Serious Case of Red Stars EnvyBy: David | June 8th, 2009
Hi. My name is David. And I am an FC Gold Pride fan … with a massive case of Red Stars Envy.
I want my team to be the Chicago Red Stars. And, I’m not really talking about the team on the pitch. I am mostly happy with the players that wear the Gold & Black. On the field, the teams are mostly the equal of each other. Following the teams’ draw on Sunday, one point separates the teams in the WPS Standings:
- Pride: 3-5-2, 11 points in 10 games
- CRS: 2-3-4, 10 points in nine games
Besides, if I wanted football excellence, I’d be jealous of the LA Sol.
The CRS Experience
No, I am mostly jealous of the fans of the Chicago Red Stars … it starts with the best team name and the best jerseys, and it pretty much goes from there. Not to mention that they get to wear stars on their jersey without ever having competed for a championship.
The Red Stars have a cool 20,000 seat stadium in which to play, that they appear to share happily with their hometown MLS side. Through five games, they’ve averaged 4590 fans.
The Pride’s Buck Shaw Stadium has a reduced capacity of 6280, and is also shared with the SJ Earthquakes, who despite their woeful record, continue to draw twice the crowd the Pride does. The Pride’s five-game average is 4309, which has had the benefit of a visit from Marta, who hasn’t been to Chicago yet.
Three of the five Pride home games have had smaller crowds than the Red Stars smallest crowd of the season (which was 3664 against Sky Blue FC, against whom FCGP drew a paltry 2533)
Sure, CRS had a five-game homestand they used to build that energy … and the Pride are about to enter a four-week period with only two games (except for road games at Boston 6/17 and at Los Angeles 6/21, they are idle until a July 5 home game against St. Louis. But that’s just part of the karma problem I’m having.
Road Trips & TV
In another twist of fate, the Red Stars have a reasonably close geographical rival, who isn’t the LA Sol. And they have a well-organized Supporters Group called the Local 134. These two things aligned nicely for the CRS inaugural game in which the team sent a bus load of fans to St. Louis. That’s a five hour drive! … Who’s going to LA with me in two weeks? … thought so.
The Red Stars also have a real life “pub bus” for fans.
Oh, and TV! The Red Stars fans get all the television love. Pride fans? not so much. With the exception of the bussed-in fans who saw the inaugural game in person, fans in Chicago have been able to watch every other game on TV or the Internet. Between regional cable deals, Spanish-only webcasts, and a serious dose of Fox Soccer Channel, 14 of the 20 CRS games will be viewable from couches all over Chicagoland.
While CRS fans get all of that screen-time, FCGP fans get to watch their team only six times, and two of those are courtesy of the local CRS arrangements mentioned above. The Pride actually got dumped from FSC as the August 9 Game of the Week, which will now feature the Breakers and LA Sol epic rivalry.
And it didn’t help that FCGP management passed up a chance to have this past Sunday’s game broadcast live in the Bay Area. The game was live on Comcast SportsNet in Chicago (and in many other regions across the country) – but not here. The team probably thought that a local broadcast would eat into their ticket sales. Maybe we will get to find out how many new fans The Pride will get from tape-delayed TV broadcasts of the game showing this week, but it’s hard to argue the gate could have been much lower than 2956.
Local Ownership Group
Don’t get me wrong. Any local owner willing to drop major dollars on a money-losing venture like Womens Pro Soccer is worthy of significant worship. If I had millions to drop on a professional soccer team full of role models for my daughters, I’d give them away by buying a team too. So, I love the NeSmith Family.
But it’s hard to compete with CRS team co-investor and CEO Peter Wilt, who by all measure is the coolest owner in WPS, with cross-country soccer jaunts and pleasure trips he thoroughly documents on Twitter.
And it doesn’t hurt that I met him on Sunday, and had a great discussion about soccer. And Alaska.
So … now what? I was going to go to LA for the Pride’s game on June 21 … but I think I’m going to Chicago for July 12 instead. Shall we all get on the bus together?