Dear Birmingham Club Soccer Community –
How are you these days? Doing well I’m sure. Club spring seasons are about to start and I imagine the thousands of kids that populate your rosters, the parents that generate your revenues, and the hotels that benefit from your tournaments are anxiously awaiting the first kick-off. As a parent of two children that currently play recreationally, I know I am excited for March to get here.
Did you hear the news earlier today? Chattanooga FC announced two major events at Finley Stadium in downtown Chattanooga. First, the US Men’s National Team (yes that team) is all set to play a friendly against Jamaica on February 3rd. Second, Chattanooga FC of the NPSL is all set to host a friendly pre-season match against Atlanta United FC of the MLS on February 11th. Both matches are expected to be sellouts of just around 20,000 fans. I would wager that many of those 40,000 fans will be players and parents from your clubs.
Let me repeat for emphasis: Chattanooga, a city with nearly half the total metro population of Birmingham, is hosting two soccer events (the first of which will be televised nationally on FS1) that are expected to collectively sell 40,000 tickets next month… in a stadium that was not long ago on the brink of extinction. Think about the impact those two games will have on the youth clubs of eastern Tennessee. I imagine it will be a considerable boost to business, don’t you?
How did this happen? How has a city like Chattanooga built a soccer infrastructure that attracts world-class teams like the USMNT to play on a well-worn field in downtown Chattanooga?
Well, I imagine it starts with an awful lot of cooperation amongst the local soccer community. You see, ten years ago, Chattanooga FC laid a foundation that has provided a fertile soil for soccer to grow exponentially in and around their metro area. And the local youth club scene has flourished. You all should know, you compete against the Chattanooga teams in regional tournaments quite often.
A semi-professional club in Chattanooga has built the template. Can Birmingham figure out how to follow it? That remains to be seen. But nearly four years ago, a group of smart, vision-centered, business-savvy soccer fans in Birmingham created the Birmingham Hammers. The Hammers’ brand has been growing every year as they approach their second official season in the NPSL… the same league and conference as Chattanooga FC. The foundation is currently being put into place. But the Hammers cannot do it alone. They need your support.
First, as a parent of kids that love soccer, and secondly as a soccer fan myself, I urge all of the clubs around the city of Birmingham to figure out how best to support the effort to bring professional soccer to the Heart of Dixie. The children that play for your clubs will benefit from your support of the Birmingham Hammers. The city of Birmingham will benefit from your support of the Birmingham Hammers. And ultimately the game of soccer will benefit from your support of the Birmingham Hammers.
There is no reason that the Birmingham soccer community shouldn’t figure this puzzle out if all parties work together. I hope you guys are able to see through the competive cloud of “market share” where you fight over individual players, and instead realize that a strong professional team in Birmingham will create “market growth” for all clubs.
A Magic City Soccer Loving Parent