By Paul Kennedy
It's been quite a Year 1 for the San Antonio Scorpions. The NASL expansion club is in first place. It leads the Division II league in average attendance at Heroes Stadium by a wide margin. And it has reached a sponsorship agreement with Toyota that includes the naming rights to the soccer-specific stadium it is building.
Under construction adjacent to Heroes Stadium, Toyota Field will initially hold 8,000 fans but can be expanded to a capacity of up to 18,500. The agreement also calls for Toyota to sponsor Morgan's Wonderland, the amusement park Scorpions owner Gordon Hartman built for special-needs individuals.
The initial capacity of 8,000 seats is less than the 9,397 the Scorpions averaged through their first 12 dates.
“It's a major, major commitment,” Scorpions president Michael Hitchcock told the San Antonio Express-News. “We couldn't be happier.”
Hitchcock added that the Scorpions expect to make a small profit in 2012 but revenues would triple at Toyota Field.
Toyota Field will be the second U.S. soccer-specific stadium the Japanese automaker holds the naming rights to. MLS's Chicago Fire opened Toyota Park in 2006.
MAKING A LIST. How do other lower division teams stack up compared to the Scorpions in terms of average attendance? Here are the unofficial leaders in average attendance from the NASL, USL PRO and PDL, based on games played through Aug. 19:
AVG. TEAM (LEAGUE)
9,397 San Antonio (NASL)
6,606 Orlando City (USL PRO)
6,265 Rochester (USL PRO)
4,573 Atlanta (NASL)
4,265 Wilmington (USL PRO)
3,947 Charleston (USL PRO)
3,474 Des Moines (PDL)
3,437 Carolina (NASL)
3,357 Ft. Lauderdale (NASL)
3,141 Tampa Bay (NASL)
Sources: dohertysoccer.com and kenn.com
QUAKES SEEK NAMING SPONSOR. The San Jose Mercury News' Elliott Almond reports that MLS's San Jose Earthquakes are in negotiations for naming rights to their new stadium with three Fortune 100 companies.
Quakes president Dave Kaval told the Mercury-News that interest has taken off since Saturday's announcement that groundbreaking on the proposed 18,000-seat stadium stadium would be held Oct. 21.
The stadium will be built in the heart of Silicon Valley, on a vacant lot across from Mineta San Jose International Airport.
GOLTV BLOW. How much has beINSport impacted GolTV? The Al-Jazeera-owned network has snatched GolTV on-air talent (Phil Schoen and Ray Hudson) and management personnel (marketing director Juan Ochoa), it acquired rights to Spain's La Liga GolTV formerly held, and it has -- in effect -- taken its spot on DirecTV's English-language lineup.
DirecTV, which recently added BeIN SPORT, intends to remove the English-language GolTV from its Sports Pack effective Sept. 13. The Spanish-language version will still be available on the Mas Latino package.
GolTV holds the U.S. media rights to the German Bundesliga and many South American leagues.
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