Fighting footy withdrawal

Now that the Premiership season is over and Arsenal is galavanting around Asia, what’s a Bay Area Gooner to do?

Sure, a modicum of time is spent obsessing over real and imagined player transfer targets in the silly season, and moaning about how Arsenal never tour the States in the off-season (What is up with that, Kroenke?). But here are a few ideas to fill the void until August.

There’s a fantastic tournament coming to our fair city. Street Soccer USA is an organization that uses soccer to transform the lives of homeless men and women.

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On the weekend of June 22-23, they’ll stage the West Coast Cup here at Justin Herman Plaza. We’re organizing a Bay Area Gooners squad, so if you can play, stop by the BAG Facebook page and let us know. Our entry fee has been graciously taken care of by the owners of Maggie McGarry’s and an anonymous donor.

MLS is in full swing and our closest available team, the San Jose Earthquakes are battling it out in the Western Conference. The Quakes official affiliation with Tottenham Hotspur FC the Scum, makes it tough for many local Gooners to throw their support behind them.GalaxyHeader

In fact, Danny Coyle’s, the home of SF Spurs, is chartering a bus from the pub to the Quakes v Galaxy match at Stanford Stadium on June 29th. $60 gets you a game ticket, transportation both ways, and all you can drink. $40 for just the bus and the booze (for those with tickets already).  I confess I did one such trip a few seasons ago, and the on-bus banter back and forth between our rivals was good fun.

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Closer to home, some leagues below the MLS, are our own SF Stompers who play at Boxer Stadium in Balboa Park and the Bay Area Breeze who play at Kezar Stadium.

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There’s a fantastic new organization here, the San Francisco Football Supporters Association working hard to drum up support for both clubs. The group and the teams are well worth your attention.

Finally, some of the big teams are visiting San Francisco. On Wednesday, July 31st, Everton FC (EPL) and Juventus FC (Serie A) face off in a friendly at AT&T Park.

Unfortunately, the folks promoting this failed to learn from last year’s Man City v Club America debacle, where they barely got 11,000 supporters in a stadium that holds up to 40,000.

The big obstacle for local footy fans? Once again, promoters have priced tickets absurdly high. They made available a very small amount of $40 tickets, which were snapped up right away, but the rest range $60-$300 apiece, with most averaging $70-80. And that’s before ticketing fees!

Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 7.16.51 AMWe’re not all well-heeled tech millionaires here and if they’re serious about growing the sport in the Bay Area, they need to recognize people’s economic constraints. I went to the Man City v Club America match and the only section that was completely sold out was the upper most deck and that was because those were the most reasonably priced tickets.

They’d do well to emulate the San Jose Earthquakes who play host to Premiership club, Norwich City FC on July 20th. A majority of those tickets are very reasonably price, averaging $30 each.

My other gripe is they often do a piss-poor job of promoting these matches, failing to understand their audience at all. You could say, I’m fairly involved in supporting football in San Francisco, and I haven’t seen a lot of local marketing for these events.

I urge to come out and support your fellow Gooners at the Street Soccer tournament, or go to a Quakes, Stompers or Breeze match. I’ve been to see the Stompers and it’s good fun.

And it will help fill the days until Arsenal’s season begins again.