Written By Josh Farnsworth
Images By Frank ‘The Franchise’ Wade
Top 8 “Expansion-worthy” Destinations
The streets of downtown Baltimore are finally swept from the last few traces of ticker tape following the Vultures’ Season 17 championship parade. It’s a scene 23 other locales hope to duplicate when Season 18 concludes. Season 18 marks the third straight season the SFL boasts the same collection of 24 teams and although this writer has no inside information about imminent franchise expansion, the SFL’s continued success suggests a bump in squad numbers may be more of a “when” than “if” situation. A guy can dream, right?
But when expansion comes to fruition, where to put those teams? The last batch of expansion applicants showed some pretty solid geographic diversity, but ultimately the viability of an ownership group more than likely carries more weight than their ZIP code. Let’s throw potential bidders out the window (not literally, that would be criminal).
My specs for this list: cities that (according to my limited brain) have never had a franchise before (sorry, NYC, Chicago, San Fran and more), have some geographic market appeal and fill some sort of competitive/cultural need. After an amateur level of minimal research, here are my ‘Top 8 never-been-used-to-this-columnist’s-knowledge’ destinations to consider…
So let’s get this homer-ism out of the way first. Yes, I am from Massachusetts, so I would probably make a case for every town big and small to get a team (I’m looking at you, St. Johnsbury, Vermont). But when I look at a map, there is a gap in the Northeast. New England has a handful of viable cities that could act as the epicenter of a fresh organization. That said, Boston – a proud sports town – could surely embrace an SFL franchise with open arms…Or “ahms”.
Potential nickname: Blizzard (maybe a little too close to Florida’s nickname and color scheme, but there is room for two weather-related teams, right?)
Grit. Toughness. These are two words that embody both football players and a city ready to hop on the SFL train. Philadelphia is such a strong market that has never been utilized. Plus, they’ll immediately gain local rivalries with Baltimore, DC and Boston in this scenario. Get those extra shots of the Rocky steps ready.
Potential nickname: Great Danes (official dog of Pennsylvania; Liberty Bells and Cheesesteaks are too on the nose.)
Canada’s second largest media market would be my first choice to give Vancouver a Canadian counterpart. It’s a vibrant city with some solid history of sports behind it. I like the combination of having another Boston-Montreal rivalry to look forward to and the chance to appeal to additional international players/coaches/etc.
Potential nickname: Jazz (they host the largest jazz festival in the world, so seems more fitting than that squad over in Utah)
This just feels like an underdog city in need of an SFL home. I can see the stadium now affixed to the waterfront or perhaps with the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in the background as SFLers strive for e-gridiron greatness. Dream with me, readers.
Potential nickname: Axes (as in guitars, not actual weapons though that might look decent, too)
Editor’s Note: Due to the fact that Mr. Farnsworth previously stated his lack of research at the beginning of this article, I will not reprimand him too much for overlooking the Cleveland Stallions, an SFL franchise that disbanded back in Season 9.
I am not against having the team labelled as St. Paul or Minneapolis (Editor’s Note no. 2 – Yes, we remember the Maulers). However since they are twin cities, and as a parent of siblings, I can say, those squabbles might go on and on if you let one city have the SFL franchise while the other gets stopped short. Imagine an outdoor stadium to increase the likelihood of snow games. Quite frankly, the SFL could use more frigid, lightly frostbitten tailgaters in the e-audience.
Potential nickname: Wind Chill (the marketing writes itself… The Wind Chill: we’re a factor)
Strong city? Check. Strong market? Check. Strong possibility the Midwest could use another presence? Check. By my calculations, this city hasn’t seen a professional football title in a while. Maybe adding an SFL franchise will get the state of Michigan excited for a second team to glide in and challenge for the trophy? Double check.
Potential nickname: Dash (get those muscle car images ready, Cam)
Overseas is ripe for expansion. Europe is home to the London Knights, but they feel in need of a geographical rival. There are many cities worthy of a shot: Paris, Amsterdam, Dublin, Athens, Rome, Sydney and Stockholm are a few possibilities just thinking about the matter for a few seconds. Ultimately, Madrid just feels like the right city to take a leap forward into the SFL universe. The culture. The gravitas. Just make their stadium a makeshift bullfighting arena. (Editor’s Note no. 3 – The SFL Beat Writing Team does not endorse bull fighting, unless it creates an entertaining ‘Fails Video’ on the internet)
Potential nickname: Matadors (some nice alliteration, chance to have bright red jerseys pop and creates an interesting talking point whenever they play the Fort Worth Toros).
Since we are giving new neighbours to London and Vancouver (well, not geographically close but at least someone to nationally identify with), let’s give Mexico City a national rival. Tijuana is the second largest city in Mexico and one of the fastest growing cities in the Americas. Also, this would make a great next door showdown with San Diego.
Potential nicknames: Golden Eagles (I mean, do you see what the national bird is doing to that snake in the country’s flag? I’m on board.)
Others to consider: Calgary Comets, Indiana Torque, Pittsburgh Iron Hammers, Tampa Bay Barracudas
‘The Read Option’ will return next week with more interesting thoughts from the quirky mind of Josh Farnsworth