Attendance Up For Reincarnated NASL As It Aims To Become Viable Alternative To MLS
The NASL is three years into its relaunch after folding in '84, and so far, things are "going pretty well for the upstart league," as attendance was up some 30% this year, putting it "somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000 per game," according to Leander Schaerlaeckens of FOXSPORTS.com. The Cosmos also "made their long-anticipated return in the fall season." The league "has expansion on its mind, after two seasons in which it lost and gained a team." It will grow next year from eight to 11, one of which, Indy Eleven, "has already sold out the 7,000 season tickets." NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson said of the league's first stint, "Everyone remembers what happened and everyone watched other leagues in soccer and other sports fumble this one. The policy is to take it slow and steady and at the end of the day make sure we have the right owners in the right cities that will ensure long-term growth." He said that new owners are "carefully vetted." The NASL was sanctioned by the U.S. Soccer Federation as the second division in pro soccer beneath MLS, but the league's "ambitions are hardly befitting of a lower tier." Peterson said, "We have no interest in being a minor league system." The NASL believes that there are "enough serious soccer fans in this country to support two professional leagues." The NASL in that equation has "positioned itself as the anti-MLS." The idea is "for every club to be largely unregulated and entirely self-sustaining, rather than being subservient to the larger entity." This is "antithetical to the MLS model." Still, Peterson is "coy when asked if he sees MLS as a rival business." He said, "We’re not competing with MLS" (FOXSPORTS.com, 11/22).