Three weeks ago, Wrong Side of the Pond reported that David Sattwerwhite, owner and CEO of the Cincinnati Saints, was considering moving his National Premier Soccer League team from Ohio’s Queen City to its Gem City. Scratching the Pitch can confirm that it is more probable than not that Dayton will be the home to an NPSL side in 2016. In fact, Satterwhite revealed in a recent conversation that there is a 95% likelihood that the move will happen. Finalizing one remaining detail would make it a 100% certainty.
The decision to uproot his team cannot be easy for Satterwhite, who for years has poured his heart and finances into making soccer and the Saints a relevant part of the Cincinnati sports scene. Alas, it has been difficult for a semi-professional soccer team to compete for entertainment dollars in a major league town. The arrival of the United Soccer League’s FC Cincinnati, along with its well-known and deep-pocketed ownership group, has drawn the attention of soccer fans and potential sponsors away from the Saints. The proverbial writing is on the wall.
To be clear, though, it would not be the Saints making the move to Dayton. Even if the Saints close up their NPSL shop in Cincinnati, Satterwhite insisted the name and brand belong to that city.
A new brand, complete with name and logo, has already been designed to connect a potential new team to its home in Dayton. If plans for the move come to fruition, the brand will be revealed at future press conference, which Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley has already agreed to attend. Satterwhite did say that the blue, white, and black color scheme donned by his Saints will be preserved because it aligns with the colors of Dayton’s flag.
As WSOTP reported, the plans are to play at Welcome Stadium in 2016 and Chaminade Julienne’s Roger Glass Stadium in 2017 and beyond.
Welcome Stadium might not be the ideal venue with which to attract paying soccer fans. The running track around the field will separate fans from the action on the pitch. An absence of alcohol sales will be a deterrent. Its proximity to downtown Dayton, however, makes it attractive until a transition to Roger Glass Stadium can be achieved.
Roger Glass Stadium has a lot to offer an NPSL side looking to grow a fan base in a new city. Its location on the edge of downtown provides easy access to fans across the Miami Valley. The field has dimensions more than suitable for soccer at this level. The 2,150 available seats are perfect for a team at this level in a new market. What is undeniably important is that the ability to sell alcohol during matches is on the negotiating table.
Whether or not Satterwhite moves his NPSL operations to Dayton, StP must give him credit for doing his due diligence. In addition to making headway with Dayton’s political class, Satterwhite has already begun fruitful discussions with local businesses that could assist with sponsorship and community events. He has engaged the area’s most fervent soccer supporters, AO Dayton and the Oranje Legion, to drum up interest and plant the seeds of creating a proper atmosphere at matches. He has contacted Dayton-area youth clubs, who seem more than willing to support an NPSL team, especially since Satterwhite has no plans of beginning a youth club of his own.
StP has always maintained that Dayton is a viable market for professional soccer if properly executed and marketed. There is no reason why it should not work at the semi-professional level. With that in mind, we welcome Satterwhite and the NPSL to Dayton with open arms. We will be watching and supporting.