The news that shook the MLS World dropped Monday night:
Barring new downtown stadium, Columbus Crew set to move to Austin in 2019 https://t.co/LbKXYzRQob— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) October 17, 2017
Columbus Crew owner, Anthony Precourt, said that he was ready to move the team as soon as 2019. With many other teams, maybe this goes by with just a little anger. The Crew, however, are an orginal team founded in 1994 and started play in ‘96. Couple that with the fact that MAPFRE Stadium was the first soccer-specific stadium built for an MLS team, and this news will not go away any time soon.
Team relocation happens in the United States. Minnesota would not have a Major League Baseball team if it was not for relocation. (For those unaware of what I am referring to, the Minnesota Twins were the Washington Senators until 1961. The Senators were re-established and then became the Texas Rangers.) Heck, some of our older generations may still be asking, “How many lakes are there in Los Angeles? Hmmm?”
Anger is probably the right emotion about these types of issues, but for an outsider like me . . . I suggest empathy. These types of issues leave deep cuts. It is possible that some Minnesotans look at the Los Angeles Lakers as their team still, but that move happened before many of us were born.
There is one name, though, that still invokes strong feelings by many Minnesotans . . . Norm @#$#%&# Green.
The Minnesota North Stars were by no means an “original” team in the National Hockey League like Columbus was in MLS, but they were our team. For many Minnesotans that were born in the mid-80s and before, this still brings up visceral emotions. Going to the Xcel Energy Center, one will likely see Green and Gold everywhere. We have the Wild, we love the Wild, but our history is in Dallas.
Full disclosure, I was a toddler when the team moved, but hear me out . . . I grew up listening to stories about the North Stars, seeing North Stars gear without having any understanding as to why they were gone. I was consistently told that (even when I was not living in Minnesota) Minnesota was the “State of Hockey.” In my mind, all I could think was, “Then why don’t I have a team? Why are the North Stars playing in Texas?” I had no actual memories of this team playing the big “N” on their jerseys.
I remember watching Chicago Blackhawks games thinking about how I did not have a professional team to root for. All I knew was that I was not supposed to like Chicago. For me, I had no pull to the sport of hockey because I did not have a team that I felt I could latch on to. I started to support the Wild when they dropped the puck, but I felt that part of my childhood was robbed. I even tried to become a fan of a different NHL team from a different market only to have that team moved as well. (I miss you everyday, Hartford.)
That’s what I worry about when I read about Columbus. Yes, 1994 was not that long ago, but many of the fans that grew up with Brian McBride, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Eddie Gaven, and Frankie Hejduk are now old enough to be raising children. What is going to happen when that child sees that bright yellow kit? Being a fan of one team is not essential to loving a sport, but it certainly helps. Growing up, I didn’t have an MLS team to support either, but there was not the “spectre of a team” like there was with the NHL. For me, becoming a soccer fan was easy, becoming a hockey fan was tougher. I played soccer. I felt betrayed by the NHL
Maybe I was the only one who felt this way, but I worry this concern will go unnoticed in the anger. There are plenty of reasons for a team to relocate, but the scars will remain. There are plenty of reasons for a team to relocate, but none are comprehendable to a child.
Or, maybe . . . I was just overly dramatic growing up . . . .
Editor’s Note: Siems IS a diehard Minnesota Wild fan, and he is certainly over the North Stars moving. That will not and does not stop him from bringing it up every time that the Stars are in town.