Between #IBELIEVE trending across social media and poolside watch parties in full swing, soccer spirit was infectious and nearly unavoidable this past summer in the United States. Reverberations of this fever continue to draw attention to and interest in the future of American soccer. Certainly in Texas.
The most recent edition to Texas’ collection of large, expensive endeavors is MoneyGram Soccer Park.It replaces an old landfill. The complex sits in Northwest Dallas, and includes nineteen fields. Taxpayers contributed 34 Million dollars to the project.
Its most important function will be to host the elite Dallas Cup tournament. The 36-year old showcase draws youth talent from all over the globe. In fact, the international importance to the Cup’s prestige may have inspired the construction of MoneyGram Park.
According to Dallas Parks Director Willis Winters, “When you have a tournament with teams traveling to your city from around the country or overseas, they’ve got to be guaranteed they can play their games.”
MoneyGram was built to host international stars, not just encourage domestic ones-of which there are fewer. Still, MoneyGram will bring more soccer to the U.S.-they just plan to import it.
This strategy is reflective of a popular stance in the U.S. that seeks to poach talent from abroad. 11 members of the U.S. 2014 World Cup Team are immigrants. David Beckham’s move to Los Angeles helped boost Major League Soccer (MLS) into cultural relevance, and rumors of Cristiano Ronaldo leaving Europe for the U.S. would surely have a similar effect.
Players visiting from abroad will likely provide brilliant entertainment and revenue for Dallas’ MoneyGram. Yet this model for U.S. soccer is not as sustainable as inbred talent. It also leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of purists who envision an national core of players who Americans would more fully see themselves in. However, this plan would take far longer, and Americans have never had much patience for mediocrity. MoneyGram serves as an example for the prevailing approach.