This is the first of a series of bid-style posts meant to convince you (and the club!) that a particular region of the US is the right region for a preseason tour. The main complaint from those around the club following their last trip over for the 2011-12 preseason was that they traveled too far and too frequently. In order to address this, a regional idea seems to make more sense. Today, I will be selling you on the Pacific Northwest as the preferred destination for preseason 2015. Subsequent posts will try to convince you that other regions such as the Midwest or Texas are the regions that should host the club.
Abundant top flight competition and more
If Newcastle United were to come to the Pacific Northwest, they would have three MLS squads within easy travel distance of each other. If they were to base in Seattle, they would have the Portland Timbers a mere 3 hour drive to the south and Vancouver Whitecaps 2 and a half hours to the north. Obviously chartered flights would be even less travel time than that. In addition, the area is rife with lower league competition. In 2011, the club travelled to Orlando City for a match before their MLS days and they have made a habit of scheduling lower league opposition (think Chemnitzer among others). You don't even have to look hard in the Pacific Northwest to find this kind of competition. Without even leaving the greater Seattle area (or at least not leaving by far), you have Sounders 2 (USL), FC Tacoma 253 (NPSL), Kitsap Pumas (PDL), and Puget Sound Gunners FC (PDL). There is also Portland Timbers 2 and Spartans Futbol Club (Vancouver, WA) to the south. If they wanted to diversify in Canada, Calgary Foothills FC is a 1 hour flight from Vancouver.
Summers in the PNW are relatively mild. The average summer temperature in Seattle is in the low 70s. When the temperature tops 80 degrees, all of the clothes come off and people wander around the streets naked because it's so hot.* Oh, but it's Seattle! It rains alllllllll thhhhhheeeee tiiiiiiimmmmmmeeeee. This is untrue on many levels, but staying focused, the average monthly rainfall for July in Seattle is .79 inches. For the month.
*may or may not actually occur. But you want to come and see if it does, don't you?
Great Tourist Destinations For Toon Travellers
What do you want out of your summer trip to America? Mountains? We got 'em. Ocean? We got it. Island life? It's close. Tourist destinations? How about Pike Market, the Space Needle, the Experiencing Music Project Museum (with permanent displays in honor of Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana, among others), the Fremont Troll. For just a small day trip, you can see locations featured in some of your favorite movies. The Goonies? A day trip from Portland. 10 Things I Hate About You? 30 minutes from downtown Seattle if you catch it right. Oh... and the breweries. With 107 active breweries within a 90 minute drive (give or take) you are well positioned to drink ALL the beers. I mean all of them. And that's just Seattle. Portland has the most breweries of any city in the United States. Vancouver has its own thriving craft brewing scene. If you want it, we've got it... in spades!
Why not Seattle?
Plastic pitches. Seattle Sounders play their matches on the notoriously bad plastic of Century Link Stadium. Portland is not much better with the oddly proportioned plastic at Providence Park. If you're into cool older stadiums, though, Providence Park was at one point the municipal baseball stadium in Portland which is sorta neat. BC Place in Vancouver is a plastic pitch. If you're into a grass destination for your preseason trip, this is not your place.
Another possible glitch? Seattle Sounders may not want the match. Granted summer friendlies are a pain in the butt for MLS teams, especially those participating in current editions of the CONCACAF Champions League. Additionally, whereas in years past the league and clubs may have seen a degree of validation in hosting Premier League clubs in general, the Sounders may well feel that they are past the need to play the likes of Newcastle United. If they were to try to bring in a PL foe, there's likely to be a requirement of Sky6 or nothing.
If Seattle were not in play, it would shoot a big hole in a PNW preseason plan, making an Oregon/North California swing make much more sense, but let's play pretend that they are in. If they are, the Pacific Northwest makes a LOT of sense with the density and diversity of teams, destinations for traveling fans and the fan bases that would be accessible in Sounders, Timbers and Whitecaps fans.