There have been rumours swirling for the past month about Newcastle's upcoming summer preseason tour, and the only country linked is the United States. Newcastle's last tour in 2011 was deemed disastrous and too complex. With preseason matches in Columbus, Orlando, Dallas, and Kansas City, the travel was too much for such a short time in the States. The next tour should be more compact, less travel, and have a central base to do the bulk of their training. Because of both logistics and opportunities locally, I think the Toon Tour should be based solely in the Lone Star State.
While my colleagues have been touting their regions of the USA, Texas is its own region. In one state, Newcastle could accomplish any and all of its vacation desires. Want the beach? South to Galveston is your choice. Interested in music and nightlife? Austin is known as the live music capital of the world. Houston has numerous tourist attractions and a soccer-loving population. San Antonio provides the river walk and Alamo for tourist attractions, along with Sea World while getting in a match at the Alamodome.
And Hello ... Dallas!
Most of the Newcastle United players have probably watched the show in the UK as kids and now have an opportunity to go visit some of the locations where that show presided.
The Dallas-Forth Worth Metroplex also features two Newcastle United Toon Armies; Toon Army Dallas and DFW Toon Army.
There are also opportunities to play in numerous locations (Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio) that will pack the house just like an afternoon at SJP in the northeast without ever leaving the state! Texas sports two Major League Soccer teams, FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo, which should provide perfect opponents for preseason friendlies. Both play in soccer specific stadiums and will definitely add a couple matches to their schedule in order to bring a Premiership club to town. In DFW, FC Dallas plays at Toyota Park in Frisco, a beautiful location. In Houston, the Dynamo play at BBVA Compass Stadium, also a terrific venue.
There is a large, diverse fan base that is ready and waiting to embrace a new club. This is a region that Newcastle needs to tap into. Just this week, the San Antonio Alamodome had 64,369 watching USA-Mexico on one of the worst pitches ever conceived by man! This region is loaded with soccer youngsters as the youth and high school programs began in the late 70s and have only grown since then.
Unfortunately, there have not been a lot of big Premiership clubs that have booked Texas on the calendar. Newcastle needs to buck that trend and come visit Texas.
Saved the Best for Last
No other region in the USA can boast having a stadium that in the past 5 years has hosted the NCAA Tournaments, Gold Cup, NCAA Football Championship -- and the Super Bowl! AT&T Stadium, where the Dallas Cowboys play in the fall, is the top sporting venue in the USA, and would a provide a comfortable atmosphere where Newcastle could play in front of 80,000 plus fans! The first sporting event ever played at AT&T Stadium was a soccer match between Chelsea and Club America.
Newcastle could play any of the other European teams in the USA in a preseason friendly there, or also dip into La Liga Mexico, which features numerous teams.
Every positive has its negative
Texas is huge! You could put the UK into the state of Texas THREE TIMES and still have a little land left over. That means travel must be by plane or long bus trips.
In the summer, the temperatures in Texas are pretty brutal. Each region of the state has its own climate challenges. Dallas is just hot. Which is why playing the match at indoor air-conditioned AT&T Stadium makes sense. Houston is hot and humid. To try to put it into perspective, you are sweating 5 minutes after walking out of your door during the summer in Houston. So any match in Houston for comfort will need to be played at Reliant Stadium, which is in itself a terrific venue that hosts the Houston Texans.
San Antonio and Austin are both hot in the summer. Austin does not have a grass-field stadium available to host Newcastle and the expected crowd while San Antonio better improve mightily on its Alamodome preparation after what happened this week.
This link further describes how bad the turf was.
The negatives do not come close to overpowering the positives of this opportunity for the Toon. The time is now for Newcastle United to visit Texas and this state will welcome the Magpies with open arms.