By Evan Ream
I want to preface this column by saying that I genuinely hope that the upcoming San Francisco NASL team is successful.
I support the game of soccer, no matter what level it's played, and do really want success stories to emerge, especially in this country.
That being said, the decisions that the San Francisco NASL group are making are the most convoluted and confounding series of choices in American soccer since the idea of Chivas USA.
According to Urban Dictionary, the Tyson Zone is "the point at which a celebrity's behavior becomes so insane, that there is literally nothing they could do that would any longer shock or surprise you, or indeed any human being.
"So named after boxer Mike Tyson, who at one time was the heavyweight boxing champion of the world, since which time he has 1) married a semi-famous tv star at the time, 2) alleged to have abused said wife, 3) divorced, 4) chewed off the ear of another boxer during a match, 5) received a facial tattoo 6) owns and tends to his pigeon coop, located on the rooftop of a New York apartment building."
Assuming that we can get by the fact that the SF NASL team is not a celebrity, but a sports entity, I think we're right there.
To recap how the SF NASL group officially entered the Tyson Zone, here is the timeline of events involved:
About two months ago, in three tweets, I first reported that the NASL would be expanding to the San Francisco area, and that former Ft. Lauderdale Strikers minority partner Ricardo Stanford-Geromel was leading the charge.
BREAKING: I'm hearing that the NASL has accepted Ricardo Stanford-Geromel's San Francisco-based expansion bid into the league (1/3)— Evan Ream (@EvanReam) December 4, 2015
Sources are telling me that the SF NASL team will be announced after the Super Bowl and aims to begin play in 2017 (2/3)— Evan Ream (@EvanReam) December 4, 2015
Before we get to the third tweet, let's discuss a few things.
The fact that the NASL would expand to San Francisco isn't surprising. The league has long needed to expand to the West Coast in order to increase its geographic standpoint, where the closest team to California was as of the end of the 2015 NASL season, Edmonton.
San Francisco makes sense as a city because it's a large market, has a lot of potential corporate sponsors, and is perhaps the most iconic city in the world.
According to my sources, Stanford-Geromel's group was actually one of two Bay Area-based entities, along with San Francisco City FC, that was talking to the NASL about expanding to the area, but the significant financial advantages of the Stanford-Geromel group made it an easy favorite.
So the NASL gave them a team, again, according to my sources who only shared the information anonymously due to their intimate relationship with key players in the deal.
This brings me to my third tweet, as seen below.
Sources also telling me that Stanford-Geromel's group, which includes local ownership, believe they can get a downtown stadium in SF (3/3)— Evan Ream (@EvanReam) December 4, 2015
From everything I've heard, Stanford-Geromel, an entrepreneur from Brazil, is an incredibly kind person who has been making the rounds in the San Francisco area, trying to set up connections for the club.
That being said, the idea of a club garnering a downtown stadium in a city with some of the highest property prices on the planet, is absurd.
The San Francisco 49ers, one of the flagship franchises of one of the most wealthy sports leagues in the world, were driven 45 miles south to Santa Clara to get a stadium deal done.
For years, the team rotted away in Candlestick Park, which also wasn't in the city limits.
Both the San Francisco Giants and Golden State Warriors managed to find stadiums within the city limits, but only after years of hassles, complex issues, and major politics.
Neither of those clubs are second division soccer teams.
Sources have told me that in the mean time, the club will look at temporary stadium locations, including likely Kezar Stadium.
Kezar is in a great location, easily accessible via public transportation, and in an area surrounded by a few local watering holes.
The catches are numerous, however. First, the stadium is mostly open for public use, meaning as long as no one had rented out the stadium for the day, we could go play on the field right now.
This, in addition to the plethora of high school football games hosted, means that not only is the natural grass surface in pitiful condition, but also has the odd distinction of being a grass surface with football lines on it at times.
Furthermore, as the stadium borders Golden Gate Park, parking is limited, just as it is in the rest of the city. That being said, despite the track around the field, the venue does have an ability to foster a quality atmosphere, as it did for Sacramento Republic FC's U.S. Open Cup game against the San Jose Earthquakes in 2014.
I was in the press box for that game. The Internet didn't work. The Bay Area is the tech capital of the world.
A few weeks after my initial report, the group launched its website, bayareaprosoccer.com.
The website featured a place you could enter your contact information in order to receive updates from the club as they approach their announcement.
Also notable about the website was the fact that it offered potential fans the option to view the information either in English or Spanish.
Or Portugese, Stanford-Geromel's native language.
Omitted from the options were Chinese, which is so common of a language in San Francisco, that public transportation announcements are made in English, Spanish, and Chinese.
Also not present were options to view the website in Tagalog.
According to this SF Gate article, 64.2% of people in the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont metropolitan area speak English at home. 14% speak Spanish, 7.1% speak Chinese (either Mandarin or Cantonese), and 3.7% speak Tagalog.
Fewer than 0.5% of people speak Portugese.
Naturally, I signed up on the email listserv, eagerly awaiting the club to update from its "Alpha" status.
I was rewarded soon thereafter as the club sent me an email with the subject line "Our First Prank" on Dec. 29.
The club had decided that it would release a fake website, with a fake team name to "prank" people.
The website, which is still up and running here, named the club "Foggers United Association Football Club."
The email explaining the prank gave us this gem: "We promise we'll have some updates next month," it reads. "In the meantime, we'd like to let you in on an inside joke.
"There are a bunch of people digging for information non-stop and spreading rumors. One of the items they are looking into is our name. We thought we would have some fun with them, so last week we got together for beers with 10 of you super fans and come up with a FAKE name and website they could 'discover.'
"If you want to help us prank them, feel free to share on Facebook and Twitter something like the text below. Thanks in advance and happy Tuesday!
"New Bay Area pro soccer team accidentally revealed their name. Check it out before they take it down www.fuafc.com #meetthefoggers"
While this is certainly odd at the very least, I found it funny because they shared an "inside joke" with someone who is presumably one of the people "digging for information non-stop and spreading rumors."
Two weeks later, they released the "Beta" version of their website which included some paragraphs on triangles and technology.
According to the website, the club was interested in triangles because Johann Cruyff thought the triangle shape was the perfect way for three members of a team to keep continued possession.
This is good logic, and something coaches preach from a young age. Bay Area Pro Soccer also mentioned the "Red Triangle," a name for the greater Bay Area region.
As someone who has lived in Northern California for over 20 years, this was the first instance I've heard of the "Red Triangle" being used to describe any region in the state.
In fact, there is a triangle that represents a region in Northern California that is common slang in the area. Only, it's the "Emerald Triangle," a region near Oregon, which is one of the largest producers of marijuana in the world.
A week after the debut of its new website, Bay Area Pro Soccer graced us with its new logo. I promptly sent out the following tweet:
Yes, this is the SF NASL logo. No, it is not a joke pic.twitter.com/5AjhDk79xO— Evan Ream (@EvanReam) January 21, 2016
I received over 30 responses on the nature of the logo. Not a single response had a positive connotation. Here are some of my favorites:
@EvanReam This crest is so awful that I can't even think of other badly designed logos to compare it to. It's bad in a completely unique way— Bhaskar (@xbhaskarx) January 21, 2016
@EvanReam Can't wait till this is available on a kick ass pog slammer!— Brian Riley (@superbrianland) January 21, 2016
And to put it quite plainly, this last one:
Which brings me to today. Today the SF NASL group released its name via email. And it's bad.
And this was revealed as possible team "swag."
This is a real piece of merch that the SF NASL team sent me in an email. Does it get any more Tyson Zone? pic.twitter.com/LDwE0I4agr— Evan Ream (@EvanReam) January 31, 2016
It's really hard to say much more about the team.
Their stadium plan is unrealistic, and a temporary solution doesn't appear to be any better.
Their website is hilarious in every way.
Their logo is atrocious. And the name. The name is the worst part of it all.
Yes, there is a Delta in Northern California, but it's located in the Sacramento, and trickles into the Suisun Bay, which continues into the San Pablo Bay, which then finally pours into the San Francisco Bay.
Said Delta, called the "Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta," also doesn't lie in the area allegedly known as the "Red Triangle" (or the Emerald Triangle for that matter).
Coming from the West Coast, a lot of the things the NASL does haven't made sense to me. But this, this is on another level...in another zone. The Tyson Zone.
Evan Ream covers Sacramento Republic FC, and apparently Bay Area Soccer, for the Davis Enterprise. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanReam