The shift to the home of Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls, at least for a day, was a highlight for a franchise that has had few bright moments over the past two years.
But the match at Red Bull Arena shows that fans are willing to support Sky Blue, they just need a reason to come back for more.
Over the past two years, Sky Blue has been a poorly run operation. Recall the comments of former Sky Blue striker Sam Kerr. Following a July 2018 match when she scored a hat trick against her former team, the now Chicago Red Stars star made some pointed remarks about Sky Blue.
“I wish things were better here and that I could stay,” she said. “I feel sad. I’m just going to say the girls deserve better and I’m just going to leave it at that. They give everything of themselves for this club and this league and they just deserve better.”
Issues ranging from poor training facilities to housing problems and other topics were discussed as needing improvement and much of the blame, whether fair or not, was pointed at former president and general manager Tony Novo, who resigned earlier this year.
Outwardly, it appears as if there has been some improvement with Sky Blue. Following the 2018 season when the team won only once, the Blues this season have tripled that win total (along with four draws) and have been competitive in nearly every match. In addition to Carli Lloyd, the team has some wonderful young talent in Imani Dorsey, Raquel Rodriguez and Paige Monaghan among others.
Now it’s time for ownership to step up, or put up the For Sale sign. According to the team’s website, its ownership group includes Steve Temares, former CEO of Bed Bath & Beyond; New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy; and Thomas Hofstetter, managing partner of Points Group, a consulting and marketing agency.
None of these owners are lacking the funding needed to invest in a team that has much in the way of growth potential.
Thanks to the national team and its penchant for winning World Cups, the women’s game in the U.S. continues to grow. What Sky Blue needs is some TLC and owners focused on making the necessary investments that will pave the way for the future.
Being the only women’s professional team in the New York Metropolitan area, Sky Blue has a large potential customer base. On any given weekend there are tens of thousands of youth soccer players on pitches across Long Island, New York City, Southern Connecticut and up and down New Jersey. These youth players and their families offer untapped potential to put fans in the seats on a regular basis.
For many outside of New Jersey, making the trek to Yurcak Field or Red Bull Arena is not easy. But with the right enticements, they will come.
Here’s hoping Sky Blue’s owners saw the connection between its players and fans at Red Bull Arena. And here’s hoping they will now do what is right for the future of the franchise.