The November 2010 Issue of the soccer magazine FourFourTwo, which featured Pelé on the cover, had an interesting article titled the The Fall and Rise of Chester FC. Thanks to the club's supporters, the now-supporter-owned team was able to successfully relaunch in 2010.
The one section I will always remember about the Chester FC article is the small section titled How to Relaunch a Football Club in Five Easy Steps. The section can be applied to any ownership group who wishes to launch a professional soccer club in North America.
The five steps were: (1) Get the Media Onside, (2) Get Local Business Involved, (3) Get Advice from Other Clubs, (4) Get a Manger Who's in the Know and (5) Get Former Players Involved.
One club that comes to mind that has successfully followed this model are the San Antonio Scorpions FC. They are a team who will make their professional debut in 2012 when they play their first game for the North American Soccer League (NASL).
I'm fully aware that I can go into detail and educate you how the Scorpions have implemented the five steps and have kept their fans engaged, but I won't. I want you to go to their site and thoroughly search how they've implemented each step.
By no means am I implying that the Scorpions front office read the article and have implemented but if they actually did...more power to them. Without a shadow of a doubt, the San Antonio Scorpions are building a team that they community wants. How involved is the community?
From naming the team to selecting the team's crest and jersey, the San Antonio community has been involved with the team. In addition, this is a team that already has three active supporters groups.
The Scorpions will play their inaugural season home games in North East Independent School District’s 11,000-seat Heroes Stadium at Thousand Oaks and Wurzbach Parkway in the former Longhorn Quarry, and a portion of Scorpions profits will benefit nearby Morgan’s Wonderland.
Completely wheelchair-accessible, Morgan’s Wonderland is the world’s first ultra-accessible family fun park designed with special-needs individuals of all ages in mind. While running a sports team is a business, one has to applaud the Scorpions because this maybe the first time in which an inaugural professional sports team will directly support a non-profit organization.
“We’ve come a long way in a relatively short period of time to build a high-quality soccer club,” said Gordon Hartman, founder of Soccer for a Cause, the community-wide effort that’s bringing pro soccer to San Antonio to further boost the sport’s growing popularity and to expand educational programs and services at non-profit Morgan’s Wonderland.
In an era where some front offices believe it's best keep their fans out of the loop, the Scorpions front office has done a marvelous job in keeping their fans engaged. Go to the Scorpions' website and you'll be impressed with the President's Blog.
Not only has the team been open to reveal their stadium plans, they've been clear with their head coach search and their goal of meeting with 900 businesses in 90 days. While the front office has been entrenched in meetings, they managed to host events for their fans in the San Antonio Community.
If you're a soccer fan who follows American soccer, how many teams do you believe initially went and asked for their community's input for building a soccer tradition in their area? Furthermore, how many teams do you know who has made it clear that a percentage of their profits will go to support a local non-profit?
What's at stake for the Scorpions should they succeed in the NASL? MLS Commissioner Don Garber said, "You never know. San Antonio has got a new minor league team. If they end up becoming successful in the second division (NASL), they might be good prospects to virtually promote up into MLS."
There's really no other way to say this other that the San Antonio community could have not asked for a better owner in Gordan Hartman and team president in Michael Hitchcock and their front office. Not only are they brought a team to San Antonio, they've embraced the community and asked them to play a role in the process.
For more information about the San Antonio Scorpions, fans can obtain information at www.SanAntonioScorpions.com. In addition, Scorpions fans can follow the building of their team at http://www.Facebook.com/SanAntonioScorpions and http://www.Twitter.com/SAScorpions.
Cesar Diaz covers Soccer for LatinoSports.com. He also writes for 5 Points Press & USSoccerPlayers.com ; your source for American Soccer news brought to you by members of the U.S. National Team. Easily accessible, you may reach Cesar at firstname.lastname@example.org and at Twitter at @CoveringSoccer.