Apr. 14, 2016
2016 NPSL Preview: Grand Rapids FC
The 2016 NPSL previews continues with the expansion franchises as the season is rolling out...
Today's stop is Grand Rapids and checking in on life with Grand Rapids FC...
Founder Matt Roberts steps up to answer our questions...
How did the idea come about?
We were sitting at SpeakEZ Lounge watching EPL matches in January of 2014 and a few of the people there kept saying we should have a team here in Grand Rapids. There have been a few attempts at it here in West Michigan but for several reasons they didn't survive. I got together with a few people on a Facebook page and asked if there was interest in getting a team going and the public made it very clear that it was wanted and needed. We launched a crowd-funding campaign in March of 2014 to raise the capital to start the team and the rest is history.
What's it been like to give birth to this?
It's been an incredible ride. We have worked very hard to put a professional team on the field and a great backroom staff in place so our fans enjoy their team. We continue to strive to push our team forward and give West Michigan something they can be proud of. We have put a lot of hours in behind the scenes but it has been worth it to provide our community a team.
What's the response from the community been like...?
We had a fantastic first year in the Great Lakes Premier League in 2015. The community really got behind the team and the attendance grew every match. We were in awe of how many people continued to show up each week to support us. I couldn't stop smiling when we had over 2,400 people at our first match in the rain. We ended up averaging 4,500 spectators per game with a high at our last match of 6,651 last year and we want to see those number improve this year.
How is success measured this year?
Winning. We were very proud of what we did last year in terms of on-field success and attendance but we wanted to improve the product we put out every week. We were competitive in every match last year but ultimately our goal is to win the NPSL Midwest and eventually the NPSL Championship. It will be a very hard goal to reach but one we think we can achieve. We put a plan in place to improve the squad and I think we have done well in that respect, now we have to put it all together on the field.
Some of the names folks need to pay attention to...?
We have some names that were very popular last year including leading goal scorers Domenic Barone and Noble Sullivan. Our captain Tony Deakin is back and we have signed ex-MLS Defender Steve Herdsman. Our midfield got much better with the addition of Greg Timmer as well.
What's the grand plan over time...? NPSL and beyond...?
At this point our goal is to focus on winning as many games as we can in 2016 but we have had internal discussions about the next step. Any change of course is a few years away but we have started to research what it would take and will have more discussions with investors if we ever make the decision to change leagues.
We are very excited to join the NPSL and continue to build our brand with very successful teams like Detroit City FC and Lansing United. The Midwest has some very serious competition and we hope we can step right in and compete from day one.
Thanks to Matt for previewing the season! The HQ will be watching!
Follow GRFC here:
Facebook - facebook.com/grandrapidsfc
Twitter - @grandrapidsfc