The City of El Paso has undergone a drastic overhaul in city representatives, aesthetically and in quality of life. MountainStar Sports Group’s El Paso Chihuahuas have been nothing short of a hit and as El Paso’s city hall went down, a new revitalization of downtown began.
Reluctantly, many people have embraced the new ball club and winning the PCL Championship helped that come through, however, the city has been more and more opposed to change, especially around its “historic” downtown areas. A downtown sports arena that passed in 2012 by a landslide 85 percent, was fought over by individuals and groups determined to not have the arena downtown. Since then the arena has become nothing more than an entertainment and cultural arts center as those opposed to its inception chalked up a minor victory… in some way.
This brings up the main question now. Where does the new arena for the USL’s newest franchise call home?
The USL has had it’s share of issues, stemming from a lawsuit by another D-2 Soccer League, to dropping out of D-2 completely as recently as 2011, and facing stadium issues in existing cities that do not meet the current D-2 standard. D-2 Soccer standards indicate the need for a 5,000 seat minimum in a soccer specific stadium, meaning NONE of the facilities currently in use in El Paso are suitable for the USL’s newest franchise.
Perhaps also disheartening to some fans is the USL’s basic structure of games. Only Western Division opponents play Western Division opponents and East vs East, then the winner of each league plays one another in a one game “final” to determine the winner. Similar to the current construct of the PCL vs International League… minus the potential star power.
Its unclear what the outcome of the El Paso USL Team could be, but optimism has to be scaled back when looking at the way soccer is ran as a whole. The deregulation of the MLS means stars can be easily poached, and there is a real possibility for less fan connection to the players than in most other sports. When looking at the numbers of the Juarez Bravos compared to any El Paso soccer franchise, you have to consider the fans from Mexico, not only missing these games, but having little to no interest since their tier is considered much higher competition than the USL.
It will be interesting to see what will happen in the near future as the USL’s newest franchise is set to get underway, but until there are more answers, its hard to be optimistic about the team. The one looming specter over El Paso’s new marriage with the United Soccer League, is knowing how volatile the sport is. With constant team and league foldings, was this really the venture the City of El Paso should have invested in?