Does San Antonio Deserve an Expansion Bid?

MLS expansion has centered on Orlando. But why isn’t San Antonio in the conversation?
by Chris Hockman   |   Friday, July 26, 2013

Defending The Fort - column on San Antonio Scorpions (SASFC) & the San Antonio soccer scene.

Whenever people talk about MLS expansion, one name seems to always come up: Orlando City.

And of course, Orlando is drawing good crowds and playing good football, but surely San Antonio should be at least in the picture.

Before this article goes any further it's important to get my biases out of the way. Having written about soccer in Central Texas since moving to the United States in 2010, I was there for the birth of Orlando City.

I remember when Phil Rawlins, who had earlier won an award from the Austin Chamber of Commerce, just moved Austin Aztex overnight. I remember Rawlins taking season ticket payments just one day before moving the organization to Orlando City. I will never forget the damage Rawlins did to soccer in the Texas capital (some fans still won't attend the new Aztex games for fear of having their hearts broken again).

That's basically a long way of saying I don't like Rawlins. He's not the most popular man in Texas these days, but Orlando City has certainly worked out for him. It was sneaky, it was unethical, but it's working and OCSC deserves to be in the MLS conversation.

Yet for all that, San Antonio is absent from the conversation, which seems rather odd as San Antonio has the same sort of crowds, similar on-field success and could be a very useful market to MLS.

The argument that always comes up is that Texas already has 2 teams. Exactly, another rivalry in MLS would be great, and besides, California has 3 clubs. And if you transpose a map of Texas on the northeast there'd be far more than 3. Not to mention Texas is the 2nd most populous state in the country.

San Antonio ranks as the 7th biggest city in America, putting it as the 2nd biggest without an MLS team below Phoenix, which seems incredibly unlikely, while Orlando ranks 77th, well below even Austin and barely above Laredo.

Of course city size isn't the only factor, but in this case 70 whole cities between the 2 is quite a lot, especially when you factor in the extra support Houston and Dallas away fans will bring to those games.

To focus on another area, the 2 sides differ the most obvious is with a stadium. While Orlando has been trying to get the city and state to buy a stadium for the club, with no success, San Antonio already has a stadium and did so without tax payer money.

For a league that has been insisting teams come to them with a stadium already built (or just give them $100 million in the case of NYCFC) it seems this could be a sticking point for Orlando.

In a lot of other ways, the 2 cities are hard to split. Both are very well supported, both would be a superb addition to MLS, but only Orlando is getting any attention.

The more savvy will realize what the big missing link for San Antonio is, an owner who wants to make the jump and is willing to spend the money now. In Rawlins and his fellow owners, Orlando has that.

Rawlins has to go MLS. It's why he moved the team and he's willing to spend the money to do so.

That's the difference.

Chris HOCKMAN

Nationality:
Australia
College:
Univ W. Sydney & Youthworks Coll.
Club Domestic:
Houston Dynamo, San Antonio Scorpions, Austin Aztex
Club Foreign:
Central Coast Mariners
Originally from Australia found football (or soccer as you Yanks call it) a great connection in a new country. Freelance writer since 2005 covering Australian and US Soccer. Based out of San Antonio but can regularly be seen in Houston, Austin and Dallas.
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