I had an epiphany during a commute this week.
Things are looking good in Frisco.
Sure, FC Dallas didn’t start this season nor finish the past one in any sense of decent shape. The squad and their initial form has been a mess. Losing to Tauro is only more disappointing in that we could have been watching CCL action this week. If Dallas manages to squeak by with a draw or (gasp) loses at home to Seattle, we can officially light the emergency flares and seek fallout shelters. It won’t be looking good for the season, even if it’s still early days yet.
But quietly, there have been signs that FC Dallas is on its way up.
- Multiple scientifically verifiable sightings have noticed marketing money being spent on the major DFW arteries with big, beautiful billboard ads. This seemed practically unthinkable a few years ago.
- The team invested some serious cash on fresh talent, including a starting (although injured) left back, a quality veteran CB, and a new left winger. Some new homegrowns have been added into the mix too. Clavijo says more signings may be coming too.
- Dallas was agressive in the draft, grabbing intriguing players who may not make an impact this year but have potential to add to overall team depth or be late season boosts.
- The Beer Garden got a huge upgrade with an infusion of youth.
- If you thought Dan Hunt would stop with turkey legs, FC Dallas upped its concession game with a frickin’ Texas BBQ dog among other goodies.
- Texas state corner flags!
But the biggest boost has been the ongoing construction of the new US Soccer Hall of Fame at the south end of Toyota Stadium.
Look, I get that Toyota already has some precious memories in our hearts as fans. I was there when FC Dallas hoisted the US Open Cup in a thrilling destruction of New England. The energy was present in the stadium. The field looked incredible. It’s a magical place.
Toyota Stadium has already and will continue to be a solid soccer experience with hardly a bad seat in the house. The Lamar Hunt statue and its frequent scarfing sets the tone. The march into the match is a blast. The Beer Garden is great fun, even without beer showers. Free swag from Cash America gives you something to distract your kids when they get bored during halftime. Best of all, it’s an affordable experience for just about any budget.
But it can be improved, right?
Like many fans, I was on the fence about the construction of the Hall of Fame. Would this make the venue more interesting? Would it really be worth all of the cash? Why not invest that in marketing or the development of a USL team?
As the season has begun, my heart and opinion has changed. Seeing those south end seats marking out FC Dallas in big bold letters is fun. It adds character to a stadium that can look a little generic. The presence of additional shading will help. The museum alone will make the experience particularly unique for visiting fans who now will have a good excuse to come early and meander around.
Imagine the school class trips that will come out and get doused in the beautiful game.
Imagine all those local youth squads that will get more than just a game of soccer with their ticket but an introduction into a national and international story in which they will have an opportunity to grow up and write future chapters.
Imagine more opportunities to see the legends of the US game milling about before and after matches, making Frisco a truly special place to be if you love soccer.
Maybe the Hall of Fame is what FC Dallas and Toyota Stadium have been missing all along, the centerpiece to the enormous futbol buffet set before Texas.
Instead of being a flexible venue for Toby Keith concerts and high school football games with an optional side of pro soccer, Toyota Stadium through the Hall of Fame marks itself ontologically as a soccer stadium. It removes any doubt or conversation about FC Dallas moving somewhere else in DFW. The flag is planted. Frisco is officially and permanently a soccer town now. It’s time to get on board, get excited, or become a Dynamo fan.
In a time when Columbus fans are working non-stop to prevent their franchise from uprooting from its historic blue collar hometown to a trendy, liberal hotbed of cultural significance in Austin, FC Dallas is reinvesting and committing to the vision of soccer in north Texas. It’s a major investment, and, as the dust begins to settle, it may be the best thing to happen this season after all.
Of course, an MLS Cup trophy would be nice too.