RIP: United FC Binghamton

MLS has begun play for the 2014 season and leagues across the country are preparing to follow suit. Unfortunately, this is also the time of year that those of us who follow the lesser known leagues find out which teams have entered graveyard of American minor league sports. 

United FC Binghamton played two seasons in the WPSL from 2012-2013. They were operated by United FC, a youth soccer club local to Binghamton, NY. United was sponsored by T&M Excavating, which allowed the club to offer free admission t all fans for both seasons. At this time United FC is not listed on the WPSL website, and though there have been no official press releases regarding the operations of the club, it seems safe to assume that they will not be returning for the 2014 campaign.

This is an unfortunate development for the Binghamton soccer community, especially as this was the only elite women’s club in the Southern Tier.

RIP United FC.

United FC Binghamton WPSL Schedule Set

United FC Binghamton will return this summer for a second season of play in the WPSL. Last season United finished with a 3-4-3 record which was enough to garner 3rd out 5 teams in the Mid-Atlantic table.

Due to a significant conference realignment in the off season United FC,  Syracuse Lady Knights, and FC Westchester (name changed from FCW Elite)  are the only holdovers from last years conference while NYAC moved to the Tri State conference and Millburn Magic and FCW Elite seem to have suspended operations for the season. Joining Binghamton and Syracuse will be a pair of new upstate clubs Empire Revs WNY (Buffalo), Tri-City Celtics (Albany) as well as Yankee Lady FC.

SCHEDULE:

  • May 29, 6:00 PM – United FC Binghamton vs. Tri-City Celtics @ Greater Binghamton Sports Complex
  • June 01, 3:00 PM – United FC Binghamton vs. Empire Revs WNY@ Greater Binghamton Sports Complex
  • June 08, 3:00 PM – United FC Binghamton vs. FC Westchester @ Greater Binghamton Sports Complex
  • June 12, 6:00 PM – Tri-City Celtics vs. United FC Binghamton @ Plumeri Sports Complex
  • June 15, 12:00 PM – Empire Revs WNY vs. United FC Binghamton @ Zaepfel Field
  • June 22, 3:00 PM – United FC Binghamton vs. Syracuse Lady Knights @ Greater Binghamton Sports Complex
  • June 29, 5:00 PM – FC Westchester vs. United FC Binghamton @ White Plains HS
  • June 30, 2:00 PM – United FC Binghamton vs. Yankee Lady FC @ Greater Binghamton Sports Complex
  • July 03, 7:00 PM – Syracuse Lady Knights vs. United FC Binghamton @ Liverpool HS, Liverpool, NY
  • July 06, 2:00 PM – Yankee Lady FC vs. United FC Binghamton @ St Joseph HS, Trumbull, CT

Once again, all United FC Binghamton matches will be free to attend thanks to title sponsor T&M Excavating.

The Stadium Issue – Revisited

In my last post, I discussed the facility expansion plans for the Greater Binghamton Sports Complex which acts as the home field for Greater Binghamton FC.  This is an overall positive development for the club, but with that in mind I would like to discuss the issue of ‘venue’ as it pertains to GBFC and other local clubs around the country.  

I believe that a good venue in the right location can go along way to promoting fan attendance.  I think this is something that MLS (and other upper level clubs) have finally figured out and are starting to implement (see Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders, San Antonio Scorpions).  I even see this working out at the NPSL level with clubs like Detroit City FC and Chattanooga FC.

This evidence, along with the obvious population concentrations in the Greater Binghamton area would suggest that an ideal venue for any team seeking to draw significant attendance should be located in or around downtown Binghamton or along the ‘Vestal Parkway’ corridor between downtown and Binghamton University.  Within this geographic area, there are at least 3 venues which would meet the NPSL stadia criterion – NYSEG Stadium downtown, the Bearcats Sports Complex at Binghamton University, and Alumni Stadium on the East Side of Binghamton.

NYSEG Stadium presents a great location in dowtown Binghamton and boasts a true ‘stadium’ atmosphere.  It is walking distance to a number of quality bars and restaurants and would provide a great game day march into the stadium.  The downsides are that stadium capacity would likely dwarf most NPSL crowds, rent is high, and the stadium was constructed primarily for baseball.

Alumni Stadium is the home field of the Binghamton High School Patriots and is part of the East Middle School campus.  While not downtown, Alumni Stadium provides easy highway access as well as walking access to a number of East Side pubs.  Rent at Alumni is very reasonable considering the facilities that are available, and is a nicer facility than many clubs could boast.  The biggest downside is the football lines.  But at this level, I think that can be accepted.  Another point of interest here is that United FC Binghamton of the WPSL played several matches of the 2012 campaign here AND offered free admission to all fans!  At the very least, I would like to see a pre-season friendly played here if for no other reason than to try it out.

Bearcats Sports Complex is perhaps the best overall fit for a fledgling club like GBFC.  The complex offers a brand new pitch, as well as intimate stadium seating for 2,500 with ample game day parking across the campus.  Again, I think this warrants at least a pre-season friendly to determine viability.  

As exciting as it is to have a ‘stadium’ at the GBFC complex on Airport Road, I don’t see the club drawing the same crowds as if they strategically located in the heart of the community.  Call me a idealist with romantic notions, the proof will be in the upcoming season.  Of course, venue alone won’t make or break a clubs draw at the gate – good marketing/PR, a professional product, and community/fan engagement will also make or break a clubs attendance.

United FC Weekend Round Up

United FC played two matches this weekend with split results.  Friday they traveled south for an inter-conference visit to the Buxmont Torch and were handed a surprising 3-1 defeat by the hosts, who until Friday had only won a single game.  

Returning home to the Greater Binghamton Sports Complex, United (10 points) recorded a 2-0 shutout win over the Millburn Magic (9 points) to leapfrog the visitors into 3rd place in the Northeast Atlantic Mid conference.  New York Athletic Club holds the 2nd slot with 14 points, Syracuse Lady Knights lead the conference with 17 points and FCW Elite are a distant 5th with only 1 point.

If you haven’t attended a match yet, I would encourage you to go!  Tickets are free!

Weekend Roundup

It was a historic weekend as both Greater Binghamton FC (NPSL) and United FC Binghamton (WPSL) recorded their first franchise wins.  United FC defeated conference opponent FCW Elite 2-1 at home on Saturday afternoon and GBFC followed up with an evening 2-0 defeat of A.F.C. Cleveland.  GBFC returned to action on Sunday away at FC Buffalo, where they endured an embarrassing defensive lapse that allowed the hosts to salvage the point with a 1-1 draw.

Both teams have demonstrated they are capable of competing in their respective leagues and now must seek consistency over the remainder of the season to make a push for the playoffs. 

Football Around the Parlor City

For the first time in history, Binghamton will play host to teams in the NPSL and WPSL for the summer of 2012.  Both leagues offer a relatively high level of amateur soccer including clubs all across the country.  The Greater Binghamton Sports Complex will play host to both clubs – Greater Binghamton FC (NPSL) operated by the Greater Binghamton Soccer Association and United FC Binghamton (WPSL) operated by the United FC.

It has long been a dream of mine to bring a club to Binghamton, and I am proud to be able to say that though my dream didn’t unfold as I had planned, and though things didn’t work out for me to be involved with the team, I planted the seed that brought an NPSL club to the Parlor City.

I am somewhat disappointed by the lack of buzz being generated by the new club, but I don’t expect that too change unless members of the front office begin actively promoting the club.  Having a club is not enough; and with the home field located well outside of the urban center, I fear that community support will be thin.  I understand that budgets are limited; budgets are always limited.  But a small budget is no excuse not to leverage the power of volunteer efforts!  If it weren’t for volunteers believing in the future of their club, storied teams like Manchester, Newcastle, and Celtic wouldn’t exist.  

So, you tell me – how well supported are the local clubs in your community?  And what will it take to grow community support for smaller clubs?