What Makes Milwaukee A Soccer Town: An Interview With Pat Finn of the Milwaukee Barons
Welcome again to the Pyramid faithful readers. Got a really neat interview to share with you all this week, a special Christmas release. Thanks to everyone who voted on Twitter as to which interview would be released. This was far and away the winner of the poll.
The Milwaukee Barons are a group of soccer fans in, well, Milwaukee, looking to show there is enough support in town for a pro soccer team, whether that's USL, NASL, or something else. Pat Finn is their leader, and he graciously took the time to talk with the Pyramid about the city, and soccer's history there. Check it out, and have a Merry Christmas!
American Pyramid: Tell me a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you're from, what your role is with the Milwaukee Barons.
Pat Finn: I’m originally from England, I lived in Southern California in my early 20’s went back to the UK and came back to Milwaukee two years ago. I tend to focus on the Business Development, working on projects to increase awareness and partner with local businesses for mutual gain
What exactly do the Barons do to help bring soccer to Milwaukee?
Our aim is to unify all the soccer fans that want to spend their Saturday nights singing, dancing and shouting at men in shorts. We have different working committees who focus on different things, one group works on getting season ticket pledges, one on merchandise to sell that raises funds to buy stuff and one group works on attracting investors who are willing to help fund a team.
When did you first get interested in soccer in general and helping launch a soccer team in particular? Was there a certain event that got you into the sport, or have you always been into soccer?
Being born in England I have always been a soccer fan, once I stopped playing I became a season ticket holder at my local club Hull City. When I moved here two years ago it was one of the main things I missed, the whole matchday atmosphere So I went about finding a group of likeminded individuals who were willing to help promote Milwaukee asa great place for an NASL team.
This might be a little bit of tricky question. Can you explain the history of soccer in Milwaukee to me? Just a recap as to why there isn't soccer there now and it's been something of a struggle to get another team going.
It is a complicated history, we had an outdoor team called the Rampage who used to play in the old USL A-League, they actually won the title in their last year (2002) however the folded not long after. There was talk of an MLS team around 2005-2006 with a project headed by Peter Wilt for one reason or another that didn’t work out. It was a different time back then and a relatively new sport. The Millennials coming through now that have the disposable income to spend watching sport really identify with soccer as a lot have played from a young early age and it is not seen as a foreign sport to them. The huge amount of coverage that it gets on TV now also, not just the Premier League on NBC but the Bundesliga and Serie A . I think they see the passion of the fans in the stands at those games and think I want some of that.
Miller Park has held two very successful games involving Premier League and Mexican teams so people will definitely come out to watch live soccer.
Do you guys support any of the local amateur teams, like Milwaukee Bavarians of the Milwaukee Torrent?
We are supporters of all soccer in Milwaukee, we have mobilized our group to attend amateur and college games and will do what we can to assist when the Torrent start playing. We really want to see an NASL team though and will keep campaigning for that.
This a question that's been on my mind a lot lately. What is about soccer that seems to draw people together like it does? It's very much a community sport, and teams are often really tied into their community, more so then other types of sports teams seem to be.
I think it could be because it’s a very simple game. You need very little equipment to play and all ages and abilities can play so people are able to identify with the players easier because they have been in their shoes.
Is there any league in particular that you guys are looking into potentially joining once the time comes to get a team, like the NPSL or Great Lakes Premier League, or are you thinking higher level than that?
We are aiming for NASL, we would probably settle for USL but NASL is our goal and who knows maybe in a few years push for MLS. However NASL seems to be a really exciting league right now with a great strategy amd increasing TV coverage.
Are you guys making any headway in securing a team for your city?
We have had over 800 people pledge to buy a season ticket if we get one and that is going up every week, More and more businesses are wanting partner with us. A local Brewing company Brenner Brewing has just created a beer for us Milwaukee Barons Pilsner. We also have a couple of minor investors but we need the big money to come forward or more minor ones!
What do you think about the idea of supporter owned teams? Seems like that's what a lot places are doing now.
I think it is a good thing if they own a percentage and have a seat at the table when decisions are made
Why should the average soccer fan care about a team in Milwaukee?
Once you have been to watch your favorite team live and that team has taken you on that emotional roller coaster they’ll see why. It’s addictive.
Cast a vision for me: Where do you see the Milwaukee Barons in 5 years?
Flying high in the NASL with our own soccer specific stadium
Bonus Questions: Who's your pick to win the MLS Cup this year?
Portland Timbers (because of the great TIFO show the fans put on)((This interview was done before MLS Cup. Congrats Portland. Again))
What's your favorite book, regardless of genre?
Any autobiography by a sportsperson
Who's your favorite current soccer player?
Don’t have one, used to love watching Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne play though
Do you have a favorite soccer book, movie or podcast?
Not sure if it’s a favorite but just watched the BBC documentary on Youtube recently Class of '92: Out of Their League. It’s about 5 of Man United’s Class of ‘92 who have bought a non-league (amateur) club and all that is involved in running it.
What's your favorite league and/or team to watch?
Hull City in The Championship, it’s better then Hull City in the Premier League as we got beat most weeks.
Where can people find out more about the Barons?
Find us here:
What would you like to say to the people reading this article about why they should get behind the lower levels of American soccer in general, and Milwaukee Barons in particular?
It’s not all about the glamor of the Premier League or MLS. Soccer is about sharing a common interest and having fun with your family and friends. It’s nice to have your team doing well but it must get boring if you win every week.
I watched my team Hull City go from the very bottom of the four leagues in England all the way to the Premier League. Yes it took 30 years and we went up and down the other divisions first but it was a great journey. You have just got to keep believing in them. We also qualified for the FA Cup final last year for the first time in our 111 year history. A club is for life not until they star losing.
Pat, thanks for taking some time to do this, I really appreciate it. Thanks again for reading American Pyramid folks. As always, give us a 'Follow' on Twitter or a 'Like' on Facebook. Heck, do both! It's the quickest, easiest way to stay updated. Handy links are also handily located in the upper right hand corner of the website for 'Liking' and 'Following.' Merry Christmas and, as always, Stay Loyal, Support Local.