Can the NASL Succeed in San Francisco? (Part 2)

August 19, 2015

By: Evan Chu

In light of the recent tittle-­tattle regarding a potential NASL expansion franchise in San Francisco, I thought I’d examine the new information and bash it with a sledgehammer.

http://twitter.com/EvanReam/status/633721497631240192 Hearing that the NASL is working with a group in San Francisco for future expansion, targeting a stadium site near AT&T Park (1/2)

Uh-­uh, not gonna happen.  The only unoccupied area near AT&T Park is its parking lot and the land is already the site of the proposed Mission Rock Project (http://www.missionrock.org).  The Mission Rock Project is a proposed “neighborhood” with “waterfront parks, hundreds of affordable homes, and jobs.”  If it goes through, it is slated to bring 11,000 permanent jobs, 13,500 construction jobs, and $1 billion of revenue to the city.  The project has already been endorsed by mayor Ed Lee and the San Francisco Giants.  The project would be up for vote in November and given the myriad of affordable housing and jobs the initiative would provide, it’s probable that it’ll be approved.  Even if it doesn’t go through, though highly unlikely, the last thing it would be used for is a soccer stadium.  The Giants already put up a restaurant type thing on the northern end of the site. Throw in the fact that the UCSF Medical Center is nearby and it’s practically impossible for an ambulance to navigate through traffic if the Giants, the NASL, and possibly the Warriors are playing nearby. It’s ridiculous to even suggest it could be an option.

http://twitter.com/EvanReam/status/633721525863100416 Group is currently looking at temporary stadium sites in the interim. No clear timetable on when team would begin play (2/2)

As I mentioned in part one, Kezar is not a professional venue.  It’s a high school football/track and field stadium, home of Mission HS and Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep football teams.  The NASL plays its regular season into October, two months into the high school football season. Though football games are played on Fridays, there might not be enough time to prep the field and might have to paint yellow soccer lines over the gridiron lines for two months.  It may be common in the NASL, but it’s not ideal and best to avoid it.  The stadium also wreaks of a pungent stench, is in an atrocious condition, and is occupied by splintered bleachers.  Unless you prefer holes in the back of your pants, I wouldn’t suggest Kezar for anything.  Don’t expect many fans on a consistent basis if games are held at Kezar.  Boxer Stadium, located in Balboa Park, sits only 3,500 spectators.  The NASL’s smallest stadium, Clarke Stadium in Edmonton sits 5,000.  Boxer is too small for the NASL and lacks space to expand its capacity and build additional stands.  The stadium’s capacity could possibly be expanded to NASL standards but the stadium also lacks parking and land to build a parking lot.

Given the circumstances, pro soccer wouldn’t work in San Francisco.  There’s just no infrastructure or fan base for a team to succeed in the city.  I was a bit optimistic in the past but their insistence on an AT&T adjacent site is beyond ridiculous.  Land in the city is not cheap and the public would never pay for a stadium.  I doubt any smart investor would believe funding a stadium for a minor league soccer team in San Francisco is financially viable.  If this is truly the intention of a potential ownership group, don’t keep your hopes up.

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