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Twenty years ago: Sting show pro soccer can thrive in S.L.

Published: Saturday, July 24 2010 8:38 p.m. MDT

A crowd of 9,439 showed up this week for the Salt Lake Sting-San Diego Nomad Western Soccer League game at Derks Field, the Sting's final regular-season home game.

Starting with the nearly 10,000 who saw the Sting's opening home game in April and finishing with the finale's fireworks-night crowd, attendance for the summer's 13 home games averaged close to 5,400 a game. Since the owners of the new franchise hoped to average 2,500 for their first season, it seems safe to presume the Sting will not join their Salt Lake City pro predecessors, the Golden Spikers of the 1970s, as one-year wonders.

Whereas professional rodeo, volleyball, track and field and football, to name several, have failed to make it in Salt Lake City, professional soccer is making a case that this isn't just a basketball, baseball and hockey town anymore, and that there may be room for a sport where it's illegal to touch the ball with your hands.

This has not been lost on the Sting's board of governors, most of whom also own the Salt Lake Trappers' rookie league baseball franchise.

"To be honest with you, when (Trappers' co-owner Jack) Donovan called, I wasn't too thrilled about the venture," said Sting assistant general manager Dave Baggott. "I couldn't have cared less about soccer. I always hated it. Now, I feel differently."

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