[NASL] Bill Peterson, whose work in sports dates back to NFL Europe, where he worked with MLS Commissioner Don Garber, has been named the new commissioner of the North American Soccer League. His soccer involvement includes six years at AEG, where he was managing director of the Home Depot Center and served on MLS’s Board of Governors and the Chicago Fire's board of directors. Peterson succeeds David Downs, who resigned at the end of the 2012 season.
Peterson, who has spent more than two decades in sports, is the chairman of the USA Cycling and most recently ran his own consulting firm.
He spent nine years with NFL Europe, six years with AEG, three years with Centerplate, a food and beverage company that works with sports and entertainment facilities and one year as the chief operating officer of the now-defunct United Football League.
He joins a league still searching to find its niche in American soccer. The NASL takes its name from the legendary soccer league that triggered the soccer boom in the 1970s but has Second Division status and a minor-league feel.
The NASL operated with eight teams in its first two seasons. It lost the Montreal Impact after Year 1, and added the San Antonio Scorpions, who averaged 9,176 fans in 2012.
Unfortunately, no other club even averaged half what the expansion Scorpions averaged, and two clubs, Edmonton and Puerto Rico, averaged less than 2,000 fans a game.
The league was in danger of not getting of the ground in 2010, but Traffic Sports USA, the U.S. arm of the South American soccer agency, helped prop up several clubs. The 2011 champion Minnesota Stars were in danger of folding until Bill McGuire, former CEO of UnitedHealth Care, bought the club in early November.
The New York Cosmos, who aspire to join MLS, will begin play on Long Island in 2013 -- they recently named Giovanni Savarese as head coach -- and teams in Ottawa and Northern Virginia are expected to join the league in 2014. There has also been a recent push to add a team in Indianapolis.