This article is in response to Red State University
’s retort of an article the Office of Homeland Security - MU Division
wrote just the other day …RSU: If this is the case, then why is soccer the number one particapatory sport in the country, even beating out the "National Pasttime" baseball, and the "most popular game" football? Why are soccer stadiums springing up all over the continent as RSU reported recently? Why does MLS draw comparable crowds with other "Big Four" leagues NHL and NBA?
Though I am not aware of the source from which Red State University
retrieved this statistic, I would not disagree with it. However, it should be noted that the main demographic participating in sport of soccer are in the younger set, specifically those of grade school age. As far as popularity is concerned, soccer still lags behind American football, baseball, basketball, ice hockey, and even tennis
. Red State University
claims that soccer stadiums are ‘springing’ up all over the country (a remark I would beg to differ with) and that it draws crowds comparable to the ‘Big Four’ leagues of NHL and NBA, the statistics however are from cities with much larger populations then the city of Milwaukee, a statement I argued throughout my article.RSU: As opposed to what ParkEast is now? A decaying patch of unused, undeveloped land? The ParkEast project would not only include the stadium, but also retail, office, and residential space. Milwaukee Professional Soccer LLC estimates the mixed-use development would add 1,000 white collar jobs to the Milwaukee economy even BEFORE the stadium was accounted for.
I am not opposed to building in what is now the decaying ruins of the ParkEast development (nowhere did I state that in my article). However, I do not believe a soccer stadium would be economically logically given the unpopularity of the sport in the United States, specifically in the region of the Midwest (according to a survey report conducted in April 1997
, of all the regions of the United States, the Midwest is the one in which soccer is the least popular), and the already thinly stretched entertainment dollar of the city’s citizenry. And while I would not argue that a soccer stadium, or anything else built in the ParkEast development, would bring jobs to the city, these are after all estimates coming from Milwaukee Professional Soccer LLC and not an outside firm. I do not feel reassured about the project unless a statistical estimate or survey is released from an outside firm with no specific involvement or interest in the project as opposed to one which has been trying adamantly to have a stadium built within the city of Milwaukee, for better or worse.RSU: One of these things....is not like the others...What do Marquette Basketball, UWM Basketball, the Milwaukee Admirals, Milwaukee Wave, and the Milwaukee Bucks have in common with each other, but do NOT have in common with MLS? That's right. Their schedules all run from October and November through March, April, and May at the latest. MLS season starts the first week of April and goes to the first week in November, essentially the offseason for all of these sports. As such, the "emaciated entertainment dollar" argument is bunk. Even if the Brewers are factored in, if Milwaukee can support FIVE teams in the winter (not including the many Milwaukee natives who also attend Packer games, and Badger football and basketball games) then why can Milwaukee not support TWO teams in the summertime?
But there lies the problem … we can not support five teams in the winter! The Milwaukee Bucks have been having financial problems for years now, stemming mostly from decreased attendance. The only reason they have not been sold as of yet, though there has certainly been discussions of that very topic, is because Senator Herb Kohl, the owner of the team, has been reluctant to do so. As I have already stated, the Admirals are not doing well financially and neither are the Milwaukee Wave. And beyond sports, there is Summer Fest, the Wisconsin State Fair, and a flurry of other summer festivals, concerts, and activities draining a majority of the entertainment dollars from the city’s populace, including the Brewers baseball franchise.RSU: The Admirals do not draw because they are not a major league team. If Milwaukee had an NHL team, I would imagine it would experience more "Bucks-ish" numbers because they are Major League. To see how this applies to soccer, we will examine the case of 2005 MLS newcomer Real Salt Lake. Milwaukee's population is 583,624. Much more than Salt Lake City's 181,743. In 2004, Salt Lake City was home to the Utah Blitzz of the USL Second Division (Think the Class Double-A of soccer). They drew crowds around 500. This year, Real Salt Lake drew crowds in the 20,000-30,000 range routinely. There is a different buzz when the superstars of the sport are coming to your town, rather than some minor-league team of nobodys.
I do not understand this argument. Hockey is hockey. Why does it matter whether they are a professional league team or not? If the closest city with a professional league team is Chicago and you already have a hockey team in the city of Milwaukee, one that was just in the playoffs, why does it matter if they are professional or not?RSU: Milwaukee Professional Soccer CEO Peter Wilt has said that taxpayer dollars will not be used to build the stadium. What he is requesting is TIF financing, which would essentially mean that the stadium would not pay property taxes to the city for 10 years to get the project off the ground. Before anyone says that that is lost revenue, keep in mind that the site of the proposed stadium is currently an urban wasteland not even fit to be a parking lot, and the land is owned by the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County, so no tax revenue is being collected on it anyway! That of course assumes that there are no sales taxes placed on tickets and merchandise purchased at the stadium and that no income tax is collected from the newly created jobs. MLS in Milwaukee is a win-win for everyone involved.
Excuse me but they said the exact same thing about Miller Park. Last time I checked taxpayers are still having to pay that off and because of the tax placed on the city for the stadium, the Brewers are hoping to extend it further in order for tax money to be spent on other items (such as plasma screens televisions for specific areas of the stadium) beyond what it was suppose to pay for, specifically upkeep of the stadium. The proposed soccer staidum would only be a ‘win-win’ situation for the city if it were to succeed beyond the ten year time frame in which the site would not be paying property taxes … IF it succeeds. There is no guarantee that soccer is viable in the city of Milwaukee.RSU: I recently attended a game at Uihlein Soccer Park between Milwaukee Wave United and the Chicago Fire. The game drew 3,400 fans with almost no publicity. now, USP is very hard to get to, tucked away on the Northwest side of Milwaukee. Do you mean to tell me that between all the Mexican immigrants on the south side, all the soccer moms in the suburbs, all the other soccer-mad ethnic groups in Milwaukee, and the casual fans like the rest of us, that there wouldn't be enough people to make a decent showing at a central downtown location, with parking facilities and public transportation already in place, should Milwaukee get an MLS team? If SALT LAKE CITY can do it, why can't Milwaukee? A city twice as large and MUCH more ethnically diverse?
Let’s examine this logistically – Hispanics make up twelve percent of the population of the city of Milwaukee. Do you seriously believe that every single hispanic in the city will show up to each and every game and be able to shell out money regularly to fill up a twenty-thousand seat stadium? I doubt it. Secondly, soccer-moms show up to support their children … for free! They don’t usually shell out money regularly to attend a soccer match that does not involve their own children. And lastly, if your franchise is relying on the casual fan to fill up a twenty-thousand seat stadium, you are in deep financial trouble my friend.