If you are a fan of Memphis sports, you might consider this time of year the dog days of summer. Football is still a few weeks away, and most of the basketball action revolves around trade rumors and recruiting gossip. The Memphis Redbirds are holding down the fort as the only show in town right now, as they trounce their way through the PCL for yet another playoff birth.
Starting in the spring of 2019, there will be a new team entering the Memphis sports scene. If you have not already heard, there will be a United Soccer League (USL) expansion team that will begin play next season right here in our own backyard.
With the exciting addition of this professional soccer team to the city of Memphis, we wanted to take some time to let you know how you can get involved in supporting this new member of the Memphis sports family. We sit down (via email) with one of the Co-Leaders of the Bluff City Mafia, the official supporters group of the USL expansion team, to find out more about this new venture.
What made you decide to start the Bluff City Mafia and how did you settle on the name?
The decision to start Bluff City Mafia was pretty easy. We are a group of rabid soccer fans that wanted to support our USL team here in Memphis. A supporters group allows fans to support a team by more than just attending a game or wearing apparel. It allows supporters to stand, drum, wave flags, sing, and play with smoke grenades. Its an experience we wanted to bring to everyone in Memphis. The name is homage to the city. Obviously “Bluff City” is becoming a brand in itself and mafia was a nod to Elvis Presley’s “Memphis Mafia” and come on Mafia just sounds cool.
Oh hey @USLMemphis….
We’re here. pic.twitter.com/Aj7L4ZChtY
— Bluff City Mafia (@BluffCityMafia) August 17, 2018
What was the process of forming the supporters group like?
It has been a fun few months. We started talking about forming the supporters group once the official announcement was made about the USL team. However, we still have quite a bit to plan before the start of the USL season.
How big of an impact do you see this USL team making on the sport of soccer and also the city of Memphis as a whole?
I think the impact of professional soccer in Memphis will be massive. It no secret Memphis is a proud and passionate city and the addition of another professional team in Memphis for people to claim as their own and support just strengthens that. USL Memphis should also be great for the growth of the game in the city. Memphis is a basketball first market but I believe if the team and players come in and embrace this city, the city will embrace them.
Do you think that AutoZone Park be a good place to play/watch soccer matches?
A lot of teams in the USL play in baseball stadiums and it seems to work. AutoZone park is a world class facility and if the front office gets it right then it should be a great stadium to watch soccer matches.
The team is planning on releasing their new name and logo on September 1st, 901 day. Any insight into what the team name will be?
It’s probably best that I plead the fifth here.
On that same 901 day, Team Adviser Tim Howard and the Colorado Rapids of the MLS will be playing a game against the Tulsa Roughnecks of the USL at AZP. Have you had any interaction with Tim Howard while forming this supporters group?
We spoke to Tim a few weeks ago during a promotion the club was filming and he is excited for what we plan to bring to the atmosphere of matches.
I noticed that there was already some Twitter beef going between the Mafia and Magic City Brigade, the supporters group for Birmingham. Are there any teams in the league that you anticipate we will have an immediate rivalry with?
So Birmingham is an expansion team like Memphis that will also start in 2019. There is definitely the feel of a rivalry, or derby, forming there. Memphis and Nashville have always had a natural rivalry and I don’t expect the USL to be any different. Memphis and Louisville have a long basketball history so that could spill over into soccer but I don’t see it being immediate.
Do you think that Memphis could support a MLS team down the road?
I think the first two seasons of USL will be an indicator there. People said Atlanta would never work and they have the highest attendance in the league. I don’t see why it couldn’t work down the road.
We know that soccer fans like to be the life of the party. Where are the best pre and post game locations going to be?
Everything will be at the Brass Door. Seamus Loftus is a staple in the soccer community in this city and a true “Memphian” and he has been gracious enough to open his doors to a rowdy group of supporters. We are currently working with him to get match day discounts for Bluff City Mafia members.
Finally, the one question that all anxious soccer fans will want to know the answer to: how can people join the Bluff City Mafia?
Stand and sing with us in the supporters section in the stadium. We are currently working on an “official” membership package that will include an exclusive T-shirt, membership card, and possibly a scarf that will be announced after the 901 game.
Thanks so much for your time and we look forward to joining you for a new era in Memphis soccer!
Header image credit to USLMemphis