A Fan's Plea: Please Don't Move

Friday, September 18, 2009 | View Comments

American soccer, just like the big professional sports in the country, follows a franchise model. This means that each club is wholly owned by an individual or group, whom are free to sell or move the team at any point; when relocations occur, there's always a fan base, passionate and loyal, left behind.

Rumors are circulating that the Cleveland City Stars, a USL club that just completed their first year in USL-1 (they finished bottom of the table) will be purchased by a group looking to move the team to Elkhart, Indiana. MFUSA reader Cody Vild, a loyal City Stars supporter, shares his thoughts with us.

Today started as any other day as a fan of the Cleveland City Stars. That was until I found the article that suggests a potential sale of the team. What compounds matters is that the new owners have the idea of moving the team to Elkhart, Indiana.

As a follower of the City Stars, this news is quite disheartening. After following an USL-2 team, which more or less dominated in its first two years of existence, and had an interesting year after there "promotion" to USL-1, it would be a shame to see them leave. They have just started to build a history with the city and it would be a travesty to see them ripped from us (not quite as bad as the Browns, but still upsetting).

The idea of moving this team to a city with 10x less people seems a little silly to me. I know that Elkhart claims that they can support an USL club, but one would think it would be more important to develop a fan base in a city with a much larger market. It is not like Cleveland is a wasteland of soccer. In a 2006 friendly versus Venezuela, Cleveland Brown's stadium drew a very respective crowd for a game with moderate importance (~30k for a 72k stadium). Also, the Cleveland area is home to Brad Friedel’s Premier Soccer Academies. Cleveland had one of the most popular teams in the NPSL in the Cleveland Crunch, which for me gave me my first nudge in loving the beautiful game. Depriving a large market with a rich soccer history would be truly detrimental to the state of soccer in America.

So hopefully in the end the Green Army has a team to root for. Cleveland cannot afford to lose another team, especially to a city where not only does it hurt Cleveland soccer, but America as a whole.
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