Youth soccer facility, eliminating the middleman, starts its own pro team
The National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn., is the model everyone wants to follow when they want to built a big honkin’ facility to host big honkin’ youth sports tournaments. But the National Sports Center stays one step ahead. Not only does it provide the means for parents who dream of their children going pro, but it also now provides its own pro team.
The center decided to own its own Division II-level pro team (one level below Major League Soccer) to replace the Minnesota Thunder, a National Sports Center tenant that died as the United Soccer League converted into an old name playing a lower-level game, the North American Soccer League. Pele will not be in this league.
Inside Minnesota Soccer gets the word from Paul Erickson, the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission’s executive director, on why the National Sports Center is expanding into the professional sports business:
The one advantage we have, we are the only owner in the entire division II system that owns all of its own facilities. We also have the largest soccer complex on earth with 4 million annual visitors. Now that we are owners of this team we have the ability to program all the youth soccer tournaments and other facilities and incorporate a professional soccer experience. Now that the owner of the team is the owner of the events, we can do a lot more creative things in building ticket packages into the events to make it a comprehensive soccer event.
Plus, the National Sports Center has a beer garden.
The facility is having a name-the-team contest through Jan. 26. Your choices are: the Minnesota Voyageurs, NSC Minnesota, FC Minnesota, Minnesota United, Minnesota Northern Lights, Northstar FC, or that ever-popular choice, Other. Everything but Other sucks. How about the Fats?
You can laugh at the idea of a Minnesota Fats record album, but Etta James is allegedly his daughter, and she had to get the talent from somewhere, right?