is this Mr. Goodell?

  14. BayVol says:

    Possibly one of the worst pieces on this site.

  15. theugly says:

    One of the worst ? You mean there actually may be worse ones than this?

  16. olemus says:

    why would you consider writing a story like this. soccer is not meant to be played football stadiums. The reason it works in Seattle if because they have always had a history for the love of soccer. Don’t be writing crap like this any more.

  17. Oscar says:

    Wait, whaaaa…?

    Positive Sounders coverage on MLS Talk?

    Kartik, fire this guy quick, before he posts another article!

  18. yeah,
    Your best bet is to convince as many of your owners to go with natural grass as their playing field of choice.

  19. Reaper says:

    Dear God! Seriously it’s bad enough that Garber basically killed the idea of a single table. It’s idiots like you who are going to to the bastardization this game so much that it won’t even be soccer anymore.

  20. Dave Clark says:

    While Qwest might be proving that it can work.

    Don’t the following stadiums prove that NFL Stadiums and MLS doesn’t?

    Soldier Field
    Rose Bowl

    God, I can’t even remember all of the awfulness of the first version of MLS when it was hardly a soccer league with all of the Americanization.

    In fact the relationship headed by Kraft between the Patriots and Revolution show that the NFL/MLS thing is a large problem, one great year here in Seattle does not overcome the multiple years of failure (as a business) in New England.

  21. Charles says:

    QWest was build for soccer and football, it was voted on by the public as such, it was built as such. They even said the stadium would have real grass originally, I believe.

    I agree with the idea that partnering up is a good idea, but it is not a partnership when the lines for football are a mile wide and the soccer lines are a thin yellow line.

    I disagree with the readers that are the Euroway is the only way lovers, or the soccer only lovers. It just doesn’t work in the US, Seattle is the perfect example of this. Sitting at a bar next to the stadium Thursday, everyone was watching the World Series and the UEFA game that was on.
    Asking the fan to quit loving the Mariners/Seahawks/Supersonics and ONLY love the Sounders is just stupid.
    Giving that choice and putting on the rule that you have to act like a British guy while doing it will result in 10-15k Sam’s Army guys showing up.
    Gotta go, Seahawks are in in 33 mins, followed by LA-Chivas.

  22. Charles says:

    “soccer is not meant to be played football stadiums. The reason it works in Seattle…..”
    Not to be a jerk, but let me finish:

    The reason it works in Seattle is because QWest was built for soccer and it a great stadium to watch a game.

  23. Charles says:

    20k “Soccer Specific” = We can’t draw more than that, so let’ call it “Intimate”

    I fully realize there are reasons for teams owning their own stadium to increase revenue, but call a spade a spade. IF the MLS ( or another league for soccer ) is going to succeed they need Seattle sized QWest like stadiums drawing crowds so they can pay salaries to compete.
    Do England teams have small stadiums ? Sure, but the league has a LOT of money coming in from the teams that actually can win. Many probably want to follow that model, I probably should too, as the Sounders would win every year like ManU, but for a parity league, all boats have to rise. And all boats rising means they need bigger stadiums for all if/when the league grows.

  24. Glenn says:

    I have to agree with most of the comments on here. This is a dumb idea and a dumb article.

  25. Ivan says:

    Am I the only one who thinks that playing soccer on an artificial turf is a travesty? Com’on, this sport is meant to be played on grass, and it is beyond me why Toronto FC uses artificial turf. At least they don’t have to share their staidum w/ anyone: it is a soccer-specific stadium.

  26. Tom says:

    One huge problem is this excludes the non-NFL markets- Salt Lake, Columbus, Toronto, Vancover, Portland, L.A., and San Jose. Another problem is that most NFL stadiums suck for MLS soccer, and many NFL stadiums are mainly useless for their communitties, while MLS stadiums do well for High School football playoffs, concerts, club sporting events, etc…

    If that model works in one city, good for them. But that is and should be the exception rather than the rule. Variety, in stadium size, market size, business structure, style of play, player development, etc… makes for a fun league.

    And Charles, you don’t understand how scarcity sells tickets. If the stadium is small, and people believe it could sell out for a premium game (Beckhem, or the next star), then they buy tickets and ticket packages in advance. Thus feeds itself, because ticktets actually do get scarce. Plus the event is not done in by weather, etc… I’m glad attendences are huge in Seattle, but most markets need the smaller stadiums to create scarcity and a better atmosphere. The Rapids are a much better night out in the new stadium.

  27. Charles says:

    I do understand scarcity, but you have to agree that there is a huge risk that 20k max stadiums don’t sustain a league ?
    The league needs to get to a point to be able to pay double the salaries they paying now, which keeps talent here, which in turn draws more fans ( except in a stadium that has 20k max ).
    Otherwise I see NASL 1983 all over, when my Sounders started drawing 10k and the league was done.
    Glad you like your stadium by the way, enjoy, Connor Kasey ( sp ? ) is one of my favorites.

  28. 2010-2011 CONCACAF Champions League says:

    This is an awful article, written by someone with the sports knowledge of perhaps a 14-year old girl. Absolute rubbish.

    If I wanted to read such nonsense, I’d go to Yahoo Answers. Who is the editor of this site, and why does he allow these wastes of time to get posted?

  29. Jason says:

    Dumbest thing ever written.

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