Are you ready for some NCAA D1-A Marquette  football?
Are you ready for some NCAA D1-A Marquette football?

Milwaukee getting NFL franchise, Marquette starting NCAA D1-A football program

What if this came across your Facebook, Twitter, OnMilwaukee.com or ESPN.com newsfeed that you regularly monitor, and it wasn't April 1?

You can't tell me that a real headline stating those two ideas as being fact wouldn't be amazing and controversial for both Milwaukee and sports in general, but are they probable or possible?

Milwaukee, a sports market that is constantly mentioned as being the smallest market in major sports after Green Bay is taken out of the equation, is undoubtedly Packers territory just like the rest of Wisconsin. However, there are far more Packers haters in Wisconsin than anybody seemingly would like to admit.

Let me now immediately state that I am a die-hard Packers fan and have always been one. I've made several pilgrimages to Lambeau and I enjoyed my first game in Green Bay with my father several years ago in a rare father-son moment since I've become an adult. I am 3-0 in the regular season, 0-1 in the post-season – yes, I was at that Packers-Falcons playoff catastrophe – and 1-0 in the pre-season, of which I will detail in a post next week because some truly amazing things happened during that trip.

You hear sports writers and fans of football talk about the "Legends of Lambeau" and the history of arguably the most storied franchise in the history of the sport next to the New York Yankees. You hear fans of the Green and Gold argue with Cowboys fans over who is really America's team. What I think you hear is a lot of propaganda, and questioning the conditioning of a Wisconsinite to love the Green Bay Packers is sacrilege.

Now, don't get angry at me using the word "propaganda." Remember, they are a business first and foremost and will always seek to indoctrinate anyone and everyone they can with a desire to need their product. That's just business. That's the goal of marketing and advertising.

But, not every Wisconsinite is a Packers fan and maybe every person that chooses to wear a foam wedge of cheese on their head should not be expected to be a lover of the "Frozen Tundra" as well.

Having a second team in Wisconsin doesn't have to be about loving or hating the Packers. It can simply be about giving the state of Wisconsin more quality football, something that it has proven it can't have enough of.

There is absolutely no reason that Milwaukee couldn't host a well-loved AFC team.

Consider this.

Right now there are several teams in the NFL that are hurting and two of them happen to be in the AFC and have found themselves mentioned as teams that could be moved to Los Angeles in the future. These are all scenarios right now, but among the teams mentioned in regards to moving are the Buffalo Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Buffalo is of course a storied franchise with Super Bowl appearances and legendary Hall Of Fame players, but as Buffalo's economy and the quality of the team have declined, so have ticket sales and game attendance. The Bills have been dinking and dunking in and out of Toronto over the last few years at the request of the NFL's commissioner and look to be a franchise marked for a move to Toronto or elsewhere.

Jacksonville is a franchise that finds itself lost in the mix of Florida's overwhelming professional sports culture. The Miami Dolphins own the fan's love in regards to the AFC, and when they aren't cheering for Miami they are cheering for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC. Slow and low ticket sales show that hardly anybody is cheering for the Jaguars in the state of Florida.

Each team of course has a rub that goes along with it.

Buffalo does have a legion of diehard fans and they've been a team that at times has shown scrappy toughness. The anger and aggression that would accompany the moving of the Bills would be similar to that of the original Browns leaving Cleveland to go to Baltimore as the Ravens. Why start a franchise in that fashion? I wouldn't. As a kid that grew up in and around a city with an industrial history, I hope that the Bills stay in Buffalo and have a resurgence in the near future.

The rub with the Jaguars is that the owner seems to be dedicated to the city of Jacksonville, even if the fans aren't dedicated to the team. However, that rub aside, I feel that the Jaguars would be the best team to move north even if they are part of the AFC South.

The AFC South consists of the Baltimore Indianapolis Colts, the Tennessee Titans (which are the old Houston Oilers), and the new Houston Oilers Texans. When you toss the expansion Jags in there the history of the conference is about as solid as sand, as every team is a team that has moved to a new city or was part of a more recent expansion.

Sending a little-loved Florida team up north wouldn't be any crazier than the history of the teams in the AFC South as it is and geographically it really isn't that bad either.

Milwaukee, Nashville and Houston are all Central time zone cities, with Indianapolis being in the Eastern time zone. A flight from Milwaukee to Houston is only about two hours sky-time, with Naptown being about 30 minutes away and Nashville being about an hour away by plane.

At this point, I only imagine the some of you reading this have veins bulging out of your necks because the Packers are your team and your only team and the only team that could ever live, breathe and fight in Wisconsin.

I'm sure that Bears fans feel the same way, but not all Chicagoland residents love "Da Bears."

Now, I don't have a few million bucks on hand to do a legitimate and wide sweeping survey of the I-94 corridor between Milwaukee and Chicago, but for fun I'd like to believe that there would be enough people who don't care for the Bears or the Packers to fill a 50,000+ person stadium in Milwaukee every Sunday.

I think there'd be enough interested lookie-loos that want an NFL experience and don't want to deal with Chicago's prices and traffic and Green Bay's inflated second-hand ticket prices.

I think Miller-Coors (even though they're HQ'ed in the Chicago area) and Harley Davidson, and maybe Northwestern Mutual or some other of Milwaukee's Fortune 500 companies would love the chance to get more name recognition on a national level.

I'm betting there are enough level-headed people in Wisconsin that could love both teams, even if the Packers would be their favorite when a Milwaukee/Green Bay match up took place. They'd still spend their money for a quality product, I believe.

The NFL would have to help though.

Scheduling would have to see the historic franchise and the startup franchise play the majority of their games at different times, as often as possible. Yes, I acknowledge the weight of the Packers in the state of Wisconsin. This is one of those hurdles, one of many, in my made-up land of fantasy football.

An interested millionaire/billionaire or investment group would have to come forward with an awesome plan for a franchise.

In my fantasy land we will say that Mark Cuban, despondent from Major League Baseball's continual blocking of his attempts to purchase a club, changes his mind and shifts his focus to owning a NFL franchise.

In my fantasy land, Milwaukee city government would approve of the franchise moving in and would find a nice place for them in one of the many nice deserted warehouse/industry districts around the city.

Could you imagine if a stadium had been put where the old Pabst Brewery is with tons of parking where the Park East freeway was torn down for the Harley-Davidson museum that never got put there? You could even have a nice shuttle system that could take people up the hill to the stadium if they so choose. If you are able to envision it, it really is a beautiful sight, provided there is enough room for a 50,000+ stadium up there of course. Let's just pretend there is.

If I could paint, I'd paint that picture and put it up on my wall and I'd find a little bit of peace in it whenever I looked at it because that's the stuff that dreams are made of.

The dream for me doesn't stop there.

I also dream about Marquette University once again having a college football team.

As it stands right now, the Big East Conference has an automatic bid to a major bowl game and the Big East Conference isn't exactly a power conference when it comes to the pigskin. If a college was going to start a football program and go through the growing pains of establishment, there might not be a better conference to do it in than the Big East.

A decent crop of recruits and a good scheme set up by talented coaches could easily see a new team rise to the tops of the Big East, and thus a big bowl game which yields a big check even if you lose.

Of course, Marquette would have to be willing to pony up the money to do so *cough-all those insanely rich Marquette boosters that would love to see football at Marquette-cough* and the conference would have to be game for the idea.

Oh yeah, they'd need a place to play and the Big East would probably want another team in the football conference to make it an even 10 instead of 9.

Well, this is where that wonderful football idea of mine comes into play.

Marquette probably wouldn't need an NFL team in Milwaukee to ever establish a football team – which I admit is a 1:1,000,000,000 chance for either to happen (so you're saying there's a chance!) – but if Milwaukee did have a football stadium, the owner of said NFL team could charge Marquette a fair price to use the facilities so MU would ultimately save money on not having to come out of pocket to build a stadium. Boosters could cough up less dough if this route magically appeared out of thin air, but again, if the drive to get Marquette some college football was large enough the big spenders – those wonderful and fruitful alums – would pony up to make it happen.

If it went down the way I have it going down in Fantasy Land, the stadium would be a pro/college hybrid stadium and it'd be active for roughly 14+ games a year, thus bringing in more money for those who worked at the stadium and for the businesses around them or affiliated with them.

Having a college football team and a pro football team playing in downtown Milwaukee could provide economic the kind of economic stimulus Milwaukee so desperately needs. What kind is that? Jobs.

Of course, some would be year-round while most would be seasonal but the construction jobs would be a boost and any job is a good job right now, whether it's seasonal or not.

Old World 3rd Street would become even more popular than Water Street on some nights potentially, and who knows, maybe a downtown stadium could be the catalyst to the revival of Grand Avenue! Hey, it's my Fantasy Land.

This dream is getting bigger and bigger.

As for the 10th team? Villanova. They have a team that has finished 9-5, 14-1, 10-3 from 2010 to 2008 with a championship in 2009. Maybe they are ready for the leap up from the D1-AA Colonial Athletic Association to the D1-A Big East, of which they are a part of for their main sport, basketball.

The other issue is that Marquette would have to find another woman's athletic program to offer so that everything is fair and balanced, but honestly is that such a big deal? Marquette doesn't have a women's softball team and that would be a nice addition to the sports culture Marquette has currently.

Now, I know, many of you are probably saying "but Wisconsin is a Madison state when it comes to college football."

Again, you might be surprised to read this, but there are a lot of people in Wisconsin – specifically in the Milwaukee area – that aren't too fond of Bucky and it extends beyond basketball season. I personally know several people that will root for Marquette, Milwaukee and UW-Green Bay (in that order) and will only wish Madison well during tournament time in regards to basketball and they hate that Milwaukee – be it Marquette or UW-Milwaukee – doesn't have a college team to cheer for. And no, not all of them are Marquette graduates. Actually, only one of them attended and is a graduate of Marquette. The others are just proud Milwaukeeans (Milwaukee County residents included in the term "Milwaukeeans").

At the end of the day, I realize that these are purely boyhood dreams from the days that I'd create a Milwaukee franchise on the latest edition of Madden football for PlayStation 2. I know that Milwaukee is a small market. I love the Packers. I love/like/tolerate/acknowledge the Badgers during college football season.

However, you have to admit, either of those things happening would really shift the culture of sport in Milwaukee and Wisconsin and I would argue that it'd shift it for the better.

Agree? Disagree? Want to applaud me? Want to see me burned at the stake in front of the Lambeau Field Atrium while roasting some brats over the fire? Let me know.

Have fun.

Talkbacks

sandstorm | Sept. 12, 2011 at 8:44 a.m. (report)

"but I would drop the bears..."

big fan are ya?
and now i see why you were running down the Badgers on another board.
so transparent...

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NicoleSimpson | Sept. 12, 2011 at 6:00 a.m. (report)

Longest, Dumbest thing I've ever read. Desperately seeking anyone to read it with FAKE HEADLINES.... absolutely sad.

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EastSideMKE | Sept. 11, 2011 at 6:48 p.m. (report)

This article is beyond ridiculous. First of all, the entire premise is flawed. Greater Milwaukee is not the smallest market in pro sports. Buffalo, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Jacksonville, Nashville, and Salt Lake City are all smaller than Milwaukee. Then you go on to say that Northwestern Mutual and Harley-Davidson would love the chance to have naming rights. Really? Then why haven't any of them stepped up to the plate to either renovate or replace the Bradley Center? Milwaukee doesn't even support its NBA team, the last thing we need to do is get another NFL team. If people don't like the Packers, then cheer for the Bears; Milwaukee is actually closer to Chicago than it is to Green Bay. If we were to add any sports teams to this state I would hope for an NHL or MLS team to round us out. Possibly even locate a team in Madison.

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Church42 | Sept. 10, 2011 at 6:18 p.m. (report)

Fantasy land indeed.

I didn't even see where you mention who pays for said stadium. The debt on Miller Park hasn't even been retired, so unless you the owner ponies up for it, don't hold your breath the taxpayers will.

Then you say a 50,000+ stadium? Unless that's a really big plus, the NFL won't want a team to play in a 50k stadium (Soldier is already the smallest and they're at 61.5k). No sponsor wants to be part of a small stadium with a questionable/divided loyalty so don't think Miller, Harley, or NWM will get into that boondoggle.

Next, it's impossible with the schedule because fans will miss a good portion of the Packer game (assuming it's a noon start) just to get to the game.

Last, I don't think there is the support...those that like football have a favorite NFL team, regardless if it is or isn't the Bears or Packers.

So, nice fantasy, but a fantasy that I think would be less successful than you think.

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beastmh | Sept. 9, 2011 at 5:21 p.m. (report)

34332 I agree but you are dreaming however and you said it yourself. Those empty warehouses and vacant lots used to be filled with everyday workers with extra income who were proud to support the team that represented their city. Any potential owner would look at the demographics and the lack of new technologic advanced companies propping up, and say no way. As for Marquette I like the idea but they already tried and dropped the football program, plus your right Villanova already has an established FCS (1-AA) powerhouse football team and could easily make the transition to the FBS ala UConn.

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