The North American Soccer League has announced that Bill Peterson will begin serving as league commissioner, following the decision of David Downs to step down earlier this fall. Peterson had experience working with soccer in America from 2000 to 2006, when he was the Managing Director of the Home Depot Center, the home of Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA.
Peterson, who said he'd spent the past nine months in Winnipeg, working as a consultant with the Canadian Football League Blue Bombers, set out an agenda for the NASL that's centered around getting fans in the stands. Calling it "priority one, two, and three," he said, "The biggest thing I want to see is our teams focused 100% on creating a great environment and promoting to fans in their local markets and filling their stadiums. When that happens, the other things fall into place."
Asked what changes he'd like to see from how teams currently promote themselves, he begged off based on his short tenure in the job so far, saying, "I don't know what each team is using and not using. But I really believe when people get a chance to watch a game, they're going to come back."
Peterson also left the question of the NASL's newest team, the New York Cosmos, open-ended. In 2013, the NASL will go to a split schedule - with one half of the season taking place from late February through June, and the second half running from August through to November - and rumors have flown that the Cosmos will not be ready to begin play as scheduled for the first half of 2013. Said the commissioner, who lives in Florida, "I'd like to leave that until I have a chance to go up there and meet with them."
The split season may be difficult for local fans; the Stars will potentially face either a long road trip to open the season, the need to play home games in the Metrodome until the state thaws out, or a few awfully, awfully cold games in the early and late portions of the season. Traditionally, Minnesota's soccer teams have avoided scheduling home games until late April or May.
Peterson, however, was not worried about the need to play in the cold. "Those guys are tough," he said. "They make some great warm-weather gear."
Left unaddressed, however, was how soccer might be played on a frozen, snow-covered field with no grass.