On Monday, we heard reports that the NASL would be expanding to Hartford, Connecticut. The league issued a statement late Monday evening that nothing was yet finalized, but the matter is definitely going to be discussed at the league's Board of Governors meeting this week in Atlanta.
With that in mind, we decided it's probably a good for a quick refresher on some of the cities being rumored to have interest in NASL expansion, along with a prediction on the likelihood of short-term news.
As we know, the big rumor is a new expansion side in Hartford is in the works, with reports coming in all over that the new Hartford City FC is on its way. The area is promising, with a strong community and the possibility of a somewhat local rival for the Cosmos. From what we know, this location is not only very promising, but the league has all but announced the new expansion side. Rich Coppola, director at FOX CT, says that the new club will begin play at Dillon Stadium in 2016 if all goes to plan. Personally, I believe the idea of a local rival is great news for not only the Cosmos and their fans, but the league as well.
Prediction: Very, very likely
Hamilton, Calgary, Winnipeg, and other Canadian cities
For a long time now there have been rumors of a big expansion movement by the NASL that will result in the creation of a number of new Canadian teams as well as a new Canadian division. While the league has consistently swept aside the idea of such a division in the near future, they have not ruled out the possibility of new expansion sides in Canada. According to Bill Peterson, he would like to see "at least two more teams up there" in the near future, and that the league is working with the CSA to see the development of as many as four clubs in Canada. Read more about it here.
The Canadian market seems to be a strong one, and with the comments from the Commissioner, I would say expansion into Canada is one of the more plausible opportunities for the league.
Prediction: Very likely, especially Hamilton
There are reports in Puerto Rico suggesting that the Islanders could be looking to return to the NASL, after a several year hiatus due to financial issues. Those same reports indicate that Carmelo Anthony might be interested in joining the ownership group, so even if it's a bit unlikely, it's still something to watch.
Prediction: Fairly unlikely
There has been back and forth about NASL expansion to Los Angeles for a long time now, but nothing has come to fruition yet. This, despite several occasions where expansion was supposed to be announced imminently. With the MLS having a strong hold on the area, with the very successful LA Galaxy and a planned Chivas farm team replacement, it could be hit or miss for the NASL to set up shop in the city, with the possibility of fans being to preoccupied with the MLS to notice a NASL side. On the other hand, the soccer-crazy city could be the perfect location for an expansion, and the league will eventually need a Pacific time zone club to retain division 2 sanctioning.
Prediction: Somewhat unlikely
San Fancisco City FC, an ametur, fan-owned side in (go figure) San Francisco, has announced that they were looking into expanding into the NASL. The team plays in the San Francisco 49er’s old stadium, and they have seen a little success at the club level. Despite that, it will be interesting to see where this story may lead, and the league may very well look into expansion if they seem strong enough.
Detroit City FC is a very interesting possibility for expansion. Despite playing in the NPSL, the team has an impressive fanbase and a strong team. Even though they play at a high school field, they consistently fill the stands for their games. With the very strong fanbase and somewhat untapped market, Detroit, besides the obvious financial issues of the city itself, could be a very real possibility. I personally love the idea of Detroit City becoming an NASL side. In a city that most wouldn’t find very good for soccer, they have beaten the odds and given back to the community as well. The club has stated that it has interest in expansion, and it would be a fitting result to wrap up their story.
Our friend Bill Peterson brings up huge statements on expansion again, this time concerning Chicago. The large sports market, heritage, and all but promised automatic fan support make the Chicago market a very possible location for a new side. As Peterson said, there is no real organised attempt, but he seems to have his mind set on expansion, and Chicago is a very attractive location for a club. Again, you can read more about this here.
Prediction: Very, very possible