The National Soccer Hall of Fame, American soccer’s de facto museum and historical society headquarters, is currently without a home. In 2010, its former location in Oneonta, N.Y., closed due to a lack of funding. Since then, the collected artifacts, memorabilia and assorted American bric-a-brac have been housed in a storage space in North Carolina. Presumably, it looks like the warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Legend has it, a golden sarcophagus contains the tormented spirits of the 1998 World Cup team, where they eternally wail sorrowfully in broken French.
Today, a report in the Washington Post says a group from the Poconos region of eastern Pennsylvania — a reasonably priced ski resort, outdoor haven and family destination area, known to some regionally as “white trash Aspen” (seriously) — has pitched U.S. Soccer design plans for a new facility to house the Hall of Fame. If you are from the northeastern part of this blessed country, you immediately laughed at the idea of soccer and the Poconos coming together. If not, please gaze in wonder upon this early-90s commercial for Mt. Airy Lodge, the crown jewel of the Poconos.
Amazing, isn’t it. I saw this commercial so many times as kid in New Jersey that I still remember the phone number. It’s important to understand that despite being nearly 25 years old, this ad could have been shot this afternoon. Nothing in there has changed.
In defense of the Poconos, it’s a great way for busy urbanites from the the Washington D.C. to New York City corridor to
relax away from the city life get drunk and fail at skiing or snowboarding in the winter, or hike and float down a river in a tube during the summer. It’s a rite of passage to hit up the Poconos and get in touch with nature have your first sexy-time weekend away with your college boo in a champagne glass hot-tub, all at a discount price.
The Poconos is a cheap and cheesy dreamland, and the potential brilliance of American soccer’s awkward cognoscenti descending upon those mountains for a combined ski and soccer weekend is more comedy than my brain can process. Whatever is required for this plan to go through, it needs to happen. Immediately.
The proposed facilities would be on a closed golf course outside of the capital of the Poconos, East Stroudsburg, in Monroe County. Plans include a collection of outdoor fields, indoor practice space, a 5,000-seat stadium and a new hotel with nearby retail space. East Stroudsburg is about a two-hour drive from both New York City and Philadelphia.
There are other bids for a home for the National Soccer Hall of Fame. Ideas have been kicked about recently for sites in Dallas and Los Angeles, but neither of those cities offer the same range of prime rib dinners, log cabin bedrooms with mirrored ceilings and circular beds, and indoor mini-golf like the Poconos. If they’re smart, American soccer fans will band together and encourage Sunil Gulati to push this plan through, for the good of the game.