Since the early days of the Scorpions, it was clear that the young team wouldn’t stay in the NASL forever. While the league provided a foundation for San Antonio to stand on, everything pointed to an eventual move to the major leagues, a move that seems more apparent in the last year or so.
Recently, Minnesota United was selected for the 2015 MLS expansion bid over San Antonio, though a future promotion deal wasn’t off the table. Talks between owner Gordon Hartman and MLS Commissioner Don Garber are said to be ongoing, meaning we could very well see an opportunity for the Scorpions in the future.
It does look as though San Antonio has strong support. The president of the Mexican Football Federation recently sent a letter endorsing the Scorpions’ move to MLS, echoing sentiments of many supporters.
From the San Antonio Express News:
“The city has the infrastructure, resources and diversity that makes San Antonio the ideal place for MLS expansion,” Justino Compéan wrote.
However, despite the desire for San Antonio to move up, is it truly ready? The Scorpions may have been the 2014 NASL champions, but also have a disastrous 2013 season under their belt. Attendance to local matches is a far cry from strong, with less than 7,000 people seating seasonal games out of a capacity of 8,296. Playoff matches saw roughly 300 more people on average, but still fell nearly 1,000 seats short of full capacity, which is very worrying for any promotion bids. This problem was commented on by a member of the Crocketteers, a Scorpions support organization.
“You’d think every game would be sold out,” Jeffrey said. “Even the second half of last year, building up to the championship, you could see we were probably going to go all the way, and still the stadium wasn’t even sold out.
What could be the reason for this? Both FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo saw 16,000 to 19,000 in average attendance for their 2014 seasons, while the Scorpions could barely reach half of that. One could argue that stadium placement is a factor, as Toyota Field is 20 or so minutes from downtown San Antonio, but FC Dallas has a similar arrangement with Toyota Stadium, which is played in a completely different city than the team’s home. Since only Houston has a downtown stadium, there has to be something else precluding San Antonio from consistently selling out their matches.
It’s apparent that the Scorpions need to grow their fanbase and continue their performance from 2014 if a serious consideration from the MLS is to happen. As long as the team does well and the Scorpions brand grows within San Antonio, the idea of promotion isn’t far-fetched. We’ll just have to wait and see.