|Any time you spell extreme as Xtreme,|
you have a problem. Yes we're looking
at you XFL.
If any indoor soccer league would ever have a chance to succeed, it would be the I-League. The difference between the I-League is the experience of the USL. Not to pick on the MISL, (as they are still going, with 5 teams) but they are a stand alone league. From 2001-2008 it was sanctioned by the USSF, but not anymore. The United Soccer Leagues are an experienced organization that have enough sense to not expand to quickly. According to the map of their proposed expansion for the next 4 years, they are going to add a region or two every year until they cover the whole of the US and Canada.
The I-League is looking for markets to start teams in, and the 3 teams that have already been announced are the Norfolk SharX, the Rochester Lancers, and a team based in Syracuse, New York. According to the I-League website, the requirements for the franchise's arena are:
- A capacity of 2,000-10,000
- The arena must be able to hold a field with the dimensions of 200X85
Look up at the map above. South Carolina is in the area for expansion this year. Barely, but we're there. We have plenty of good arenas for this; the Bi-Lo Center in Greenville, which hosts the Greenville ECHL team, the Road Warriors, or the North Charleston Coliseum, home to the Charleston ECHL team, the Stingrays, are the most likely candidates for this. The only reason I don't mention Columbia's Colonial Life Arena, is because of the 2,000-10,000 seating capacity range that the I-League is looking for (the Colonial Life Arena holds 18,000). The Bi-Lo Center, are much closer to the 10,000 seat range, with the Bi-Lo Center holding 13,000 for hockey, and the North Charleston Coliseum holding 11,000. In this situation, hockey is the most comparable to indoor soccer, capacity wise.
The one edge I would give to Greenville is that they don't have a soccer team, but of course the edge to Charleston is that they do. It has advantages and disadvantages for getting a team. Having another team in Charleston could "mess with attendance" because of economic issues, while not already having a team in Greenville could give them a clean slate for the city. But what comes with already having a team, is a market for soccer in Charleston, while not having a team in Greenville, well gives them a clean slate. Both would be tough fits, and this is all speculation, but you would hope that some city in South Carolina wants an indoor soccer team. But finding the right place, poses the problem.
More information on the I-League can be found on their website: http://ileague.uslsoccer.com/
You can contact me at SCSoccerblog@gmail.com.