Which Texas city is MLS ready?

Published: Mar 09, 2014 14:11pm EDT
By Sonny Long, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Mar 09, 2014 @ 05:46pm EDT


With the start of the Major League Soccer season, discussion continues about Texas as a prime location for a new team in the league when expansion comes in 2020.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber is on the record saying Texas is a likely spot for a new team, but which city will get that disctinction remains to be seen. Both Austin and San Antonio are in the conversation.

San Antonio would seem to be the frontrunner.

The North American Soccer League Scorpions have built a new soccer stadium there -- Toyota Field -- and recently sold out the 8,000-seat venue for a match against FC Dallas. The stadium can be expanded to 18,500, certainly major-league worthy. Also, obviously given the stadium’s name, corporate partners are in place, too.

The fan base in San Antonio also seems to be abundant.

At the city’s Alamodome, more than 19,000 fans attended when the U.S. Women’s National Team beat Australia last fall. Earlier this year, 54,000 turned out for an international friendly between Mexico and South Korea.

A petition for San Antonio to join the MLS has garnered thousands of signatures and Texas-native celebrity Eva Longoria has tweeted her support for the cause.

The Alamo City seems to be light years ahead of Austin in being ready for major league soccer.

Austin has a semi-pro soccer team – the Aztex -- but a new stadium would have to be built. The team currently plays at House Park, a 6,000-seat venue that was built in 1937 and also hosts high school soccer and football games for four local high schools.

Last week the city council approved “studying” the feasibility of bringing MLS to the Austin.

Regardless of which city gets the nod, MLS franchises in Houston and Dallas are likely to have a new in-state soccer rival.

And speaking of major league sports coming to San Antonio…later this month MLB’s Texas Rangers and Houston Astros will wind up their pre-season with two games at the Alamodome.

This will be the second year of major league exhibition games in San Antonio. Last year, the Rangers and San Diego Padres played there, drawing 75,000 fans for the two game set.

That had to get the attention of owners in places like Tampa Bay and Oakland who are fielding teams with poor attendance or stadiums that need upgrading or replacing. Of course, the Alamodome isn’t the answer for a Major League Baseball Stadium in San Antonio, but if the success of the city’s only major league franchise –the San Antonio Spurs -- is any indicator, MLS and perhaps even MLB come become a reality.

What about the NFL?

When the New Orleans Saints were displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, they drew 65,000 to the Alamodome for a regular season game against the Detroit Lions. The chatter among fans and sports talk types is that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones would never approve of another NFL franchise in Texas, especially in San Antonio where the Cowboys are firmly entrenched as a fan favorite.

But, I’m getting way ahead of myself.

San Antonio needs to get to first base with a commitment from MLS and who knows what else might fall in place.

As the hashtag for the petition to bring major league soccer to San Antonio reads, #MLSReady.


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