By Gregg Hoffmann Special to Published Jul 23, 2001 at 1:01 AM

Milwaukee loves soccer, but not necessarily enough to turn out in big numbers during a heat advisory on Sunday afternoon.

A group of 200 or so attended a Milwaukee Loves Soccer rally at steamy Pere Marquette Park Sunday to show support for efforts to get a Major League Soccer franchise, and build a 20,000 capacity stadium downtown.

Those numbers had to be disappointing to organizers, but it doesn't mean that there isn't support for the efforts of Tim Krause and his investment group. Milwaukee has a long tradition of club soccer, has the biggest youth soccer organization in North America in the Milwaukee Kickers and has had success at other levels of pro soccer with the Milwaukee Wave and Rampage.

The mayor's office is behind the effort. Gov. Scott McCallum declared Sunday Milwaukee Loves Soccer Day. So, I believe there is adequate support for the effort.

Krause's group also seems to have thought out its proposal. Jeff Remsik, who is handling PR for the group, said Sunday the investors have been working with city officials, the Bradley Center board, Greater Milwaukee Committee and others right along.

That is very important. We have embarrassed ourselves in the past during debates over where the Bradley Center and Miller Park should be located. Let's show some cooperation this time, rather than contentious self-interests.

The Bradley Center board and GMC already came out Sunday in a Journal Sentinel article with negative responses to a site just north of the BC. It turns out the Bradley Center has an option on that land and might want to use it for some expansion.

Remsik said the soccer investors like the site because the stadium could become part of a sports entertainment strip. But, he also emphasized that the group has looked at other sites.

One of those sites is east of the river, along Water Street. It is near an area where some downtown interests wanted Miller Park to be built.

That would have been a mistake because the site is not big enough for a 43,000 capacity baseball park, and would not have been even after the Park Freeway is torn down. But, the site is big enough for a 20,000 capacity soccer stadium.

As Remsik put it, "This (soccer stadium) is a different footprint." It is a much smaller one that would not be cramped in or intrude too far into the surrounding neighborhood.

In fact, the Water Street site seems to this writer like the best spot. You can't blame the Bradley Center board for wanting to make sure that facility does not end up being hemmed in. The Water Street site is far enough away to avoid that, but also close enough that any gaps could be filled with ancillary businesses and attractions to keep a sports entertainment corridor intact along the river.


Every other aspect of the Krause group's proposal seems solid. Remsik and Krause emphasized Sunday that the facility also could be used for college and prep soccer, perhaps even prep football, and could attract national and international soccer competition.

Remsik said the group would like to bring in an Irish team for exhibition matches during Irishfest and a German team during Germanfest. Milwaukee would end up on the international soccer map.

The MLS also plays in the summer, so it would not conflict with the Bucks or Wave at the Bradley Center. Perhaps the Brewers would have some concerns, but soccer is played only once or twice a week, not daily like baseball. The two sports also draw from different segments of the sporting public.

Miller Park traffic would not conflict with downtown traffic. Creative scheduling by the two teams actually could enhance their attractiveness.

So, the Krause group seems to have a good idea. The group goes Thursday to the MLS to apply for a franchise for 2003. Undoubtedly, their plans for a stadium will be dissected locally and discussed extensively.

Let's just make sure we maintain a discourse this time, and not let talks become a contentious debate. Let's not embarrass ourselves again.

In A Different Direction

The Milwaukee Mustangs Arena Football franchise seems to be headed in the opposite direction of soccer. Although the Mustangs' owners, the Vallozzi family, have made no announcement, the coach and players on the team were talking last week as if their game this past weekend was their last in Milwaukee.

Both sides in the soccer effort can learn some things from the Mustangs' experience. The entrenched sports establishment in town did not make the Vallozzis feel very welcome when they first started the Mustangs. The establishment should not be as closed to Krause's group.

The Vallozzis also came across as brash, proposing a downtown alternative to Miller Park and even trying to buy controlling interest in the Brewers at one time. They made enemies of members of the Bradley Center board and others in the local sports scene.

If the Vallozzis do move, or fold, the Mustangs, Arena Football could survive here. League officials have said they would like to put another team in the Milwaukee market. Reports of local buyers for the franchise also have circulated. Expect some kind of announcement in the near future.

Summer League Play

The Bucks Summer League team has struggled, but fans don't really have to sweat it much because only one or two players from that squad have any chance of making the roster.

Michael Redd seems to be helping his chances the most. He has averaged more than 20 points a game despite shooting only 3 of 10 in a loss to the Nets on Saturday.

Of some concern is the fractured left shoulder blade of guard Jason Hart, who was given a chance to compete for the backup point guard spot.

Gregg Hoffmann writes The Milwaukee Sports Buzz column on Mondays and publishes The Brew Crew Review on OMC.

Gregg Hoffmann Special to
Gregg Hoffmann is a veteran journalist, author and publisher of Midwest Diamond Report and Old School Collectibles Web sites. Hoffmann, a retired senior lecturer in journalism at UWM, writes The State Sports Buzz and Beyond Milwaukee on a monthly basis for OMC.