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What a USL D1 league might look like

TL;DR: Man with too much time on his hands goes deep down the rabbit hole on a concept this sub already didn’t seem that enthusiastic about. If you really want to skip ahead, CTRL+F “verdict” and it’ll get you there.
Two days ago, u/MrPhillyj2wns made a post asking whether USL should launch a D1 league in order to compete in Concacaf. From the top voted replies, it appears this made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.
But I’ve been at home for eight weeks and I am terribly, terribly bored.
So, I present to you this overview of what the USL pyramid might look like if Jake Edwards got a head of steam and attempted to establish a USSF-sanctioned first division. This is by no means an endorsement of such a proposal or even a suggestion that USL SHOULD do such a thing. It is merely an examination of whether they COULD.
Welcome to the Thunderdome USL Premiership
First, there are some base-level assumptions we must make in this exercise, because it makes me feel more scientific and not like a guy who wrote this on Sunday while watching the Belarusian Premier League (Go BATE Borisov!).
  1. All D1 teams must comply with known USSF requirements for D1 leagues (more on that later).
  2. MLS, not liking this move, will immediately remove all directly-owned affiliate clubs from the USL structure (this does not include hybrid ownerships, like San Antonio FC – NYCFC). This removes all MLS2 teams but will not affect Colorado Springs, Reno, RGVFC and San Antonio.
  3. The USL will attempt to maintain both the USL Championship and USL League One, with an eventual mind toward creating the pro/rel paradise that is promised in Relegations 3:16.
  4. All of my research regarding facility size and ownership net worth is correct – this is probably the biggest leap of faith we have to make, since googling “NAME net worth” and “CITY richest people” doesn’t seem guaranteed to return accurate results.
  5. The most a club can increase its available seating capacity to meet D1 requirements in a current stadium is no more than 1,500 seats (10% of the required 15,000). If they need to add more, they’ll need a new facility.
  6. Let’s pretend that people are VERY willing to sell. It’s commonly acknowledged that the USL is a more financially feasible route to owning a soccer club than in MLS (c.f. MLS-Charlotte’s reported $325 million expansion fee) and the USSF has some very strict requirements for D1 sanctioning. It becomes pretty apparent when googling a lot of team’s owners that this requirement isn’t met, so let’s assume everyone that can’t sells to people who meet the requirements.
(Known) USSF D1 league requirements:
- League must have 12 teams to apply and 14 teams by year three
- Majority owner must have a net worth of $40 million, and the ownership group must have a total net worth of $70 million. The value of an owned stadium is not considered when calculating this value.
- Must have teams located in the Eastern, Central and Pacific time zones
- 75% of league’s teams must be based in markets with at a metro population of at least 1 million people.
- All league stadiums must have a capacity of at least 15,000
The ideal club candidate for the USL Premiership will meet the population and capacity requirements in its current ground, which will have a grass playing surface. Of the USL Championship’s 27 independent/hybrid affiliate clubs, I did not find one club that meets all these criteria as they currently stand.
Regarding turf fields, the USSF does not have a formal policy regarding the ideal playing surface but it is generally acknowledged that grass is superior to turf. 6 of 26 MLS stadiums utilize turf, or roughly 23% of stadiums. We’ll hold a similar restriction for our top flight, so 2-3 of our top flight clubs can have turf fields. Seem fair?
Capacity is going to be the biggest issue, since the disparity between current requirements for the second-tier (5,000) and the first tier (15,000) is a pretty massive gap. Nice club you have there, triple your capacity and you’re onto something. As a result, I have taken the liberty of relocating certain (read: nearly all) clubs to new grounds, trying my utmost to keep those clubs in their current markets and –importantly--, ensure they play on grass surfaces.
So, let’s do a case-by-case evaluation and see if we can put together 12-14 teams that meet the potential requirements, because what else do you have to do?
For each club’s breakdown, anything that represents a chance from what is currently true will be underlined.
Candidate: Birmingham Legion FC
Location (Metro population): Birmingham, Ala. (1,151,801)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Legion Field (FieldTurf, 71,594)
Potential owner: Stephens Family (reported net worth $4 billion)
Notes: Birmingham has a pretty strong candidacy. Having ditched the 5,000-seater BBVA Field for Legion Field, which sits 2.4 miles away, they’ve tapped into the city’s soccer history. Legion Field hosted portions of both the men’s and women’s tournaments at the 1996 Olympics, including a 3-1 U.S. loss to Argentina that saw 83,183 pack the house. The Harbert family seemed like strong ownership contenders, but since the death of matriarch Marguerite Harbert in 2015, it’s unclear where the wealth in the family is concentrated, so the Stephens seem like a better candidate. The only real knock that I can think of is that we really want to avoid having clubs play on turf, so I’d say they’re on the bubble of our platonic ideal USL Prem.
Candidate: Charleston Battery
Location (Metro population): Charleston, S.C. (713,000)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Johnson Hagood Stadium (Grass, ~14,700)
Potential owner: Anita Zucker (reported net worth $3 billion)
Notes: Charleston’s candidacy isn’t looking great. Already disadvantaged due to its undersized metro population, a move across the Cooper River to Johnson Hagood Stadium is cutting it close in terms of capacity. The stadium, home to The Citadel’s football team, used to seat 21,000, before 9,300 seats on the eastern grandstand were torn down in 2017 to deal with lead paint that had been used in their construction. Renovation plans include adding 3,000 seats back in, which could hit 15,000 if they bumped it to 3,300, but throw in a required sale by HCFC, LLC (led by content-creation platform founder Rob Salvatore) to chemical magnate Anita Zucker, and you’ll see there’s a lot of ifs and ands in this proposal.
Candidate: Charlotte Independence
Location (Metro population): Charlotte, N.C. (2,569, 213)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Jerry Richardson Stadium (Turf, 15,314)
Potential owner: James Goodnight (reported net worth $9.1 billion)
Notes: Charlotte ticks a lot of the boxes. A move from the Sportsplex at Matthews to UNC-Charlotte’s Jerry Richardson stadium meets capacity requirements, but puts them on to the dreaded turf. Regrettably, nearby American Legion Memorial Stadium only seats 10,500, despite a grass playing surface. With a sizeable metro population (sixth-largest in the USL Championship) and a possible owner in software billionaire James Goodnight, you’ve got some options here. The biggest problem likely lies in direct competition for market share against a much better-funded MLS Charlotte side due to join the league in 2021.
Candidate: Hartford Athletic
Location (Metro population): Hartford, Conn. (1,214,295)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Pratt & Whitney Stadium (Grass, 38,066)
Potential owner: Ray Dalio (reported net worth $18.4 billion)
Notes: Okay, I cheated a bit here, having to relocate Hartford to Pratt & Whitney Stadium, which is technically in East Hartford, Conn. I don’t know enough about the area to know if there’s some kind of massive beef between the two cities, but the club has history there, having played seven games in 2019 while Dillon Stadium underwent renovations. If the group of local businessmen that currently own the club manage to attract Dalio to the table, we’re on to something.
Candidate: Indy Eleven
Location (Metro population): Indianapolis, Ind. (2,048,703)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Lucas Oil Stadium (Turf, 62,421)
Potential owner: Jim Irsay (reported net worth of $3 billion)
Notes: Indy Eleven are a club that are SO CLOSE to being an ideal candidate – if it weren’t for Lucas Oil Stadium’s turf playing surface. Still, there’s a lot to like in this bid. I’m not going to lie, I have no idea what current owner and founder Ersal Ozdemir is worth, but it seems like there might be cause for concern. A sale to Irsay, who also owns the NFL Indianapolis (nee Baltimore) Colts, seems likely to keep the franchise there, rather than make a half-mile move to 14,230 capacity Victory Field where the AAA Indianapolis Indians play and expand from there.
Candidate: Louisville City FC
Location (Metro population): Louisville, Ky. (1,297,310)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Lynn Family Stadium (Grass, 14,000, possibly expandable to 20,000)
Potential owner: Wayne Hughes (reported net worth $2.8 billion)
Notes: I’m stretching things a bit here. Lynn Family stadium is currently listed as having 11,700 capacity that’s expandable to 14,000, but they’ve said that the ground could hold as many as 20,000 with additional construction, which might be enough to grant them a temporary waiver from USSF. If the stadium is a no-go, then there’s always Cardinal Stadium, home to the University of Louisville’s football team, which seats 65,000 but is turf. Either way, it seems like a sale to someone like Public Storage founder Wayne Hughes will be necessary to ensure the club has enough capital.
Candidate: Memphis 901 FC
Location (Metro population): Memphis, Tenn. (1,348,260)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Liberty Bowl Stadium (Turf, 58,325)
Potential owner: Fred Smith (reported net worth $3 billion)
Notes: Unfortunately for Memphis, AutoZone Park’s 10,000 seats won’t cut it at the D1 level. With its urban location, it would likely prove tough to renovate, as well. Liberty Bowl Stadium more than meets the need, but will involve the use of the dreaded turf. As far as an owner goes, FedEx founder Fred Smith seems like a good local option.
Candidate: Miami FC, “The”
Location (Metro population): Miami, Fla. (6,158,824)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Riccardo Silva Stadium (FieldTurf, 20,000)
Potential owner: Riccardo Silva (reported net worth $1 billion)
Notes: Well, well, well, Silva might get his wish for top-flight soccer, after all. He’s got the money, he’s got the metro, and his ground has the capacity. There is the nagging issue of the turf, though. Hard Rock Stadium might present a solution, including a capacity of 64,767 and a grass playing surface. It is worth noting, however, that this is the first profile where I didn’t have to find a new potential owner for a club.
Candidate: North Carolina FC
Location (Metro population): Durham, N.C. (1,214,516 in The Triangle)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Carter-Finley Stadium (Grass/Turf, 57,583)
Potential owner: Steve Malik (precise net worth unknown) / Dennis Gillings (reported net worth of $1.7 billion)
Notes: We have our first “relocation” in North Carolina FC, who were forced to trade Cary’s 10,000-seat WakeMed Soccer Park for Carter-Finley Stadium in Durham, home of the NC State Wolfpack and 57,583 of their closest friends. The move is a whopping 3.1 miles, thanks to the close-knit hub that exists between Cary, Durham and Raleigh. Carter-Finley might be my favorite of the stadium moves in this exercise. The field is grass, but the sidelines are artificial turf. Weird, right? Either way, it was good enough for Juventus to play a friendly against Chivas de Guadalajara there in 2011. Maybe the move would be pushed for by new owner and medical magnate Dennis Gillings, whose British roots might inspire him to get involved in the Beautiful Game. Straight up, though, I couldn’t find a net worth for current owner Steve Malik, though he did sell his company MedFusion for $91 million in 2010, then bought it back for an undisclosed amount and sold it again for $43 million last November. I don’t know if Malik has the juice to meet D1 requirements, but I suspect he’s close.
Candidate: Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Location (Metro population): Pittsburgh, Penn. (2,362,453)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Heinz Field (Grass, 64,450)
Potential owner: Henry Hillman (reported net worth $2.5 billion)
Notes: I don’t know a ton about the Riverhounds, but this move in particular feels like depriving a pretty blue-collar club from its roots. Highmark Stadium is a no-go from a seating perspective, but the Steelers’ home stadium at Heinz Field would more than meet the requirements and have a grass surface that was large enough to be sanctioned for a FIFA friendly between the U.S. WNT and Costa Rica in 2015. As for an owner, Tuffy Shallenberger (first ballot owner name HOF) doesn’t seem to fit the USSF bill, but legendary Pittsburgh industrialist Henry Hillman might. I’m sure you’re asking, why not the Rooney Family, if they’ll play at Heinz Field? I’ll tell you: I honestly can’t seem to pin down a value for the family. The Steelers are valued at a little over a billion and rumors persist that Dan Rooney is worth $500 million, but I’m not sure. I guess the Rooneys would work too, but it’s a definite departure from an owner in Shallenberger who was described by one journalist as a guy who “wears boots, jeans, a sweater and a trucker hat.”
Candidate: Saint Louis FC
Location (Metro population): St. Louis, Mo. (2,807,338)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Busch Stadium (Grass, 45,494)
Potential owner: William DeWitt Jr. (reported net worth $4 billion)
Notes: Saint Louis has some weirdness in making the jump to D1. Current CEO Jim Kavanaugh is an owner of the MLS side that will begin play in 2022. The club’s current ground at West Community Stadium isn’t big enough, but perhaps a timely sale to Cardinals owner William DeWitt Jr. could see the club playing games at Busch Stadium, which has a well established history of hosting other sports like hockey, college football and soccer (most recently a U.S. WNT friendly against New Zealand in 2019). The competition with another MLS franchise wouldn’t be ideal, like Charlotte, but with a big enough population and cross marketing from the Cardinals, maybe there’s a winner here. Wacko idea: If Busch doesn’t pan out, send them to The Dome. Sure, it’s a 60k turf closed-in stadium, but we can go for that retro NASL feel and pay homage to our nation’s soccer history.
Candidate: Tampa Bay Rowdies
Location (Metro population): Tampa, Fla. (3,068,511)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Raymond James Stadium (Grass, 65,518)
Potential owner: Edward DeBartolo Jr. (reported net worth $3 billion)
Notes: This one makes me sad. Despite having never been there, I see Al Lang Stadium as an iconic part of the Rowdies experience. Current owner Bill Edwards proposed an expansion to 18,000 seats in 2016, but the move seems to have stalled out. Frustrated with the city’s lack of action, Edwards sells to one-time San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr., who uses his old NFL connections to secure a cushy lease at the home of the Buccaneers in Ray Jay, the site of a 3-1 thrashing of Antigua and Barbuda during the United States’ 2014 World Cup Qualifying campaign.
Breather. Hey, we finished the Eastern Conference teams. Why are you still reading this? Why am I still writing it? Time is a meaningless construct in 2020 my friends, we are adrift in the void, fueled only by brief flashes of what once was and what may yet still be.
Candidate: Austin Bold FC
Location (Metro population): Austin, Texas (2,168,316)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Darrel K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium (FieldTurf, 95,594)
Potential owner: Michael Dell (reported net worth of $32.3 billion)
Notes: Anthony Precourt’s Austin FC has some unexpected competition and it comes in the form of tech magnate Michael Dell. Dell, were he to buy the club, would be one of the richest owners on our list and could flash his cash in the new first division. Would he have enough to convince Darrel K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium (I’m not kidding, that’s its actual name) to go back to a grass surface, like it did from ’96-’08? That’s between Dell and nearly 100,000 UT football fans, but everything can be had for the right price.
Candidate: Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Location (Metro population): Colorado Springs, Colo. (738,939)
Time zone: Mountain
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Falcon Stadium (FieldTurf, 46,692)
Potential owner: Charles Ergen (reported net worth $10.8 billion)
Notes: Welcome to Colorado Springs. We have hurdles. For the first time in 12 candidates, we’re back below the desired 1 million metro population mark. Colorado Springs actually plans to build a $35 million, 8,000 seat venue downtown that will be perfect for soccer, but in our timeline that’s 7,000 seats short. Enter Falcon Stadium, home of the Air Force Academy Falcons football team. Seems perfect except for the turf, right? Well, the tricky thing is that Falcon Stadium is technically on an active military base and is (I believe) government property. Challenges to getting in and out of the ground aside, the military tends to have a pretty grim view of government property being used by for-profit enterprises. Maybe Charles Ergen, founder and chairman of Dish Network, would be able to grease the right wheels, but you can go ahead and throw this into the “doubtful” category. It’s a shame, too. 6,035 feet of elevation is one hell of a home-field advantage.
Candidate: El Paso Locomotive FC
Location: El Paso, Texas
Time zone: Mountain
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Sun Bowl (FieldTurf, 51,500)
Potential owner: Paul Foster (reported net worth $1.7 billion)
Notes: God bless Texas. When compiling this list, I found so many of the theoretical stadium replacements were nearly serviceable by high school football fields. That’s insane, right? Anyway, Locomotive don’t have to settle for one of those, they’ve got the Sun Bowl, which had its capacity reduced in 2001 to a paltry 51,500 (from 52,000) specifically to accommodate soccer. Sure, it’s a turf surface, but what does new owner Paul Foster (who is only the 1,477th wealthiest man in the world, per Forbes) care, he’s got a team in a top league. Side note: Did you know that the Sun Bowl college football game is officially, through sponsorship, the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl? Why is it not the Frosted Flakes Sun Bowl? Why is the cereal mascot the promotional name of the football game? What are you doing, Kellogg’s?
Candidate: Las Vegas Lights FC
Location: Las Vegas, Nev. (2,227,053)
Time zone: Pacific
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Allegiant Stadium (Grass, 61,000)
Potential owner: Sheldon Adelson (reported net worth $37.7 billion)
Notes: Sin City. You had to know that the club that once signed Freddy Adu because “why not” was going to go all out in our flashy hypothetical proposal. Thanks to my narrative control of this whole thing, they have. Adelson is the second-richest owner in the league and has decided to do everything first class. That includes using the new Raiders stadium in nearby unincorporated Paradise, Nevada, and spending boatloads on high profile transfers. Zlatan is coming back to the U.S., confirmed.
Candidate: New Mexico United
Location: Albuquerque, N.M.
Time zone: Mountain
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Isotopes Park – officially Rio Grande Credit Union Field at Isotopes Park (Grass, 13,500 – 15,000 with expansion)
Potential owner: Maloof Family (reported net worth $1 billion)
Notes: New Mexico from its inception went deep on the community vibe, and I’ve tried to replicate that in this bid. The home field of Rio Grande Cr---I’m not typing out the whole thing—Isotopes Park falls just within the expansion rules we set to make it to 15,000 (weird, right?) and they’ve found a great local ownership group in the Lebanese-American Maloof (formerly Maalouf) family from Las Vegas. The only thing to worry about would be the metro population, but overall, this could be one of the gems of USL Prem.
Candidate: Oklahoma City Energy FC
Location: Oklahoma City, Okla. (1,396,445)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark (Grass, 13,066)
Potential owner: Harold Hamm (reported net worth $14.2 billion)
Notes: There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow and it says it’s time to change stadiums and owners to make it to D1. A sale to oil magnate Harold Hamm would give the club the finances it needs, but Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark (home of the OKC Dodgers) actually falls outside of the boundary of what would meet capacity if 1,500 seats were added. Could the club pull off a move to Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma – home of the Oklahoma Sooners? Maybe, but at 20 miles, this would be a reach.
Candidate: Orange County SC
Location: Irvine, Calif. (3,176, 000 in Orange County)
Time zone: Pacific
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Angels Stadium of Anaheim (Grass, 43,250)
Potential owner: Arte Moreno (reported net worth $3.3 billion)
Notes: You’ll never convince me that Rangers didn’t choose to partner with Orange County based primarily on its name. Either way, a sale to MLB Angels owner Arte Moreno produces a fruitful partnership, with the owner choosing to play his newest club out of the existing Angels stadium in OC. Another baseball conversion, sure, but with a metro population of over 3 million and the closest thing this hypothetical league has to an LA market, who’s complaining?
Candidate: Phoenix Rising FC
Location: Phoenix, Ariz. (4,857,962)
Time zone: Arizona
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): State Farm Stadium (Grass, 63,400)
Potential owner: Ernest Garcia II (reported net worth $5.7 billion)
Notes: We’re keeping it local with new owner and used car guru Ernest Garcia II. His dad owned a liquor store and he dropped out of college, which is making me feel amazing about my life choices right now. Casino Arizona Field is great, but State Farm Stadium is a grass surface that hosted the 2019 Gold Cup semifinal, so it’s a clear winner. Throw in Phoenix’s massive metro population and this one looks like a lock.
Candidate: Reno 1868 FC
Location: Reno, Nev. (425,417)
Time zone: Pacific
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Mackay Stadium (FieldTurf, 30,000)
Potential owner: Nancy Walton Laurie (reported net worth $7.1 billion)
Notes: The Biggest Little City on Earth has some serious barriers to overcome, thanks to its low metro population. A sale to Walmart heiress Nancy Walton Laurie and 1.6 mile-move to Mackay Stadium to split space with the University of Nevada, Reno makes this bid competitive, but the turf surface is another knock against it.
Candidate: Rio Grande Valley FC
Location: Edinburg, Texas (900,304)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): McAllen Memorial Stadium (FieldTurf, 13,500 – 15,000 with expansion)
Potential owner: Alice Louise Walton (reported net worth $45 billion)
Notes: Yes, I have a second straight Walmart heiress on the list. She was the first thing that popped up when I googled “McAllen Texas richest people.” The family rivalry has spurred Walton to buy a club as well, moving them 10 miles to McAllen Memorial Stadium which, as I alluded to earlier, is a straight up high school football stadium with a full color scoreboard. Toss in an additional 1,500 seats and you’ve met the minimum, despite the turf playing surface.
Candidate: San Antonio FC
Location: San Antonio, Texas (2,550,960)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Alamodome (FieldTurf, 64,000)
Potential owner: Red McCombs (reported net worth $1.6 billion)
Notes: I wanted to keep SAFC in the Spurs family, since the franchise is valued at $1.8 billion. That said, I didn’t let the Rooneys own the Riverhounds based on the Steelers’ value and it felt wrong to change the rules, so bring on Clear Channel co-founder Red McCombs. Toyota Field isn’t viable in the first division, but for the Alamodome, which was built in 1993 in hopes of attracting an NFL franchise (and never did), San Antonio can finally claim having *a* national football league team in its town (contingent on your definition of football). Now if only we could do something about that turf…
Candidate: San Diego Loyal SC
Location: San Diego, Calif. (3,317,749)
Time zone: Pacific
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): SDCCU Stadium (formerly Qualcomm) (Grass, 70,561)
Potential owner: Phil Mickelson (reported net worth $91 million)
Notes: Yes, golf’s Phil Mickelson. The existing ownership group didn’t seem to have the wherewithal to meet requirements, and Phil seemed to slot right in. As an athlete himself, he might be interesting in the new challenges of a top flight soccer team. Toss in a move to the former home of the chargers and you might have a basis for tremendous community support.
Candidate: FC Tulsa
Location: Tulsa, Okla. (991,561)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium (FieldTurf, 30,000)
Potential owner: George Kaiser ($10 billion)
Notes: I’m a fan of FC Tulsa’s rebrand, but if they want to make the first division, more changes are necessary. A sale to Tulsa native and one of the 100 richest men in the world George Kaiser means that funding is guaranteed. A move to Chapman Stadium would provide the necessary seats, despite the turf field. While the undersize population might be an issue at first glance, it’s hard to imagine U.S. Soccer not granting a waiver over a less than a 10k miss from the mark.
And that’s it! You made it. Those are all of the independent/hybrid affiliates in the USL Championship, which means that it’s time for our…
VERDICT: As an expert who has studied this issue for almost an entire day now, I am prepared to pronounce which USL Championships could be most ‘ready” for a jump to the USL Prem. A reminder that of the 27 clubs surveyed, 0 of them met our ideal criteria (proper ownership $, metro population, 15,000+ stadium with grass field).
Two of them, however, met almost all of those criteria: Indy Eleven and Miami FC. Those two clubs may use up two of our three available turf fields right from the outset, but the other factors they hit (particularly Silva’s ownership of Miami) makes them difficult, if not impossible to ignore for the top flight.
But who fill in the rest of the slots? Meet the entire 14-team USL Premier League:
Hartford Athletic
Indy Eleven
Louisville City FC
Miami FC
North Carolina FC
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Tampa Bay Rowdies
Saint Louis FC
San Antonio FC
New Mexico United
Phoenix Rising FC
Las Vegas Lights FC
Orange County SC
San Diego Loyal SC
Now, I shall provide my expert rationale for each club’s inclusion/exclusion, which can be roughly broken down into four categories.
Firm “yes”
Hartford Athletic: It’s a good market size with a solid stadium. With a decent investor and good community support, you’ve got potential here.
Indy Eleven: The turf at Lucas Oil Stadium is no reason to turn down a 62,421 venue and a metro population of over 2 million.
Louisville City FC: Why doesn’t the 2017 & 2018 USL Cup champion deserve a crack at the top flight? They have the market size, and with a bit of expansion have the stadium at their own SSS. LCFC, you’re in.
Miami FC, “The”: Our other blue-chip recruit on the basis of ownership value, market size and stadium capacity. Yes, that field is turf, but how could you snub Silva’s chance to claim victory as the first division 1 club soccer team to play in Miami?
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC: Pittsburgh sacrificed a lot to be here (according to my arbitrary calculations). Their market size and the potential boon of soccer at Heinz Field is an important inclusion to the league.
Saint Louis FC: Willie hears your “Busch League” jokes, Willie don’t care. A huge market size, combined with the absence of an NFL franchise creates opportunity. Competition with the MLS side, sure, but St. Louis has serious soccer history and we’re willing to bet it can support two clubs.
Tampa Bay Rowdies: With a huge population and a massive stadium waiting nearby, Tampa Bay seems like too good of an opportunity to pass up for the USL Prem.
Las Vegas Lights FC: Ostentatious, massive and well-financed, Las Vegas Lights FC is everything that the USL Premier League would need to assert that it didn’t intend to play second fiddle to MLS. Players will need to be kept on a short leash, but this is a hard market to pass up on.
Phoenix Rising FC: Huge population, big grass field available nearby and a solid history of success in recent years. No brainer.
San Diego Loyal SC: New club? Yes, massive population in a market that recently lost an absolutely huge sports presence? Also yes. This could be the USL Prem’s Seattle.
Cautious “yes”
New Mexico United: You have to take a chance on New Mexico United. The club set the league on fire with its social media presence and its weight in the community when it entered the league last season. The market may be slightly under USSF’s desired 1 million, but fervent support (and the ability to continue to use Isotopes Park) shouldn’t be discounted.
North Carolina FC: Carter-Finley’s mixed grass/turf surface is a barrier, to be sure, but the 57,000+ seats it offers (and being enough to offset other fully-turf offerings) is enough to put it in the black.
Orange County SC: It’s a top-tier club playing in a MLB stadium. I know it seems unlikely that USSF would approve something like that, but believe me when I say “it could happen.” Orange County is a massive market and California likely needs two clubs in the top flight.
San Antonio FC: Our third and only voluntary inclusion to the turf fields in the first division, we’re counting on San Antonio’s size and massive potential stadium to see it through.
Cautious “no”
Birmingham Legion FC: The town has solid soccer history and a huge potential venue, but the turf playing surface puts it on the outside looking in.
Memphis 901 FC: Like Birmingham, not much to dislike here outside of the turf playing surface at the larger playing venue.
Austin Bold FC: See the other two above.
FC Tulsa: Everything’s just a little bit off with this one. Market’s slightly too small, stadium has turf. Just not enough to put it over the top.
Firm “no”
Charleston Battery: Small metro and a small potential new stadium? It’s tough to say yes to the risk.
Charlotte Independence: A small new stadium and the possibility of having to compete with an organization that just paid over $300 million to join MLS means it’s best for this club to remain in the USL Championship.
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC: When a club’s best chance to meet a capacity requirement is to host games at a venue controlled by the military, that doesn’t speak well to a club’s chances.
El Paso Locomotive FC: An undersized market and a turf field that meets capacity requirements is the death knell for this one.
Oklahoma City Energy FC: Having to expand a baseball field to meet requirements is a bad start. Having to potentially play 20 miles away from your main market is even worse.
Reno 1868 FC: Population nearly a half-million short of the federation’s requirements AND a turf field at the hypothetical new stadium makes impossible to say yes to this bid.
Rio Grande Valley FC: All the seat expansions in the world can’t hide the fact that McAllen Memorial Stadium is a high school stadium through and through.
Here’s who’s left in the 11-team Championship:
Birmingham Legion FC
Charleston Battery
Charlotte Independence
Memphis 901 FC
Austin Bold FC
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
El Paso Locomotive FC
Oklahoma City Energy FC
Reno 1868 FC
Rio Grande Valley FC
FC Tulsa
With MLS folding the six affiliates it has in USL League One, the league is a little bit thin (especially considering USSF’s requirements for 8 teams for lower level leagues), but seems definitely able to expand up to the necessary numbers with Edwards’ allusions to five new additions this year:
Chattanooga Red Wolves SC
Forward Madison FC
Greenville Triumph SC
Union Omaha
Richmond Kickers
South Georgia Tormenta
FC Tucson
Format of Assorted Leagues – This (like everything in this post) is pure conjecture on my part, but here are my thoughts on how these leagues might function in a first year while waiting for additional expansion.
USL Premier – We’ll steal from the 12-team Scottish Premiership. Each club plays the other 11 clubs 3 times, with either one or two home matches against each side. When each club has played 33 matches, the top six and bottom six separate, with every club playing an additional five matches (against each other team in its group). The top club wins the league. The bottom club is automatically relegated. The second-bottom club will enter a two-legged playoff against someone (see below) from the championship playoffs.
USL Championship -- 11 clubs is a challenge to schedule for. How about every club plays everyone else three times (either one or two home matches against each side)? Top four clubs make the playoffs, which are decided by two-legged playoffs. The winner automatically goes up. I need feedback on the second part – is it better to have the runner-up from the playoffs face the second-bottom club from the Premiership, or should the winner of the third-place match-up get the chance to face them to keep drama going in both playoff series? As for relegation, we can clearly only send down the last place club while the third division is so small.
USL League One – While the league is so small, it doesn’t seem reasonable to have the clubs play as many matches as the higher divisions. Each club could play the other six clubs four times – twice at home and twice away – for a very equitable 24-match regular season, which would help restrict costs and still provide a chance to determine a clear winner. Whoever finishes top of the table goes up.
And there you have it, a hypothetical look at how the USL could build a D1 league right now. All it would take is a new stadium for almost the entire league and new owners for all but one of the 27 clubs, who wouldn’t feel that their property would be massively devalued if they got relegated.
Well that’s our show. I’m curious to see what you think of all of this, especially anything that you think I may have overlooked (I’m sure there’s plenty). Anyway, I hope you’re all staying safe and well.
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[Spoilers] Thoughts on Ben

First of all, major kudos to the actor who played Ben.
Ben doesn’t understands himself or his place in the world. He’s never come to terms with the harm he’s previously caused and is capable of causing when unmedicated. Ben behaves carelessly and selfishly, and has shown little ability to self-reflect even when medicated. I would even go on to argue that this is his natural attitude and its a contributing factor as to why he stops medicating himself. He’s not victim but someone complicit in his own demise.
Let’s just dissect his most prominent scenes prior to going off his medication.
  1. His personality. Ben’s a douchebag, plain and simple.
In his first scene with Ruth, he shows how entitled he is as he condescends and taunts her knowing full well that he has the upper hand because he’s Wendy’s brother. He throws out lines like: “Your funny.” “Go ahead put your fucking hands on me, see how that works out.” “Is this part of your customer service because if it is I have some thoughts.”
  1. In his first scene with Wendy, he flat out lies about multiple things.
He tells Wendy, “I’m fine, really.” Not at all an accurate description of his current state in life. He further says, “I’m taking care of myself, I’ve got a routine.” How is moving to essentially squat at his sister’s house for an indefinite period of time part of a self-care routine?
When asked about his teaching job he lies about being fired for going off his medication that results in him freaking out on a classroom full of students and assaulting an innocent bystander. He further lies by not telling her that this incident resulted him being charged with property damage and assault and battery, and him now hiding from an arrest warrant. His description of that event is, “Lose, no. Mutual decision, yes. We had some philosophical differences.” A classic bullshit artist answer.
He then deflects from the topic with sentimentality. “I wanted to see you. It’s been too long.” That statement may have some truth to it but its shadowed by the fact that showed up unannounced and uninvited from a position of desperation. For me, Ben isn’t really there to catch up with is family, to be a brother and uncle. Ben is in Missouri to use his family.
  1. He shirks all responsibility for what happened in North Carolina.
First off, when Marty asks him to leave he says, “I don’t want your money.” Yet he does want Marty’s money. He just wants it in the form of free housing and food to fund leisurely activities like cave diving, speed boating and gambling.
When he finally confesses to being there in order to avoid arrest he says, “This place is basically my salvation.” It’s interesting that he uses the word salvation because by definition it’s the exact opposite of what he deserves. “Deliverance from sin and its consequences.” Ben violently assaulted an innocent person and doesn’t want to pay the legal consequences. Ben undoubtedly deserves compassion in those consequences. He deserves to have a process of distributive and restorative justice that acknowledges his struggle with bi-polar disorder and not to be punished in a punitive way.
But he deserves consequences nonetheless. The incident at the school wasn’t Ben’s first bi-polar episode. He’s been hospitalized and has lived with it long enough that he should understand that he’s a danger to himself and others when he stops taking medication. But Ben is too egotistical to face judgement and make amends for his actions.
  1. He’s behaves like a massive hypocrite.
When Wendy confronts Ben about telling the kids about Marty, notice how he says, “My shit is your shit right now,” instead of the other way around.
Ben later tells Ruth, “I’m sorry that my family put you in their world of shit.” Does he not see that she lives in a trailer with the equivalent of a small junk yard around her? Ben has no ability to acknowledge the poverty that Ruth was born into that resulted in her relationship with Marty and Wendy. Ruth is now in a financial position to support her family so that Wyatt and Three don’t have to be involved in any criminal activity.
Ben then says, “I’m not going anywhere until I know you’re safe.” This statement is so ironic because Ben leaving is what would have kept Ruth safe. Ben plays a bigger part in endangering Ruth and putting her in his world of shit than anyone else.
  1. His decision to pursue Ruth and prioritize sex over his own personal health and safety, as well as the safety of his family just epitomizes Ben’s inherent carelessness and selfishness.
Ben has erectile disfunction while trying to be intimate with Ruth and decides the solution is to stop taking his medication. At this point Ben has full knowledge of the precarious situation Marty, Wendy and Ruth are in. That Charlotte and Jonah are in my association. He’s seen the cartel kidnap and rendition Marty to Mexico. He knows Ruth co-ordinates the money drops with the mob and that he riled up Frank Jr. He’s interacted with FBI Agent Maya Miller and has likely seen the other agents auditing the casino.
Despite all this he still decides to stop taking his medication in order to further his relationship with Ruth. All the while not telling her how dangerous he could be her. Either by physically harming her himself or saying the wrong things to the wrong people.
All of this is why I don’t have much sympathy for Ben. Yes he struggles with bi-polar disorder and he’s less calculating than everyone else, but he isn’t less dangerous. Ben is capable of some serious violence, the scenes at the school and bar show that. These incidents likely aren’t isolated and yet Ben is comfortable enough to stop taking his medication.
Ben is ultimately a perpetual screw-up that avoids all responsibility for the devastation he leaves in his wake. Ben chose to stay with Marty and Wendy. He chose to start a relationship with Ruth. He chose to stop taking his medication. He chose to be a player in the game and he lost.
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Wealth Formula Episode 224: Multifamily Macroeconomics in the Twilight Zone

Catch the full episode: https://www.wealthformula.com/podcast/224-multifamily-macroeconomics-in-the-twilight-zone/
Buck: Welcome back to the show everyone. Today my guest on Wealth Formula Podcast, he's been on the show before. He's economist Ryan Davis. He actually joined us at one of our last Wealth Formula meetups. Of course, the last one we had was canceled but Ryan was at the one before that. He serves as a chief operating officer at Witten Advisors and provides fact-based research analysis and discussion to help clients like us formulate their apartment strategies and these insights and for investment decisions for multi-family development and buy/sell opportunities which as you can imagine we're all looking for some of this advice these days. Ryan has a PhD in economics from the University of Texas. Ryan, welcome back to Wealth Formula Podcast.
Ryan: Thank you. Glad to be back.
Buck: Yeah it's been like a pandemic ago when we last talked right? Listen, you know I want to kind of jump into the whole you know what the heck is going on, I mean the overall, if you would, you know kind of give me your overall assessment of the economy. I mean obviously we know these huge drops in GDP etc which were expected last quarter. How is this all affecting real estate asset prices especially you know apartments which is you know is our interest and something that you specialize in?
Ryan: Sure so yeah the great unknown is the pace of the recovery. So we had that big drop through April in terms of employment and then we got a bounce back in May and June and the hope was that it was going to be a V-shaped recovery. But then we saw virus cases ramp back up in the second half of June into the early part of July and the local economy started rolling back some of their openings and so with that, we've kind of stalled out recently. So we'll get the July numbers this Friday for overall payroll gains and that could I think the consensus is anywhere between one, one and a half million jobs it could be negative so who knows but it looks like the hope for a v-shaped recovery in the economy has kind of stalled out after the first two months of optimism. And so we think that going forward we won't see any the worst is behind us really and so we won't see you know the big losses that we experienced in March and early into April so kind of what we're calling for right now is for the national economy to continue to add jobs for the remainder of the year and then beginning next year a recovery should emerge and that would sustain demand for housing and ultimately apartments going forward. In the near term as far as multi-family goes we expect some pain through the end of this year and then into the early part of next year. In terms of pricing power, if we had to boil it down to one number it's rent growth so year over year effective rent growth we think that declines to eight percent rent cuts this year and into the early part of 2021. That varies considerably on a local market basis I think our worst-performing market is Metro New York City probably no surprise there but then also many of the other gateway markets such as Boston, LA, the Bay Area, etc. We expect rent declines to be lower than that eight percent across the board, however many of the inner west, Texas, southeastern market should outperform still see rent declines but not closer to five/six percent range at the depth and so we expect near-term pain but then as we get out into 2021 and afterward and the economy begins to add a lot of jobs we would expect rent growth to return to multi-family. And then what that means for pricing in terms of apartment assets for right now in the second quarter hardly any deals trade at hand so it's really tough to get a sense of where pricing is and with the deals that have traded though the cap rates have remained relatively stable which is a good sign. We've heard from some of our merchant builder clients where they had assets they had constructed and were going out to the market to sell in the early part of April they were saying 10 discounts in terms of the compared to pre corona levels but that has since come back in the last 45-60 days and maybe it's only one to two percent in terms of the haircut that they're seeing out there right now. And there's a just a ton of capital that wants to get back into multifamily at the same time there's hardly any distress out there right now so there's a lack of available to you know supply to buy and so everyone is just kind of in this standstill there's a big ass gap because buyers aren't willing to pay yesterday's prices for assets but sellers aren't willing to give any you know deep discounts right now and so it's kind of a standstill and we’ll see how all this plays out.
Buck: Yeah you know it's really interesting we're obviously you know through, you work with Western Wealth Capital, one of my partners and you know it's funny because we were kind of thinking well maybe there'll be some real buying opportunities but you know we've seen a little bit maybe just you know from buyers who are sellers who just are just wanting to get out while they're ahead maybe they made some money you know maybe they and at this point you know they're just thinking let's just cash out and maybe they're willing to take a little bit less but for the most part you know if you look across our own portfolio and it might be because it's largely again Texas and Arizona, etc that and maybe it's because it's mostly working-class B and you know high C class apartment but our portfolio you know the numbers are just as good as they've ever been in terms of you know occupancy in terms of even our we're still raising rents. And so when you look at that you're like well I mean how do you expect there to be any you know smoking deals out there if the sellers really aren't feeling any distress. So is there a difference you know when you look at something like a B and C class apartment scenario versus A right now or have you been able to break that down a little bit because I think the people I know who are in the A-class and new build are you know they're certainly feeling things a little bit more than we are.
Ryan: Yeah so what we've heard from some of our clients in terms of early on so may June in terms of rent collections class A's were actually from a nationwide perspective actually exceeded the class B and C product. Now we don't think that will continue going forward and the main reason is that new deliveries that are coming online they will compete with the existing top of the market product and so we think that it will be short-lived in terms of the top of the market outperformance and another part is due to just the nature of this downturn where low-wage sectors were hit extremely hard in April, got some bounce back in May and June but the leisure and hospitality sectors lower-paying positions those have been the most impacted so far. But going forward we don't think that this downturn would be any different than prior recessions in terms of the class A leading the way down in terms of jobs and occupancy and also rent growth or rent cuts in the near term. So class A’s will lead the market down but then as we get out into the later part of next year and into early 2022 then class A's would outperform the broader market. So yeah we think through the end of this year until early next that B's and C's will hold up relatively better but that's mainly a function of just the competition that it takes to get these new projects they will get leased up it's just a matter of the market-clearing price and so those have to compete those could be mostly with the top end of the spectrum and so we see big rent declines and concessions in the class A space going forward.
Buck: You know there's this thesis that's going around in the multi-family space and you know I've been sort of you know looking at it this way too for a while though I'm starting to you know feel like it's maybe not gonna happen is this idea that there's going to be a potentially before we really rebound and start heading up again that there’ll potentially be a you know big tsunami of defaults and things like that. Right now at least what I'm you know seeing and hearing about in terms of the lending markets and in terms of these properties, there really isn't much indication of that right now is there I mean what do you think?
Ryan: No at least not in the short term I mean again there's it goes back to my earlier comment there's been no distress really and so that is due mainly to the huge stimulus packages that have been passed those from a fiscal standpoint and a monetary standpoint which is it's crazy to think that GDP declined at an annualized rate by 32 however incomes soared and so that's all due to the stimulus that we saw and so that's helped prop up renters incomes and allow them to pay rent. Now going forward I think some of these the number of defaults I don't think there will be a tsunami, at least that's how we view it right now, ask me again in a week and it could change, but I think that the defaults will be very market specific and so those geographies that have been hit harder we'll see a larger number but many of the Texas markets, Phoenix, Denver, southeast high growth markets where you've got this short-term tailwind in terms of folks at the margin more and the trends that have been in place for years of folks moving from gateway markets into these inner markets will be kind of you know given a stairway shot really in the near term and so that would help to prop up multi-family fundamentals and so yeah if you're expecting a tsunami of defaults in any of those markets that I've mentioned again it kind of gets a little bit granular in terms of you know potentially Orlando might have some problems just with the amount of supply and then the you know low-wage in tourism industries being impacted more dramatically and that would lead to some weakness in Orlando but out outside of that maybe Houston you could argue you know somewhat but outside of those two and those those areas of the inner west Texas, southeast Florida should be but hold up you know relatively well and I would think that the main stress points will be out you know on the coast in California potentially portland we do think seattle holds up relatively well and then northeast in terms of you know New York and Boston as well so I think it's very locally market driven.
Buck: Yeah it's interesting you know we did we were a little worried about Houston too but our you know Houston portfolio is actually doing awesome it's not having any problems at all which is which was you know again, knock on wood that’s what it's been so far. Let me ask you another question you mentioned the pent-up demand of you know money on the sidelines waiting to get back in and you know and in many situations, they have to get back in right they're mandated to deploy capital and that sort of thing do you the one thought that I've had through this is you know multi-family and well multi-family in general has held up so well during this period of time does that potentially create a situation where you know the big money that's coming in starts looking at this even harder as potentially a little bit of a hedge or a little bit of safe haven. What what do you guys think is going to be the effect of that you know the relatively stable performance and then ultimately you know having all of this money on the sidelines,? Do you see paradoxical even further compression of cap rates over the next couple years? What's your thought on that?
Ryan: Yeah and so kind of pre-corona our forecast was for cap rates to continue to decline and you know taking a step back it was mainly driven by global factors with the aging populations across the globe that have built wealth up and all that investment needed to be placed somewhere. And so those trends were driving returns lower for longer and so those are the demographic that have not been affected by the pandemic. And so just from a global standpoint, we're expecting returns across all assets whether stocks bonds you know all classes of real estate whether it's multi or industrial retail office, etc those returns would continue to head lower. Now we've had the pandemic and we've seen multi-family and industrial hold up exceedingly well and who knows what to make of retail office and lodging just lots of pain and in those sectors and so if you need to be allocated to real estate then multifamily and industrial or where you want to be at least in the short term and especially if you're looking for consistency of returns and you know risk-adjusted on a risk-adjusted basis you know multi-industrial or have outperformed other asset classes and so really to get into the lodging office retail space probably more opportunistic mindset in terms of those assets may need to be repositioned etc and so I think a lot of that money that's out there is not looking to get there's a lot that's looking for that type of asset turnaround story but there's also a lot of money out there that needs the stability. And so that should continue to compress cap rates or put a really put a cap on that cap rates and so it would be no surprise if cap rates on an aggregate basis hold steady and maybe even decline despite a deterioration in short-term fundamentals and part of that is due to the long-term belief in apartments going forward and so yes there's a short-term dislocation where we expect some move-outs that you know this year actually there are a lot of move-outs that we expect and so there's going to be a lot of doubling up folks moving back in with their families but then there's going to be pent up demand as we as that recovery takes hold next year and that will be released and so we see leasing to be through the roof next year and then out into 2022. Then at the same time as that demand story improves in the short term we see starts decelerating dramatically so we've we're going from a 400,000 unit run rate to about 200,000 units by the early part of next year. And so new production is going to get cut in half now that we don't get any benefit of that immediately so we have to wait till later part of 2022 and 2023 before we see that slowdown and production really lift fundamentals and so I think everyone is seeing that yes there's some short-term disruption in the multi-family market right now, but the long-term drivers are there and if you have the capital to wait out this very painful period in the short term then there will be major benefits after that we should see after next year.
Buck: Now one of the things you said I think earlier is that the worst is behind us do you believe that's the case in terms of rent growth and you know rent cuts and that sort of thing right now?
Ryan: I think the worst is behind us in terms of the economy. I think that going forward we should continue to produce job gains on a monthly basis, though this next report could see some layoffs we'll see the consensus is one million one and a half. In terms of multi-family we do not think the worst is behind us we think that fundamentals will continue to deteriorate into the early part of next year we think that you know kind of right now in terms of year over year rent growth in the early part of this year let's call it three, three and a half percent we've since gone down to zero percent in the second quarter. So on a quarterly basis we've seen some dramatic rent cuts, again this is on a national basis and then as we move forward we see occupancy dropping by about three percentage points into the early part of next year, rent declines of about eight percent through the remainder of this year into the first quarter of next year and so no we do think that there will be some deterioration and fundamentals going forward. On the flip side of that might present some opportunities and so any assets that were purchased specially in your space in terms of if they were bought at the top of the market at the end of last year in the early part of this year and now that value-add story isn't there where you might not be able to get the rent bumps that you were expecting so some of those assets will have to be recapitalized and so that might present some opportunity as the year progresses but again like you said we haven't seen that materialized so far.
Buck: Yeah that's the tricky part right I mean it's sort of like I think when you're on the buy side here you're saying well I mean these prices that we're seeing right now you know with prolonged you know low-interest rates which we can pretty much guarantee at this point for a period of time and then the pent-up demand. It's sort of like okay well I mean this actually might be one of the better times to buy if you consider what could potentially happen in the next you know 18 to 24 months in terms of you know explosive growth. When you look at those indicators that you're you know that you're talking about that may lead to some of the more explosive growth metrics what markets come to mind the most for you?
Buck: Now one of the things you said I think earlier is that the worst is behind us do you believe that's the case in terms of rent growth and you know rent cuts and that sort of thing right now?
Ryan: Yeah so our general geographic areas that we like we like the southeast, parts of Florida, Texas and the inner west. We really like Atlanta, we like South Florida though there's a little more pain in the short term some of our clients are saying it kind of in terms of you know rent collections you know northeast but also yeah LA but then South Florida is outperforming those two areas but still lagging some of these other markets. So we like the Texas markets long term the interwebs you have Phoenix, Denver, Salt Lake as well. We like Seattle that's an outlier on the west coast but then the other markets whereas in the Bay Area we expect those you know rent growth numbers to average four, four and a half percent which stack up really well across the nation but for those markets that's a recession pretty much and so compared to what's normal and the cap rates you have to pay the rent growth numbers there kind of you know lackluster. So the midwest the markets they won't be hit as hard but still they don't get that explosive growth going forward and so we really like the inner West Texas, southeast of Florida markets and you know part of that has been driven being driven by the migration flows. So domestic migration numbers have really helped out all of these markets we've seen outflows from the northeast boston new york the bay area Southern California we've seen migration outflows from those markets into the you know inner west you know Las Vegas the inland Phoenix, Denver you know people moving from the coast into those markets and then you know also parts of texas as well but then in terms of the northeast the flows that are coming in to the Nashvilles the Charlottes, Raleighs, Atlanta, Florida markets we and then also Texas as well and so those trends have been accelerated at least in the short term, but it's important to remember that those have been going on for a decade at least even more and then other markets and so it's not anything new but at the margin that will support many of these other markets.
Buck: Yeah on the west coast I mean there's that flight to Arizona as well right from California. One of the things that you know is worth talking about is what effect this has had you know the pandemic and the recession on the lending market, with Fannie and Freddie and you know how that might be playing into any of the growth or lack of growth.
Ryan: Yeah I think on the financing side you know debt for stabilized assets it's there and it's cheap you may have to you know have higher reserves than you've had typically but for the most part it's there and so that's part of the appeal of buying assets right now with these record low interest rates. So I think for stabilized assets yeah it's there for new construction it is dried up considerably and this is a change in the last 30 to 60 days and so the fed does a survey each quarter of banks and their tightening of multi-family construction lending standards and that the latest report shows 70 percent of banks tighten their multi-family construction loans last quarter which we haven't seen those levels since 2008/2009. And so I think part of it's the lenders are trying to make sense of what they have in terms of all these other asset types in terms of real estate or retail, lodging, office loans, they're trying to you know spend a lot of time working those out and so then you add on the uncertainty in terms of the economic recovery etc, they've pretty much put a halt on new construction loans. And so that's been a big change here in the last two months call it. Then on the equity side I think returns have been increased but still available and interested but you know a lot of you know equity and especially focusing in on the new starts pipeline if all the deals that have been started are continuing and it's kind of a mixed bag from our clients in terms of are you seeing delays or actually some other clients that reported these they were able to speed up the timing in terms of getting able to get trucks into sites very easily and then also the construction workers that were on you know working on hotels motels those have come into the apartment sector and so that's provided more manpower in terms of getting these deals done. And so those that were under construction are continuing to proceed, those that were capitalized I think that but haven't begun those have been they haven't pulled out completely they just said let's press pause to see let's say can we get any break in construction costs over the next several months and so the equity and banks they're still willing to do it move forward on those deals that have been capitalized but are you know slow playing it. And then you get to the others where there's land sites and they hadn't been entitled and haven't been capitalized those deals we think have been shelved for right now and so it kind of where some opportunity could be is on the land side of you know potentially purchasing some land sites that might be teed up for development as we get further along in this recovery.
Buck: Again one of the things that you're saying though in terms of construction loans not being there again it helps us for those of us who have apartment portfolios already that are already there that that again goes to the issue of a simple supply and demand issue which we can benefit from if there's not a whole lot of new builds. You know this is a major driving variable in in apartment buildings nationally can you give us a little bit of the idea of you know just not being able to keep up with you know population growth in various parts of the country, can you give us a little bit of you know sort of a thousand-foot view on the perspective on how big of an issue that actually is?
Ryan: I don't know if it's that big of an issue you know on on the whole and I think that you know some of these higher growth markets in terms of where we've you know call it the Atlantas and North Carolina markets, Central North Florida, Texas, the inner west regions where we've seen large population growth statistics you know high growth markets but they're also they also tend to be the highest in terms of supply for housing and so it's more easy to build in those markets especially you know out as you get away from the know central cities etc and so where we've seen the the biggest barriers to supply are out on the coast and so we've seen you know job growth be pretty good in those markets but the supply hasn't kept up at all and so that's why you're seeing you know these big you know rent affordability you know problems in the coastal markets and so we think that supply not keeping up with the population dynamics is more of a coastal problem but then you know as you get into the markets that are more accepting of new development then you know we've seen housing supply increase at a rapid clip in many of these other markets I think you know Austin you know even through the June of this year permit activity for multi-family continued to set it reached big big levels and so I think year to date in Austin it's already pulled permits on almost 10,000 units already which is you know huge numbers. And so I do think that while these population growth numbers and some of these markets are you know off the charts especially compared to you know some of the coastal markets, that supply has been able to keep up there and so yeah you see pockets of where you know rent growth you know bumps up to you know five, six percent levels, it's especially that was the case in Phoenix and Las Vegas over the past two to three years where those markets were leading in terms of rent increases but they tend to you know be markets that you know will accept more new supply and so that will tend to even out over the long term.
Buck: How's Vegas doing out of curiosity because that one was just crushing it. It seemed it seemed a little dangerous you know it seemed like one of those markets where it's like wow is it real or is it one of those things that's just gonna go back to Vegas.
Ryan: Yeah exactly and yeah kind of thinking that you know before kind of goes back to your comment earlier about people moving from the coast to getting in their car and driving to the riverside and then Las Vegas and Phoenix and so it was benefiting from a real out-migration from expensive coastal California. That said that just the nature of this pandemic crushing leisure and hospitality and the conference circuit that the job losses in Las Vegas I think you know through April into May led the nation. We've seen some a bit of a bounce back there but really the question is you know how fast does the the conference you know a circuit come back, how fast are people willing to travel to casinos, I know they have already, but I think that pre-corona the growth was real and yeah absolutely now it's a little bit different you know market in terms of the cost and you don't want to go in there and if you're a developer you don't you know want to build a high-rise there and so your strategy is a little bit different but so far it's held up relatively well, all things considered, but still a lot of weakness that is materializing in Vegas.
Buck: Interesting stuff. Well listen I don't want to keep you all day long, Ryan, but it's been great talking to you. Where can we learn more about your work?
Ryan: Sure. Probably the easiest is wittenadvisors.com you can go there, all our contact information is there, feel free to reach out with a phone call or send me an email anytime and I'll be happy to give you more details on the services that we provide and how we add value to many clients that are in either owner, operators, developers, equity or lender clients.
Buck: Fantastic thanks again and we'd love to have you again you know in a few months to reassess where we are at.
Ryan: All right. Sounds good. Looking forward to it.
Buck: We'll be right back
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Shows Coming Near You This Week (4/14 - 4/20)

Obviously I don't know everything so I'm limiting this post to US and Canada. If I missed anything please leave it in the comments below.
The Plot in You w/ Like Moths to Flames, Dayseeker, Limbs
The Browning w/ Betraying the Martyrs and Extortionist
Distinguisher w/ Boundaries, Church Tongue and Castaway (Bands Vary by Date)
Knocked Loose w/ The Acacia Strain, Harms Way, Sanction and Higher Power
Ice Nine Kills and From Ashes to New w/ Palisades, Afterlife and HAWK
Parkway Drive and Killswitch Engage w/ After the Burial and Vein
Veil of Maya w/ Intervals, Strawberry Girls and Cryptodira
Crown the Empire and We Came As Romans w/ ERRA and Shapes
Atreyu and Motionless in White w/ Wilson (Bands may vary by date)
Sylar w/ Cane Hill, Varials and Bloodline
Weeping Wound w/ Locals
Born A New w/ Weeping Wound and Sledge (Bands Vary By Date)
No Convictions w/ Two Piece and Hollowed Out (Bands vary by date)
WristMeetRazor w/ locals
Safe & Sound w/ locals
This is L.A. Festival (Ft. Xibalba, Downpresser, Vamachara, Buried Dreams and more)
Beartooth w/ Of Mice and Men, Hands Like Houses and Dead American (Bands vary by date, OM&M off tour until 4/27 due to Medical emergency)
Please check with your local venue/bookepromoter for details regarding venue, time, local support, etc.
Feel free to leave any shows that I may have missed or any tours that are coming up in the comments.
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Interview with magician Lee Asher (President of 52 Plus Joker American Playing Card Collector Club)

Interview with magician Lee Asher (President of 52 Plus Joker American Playing Card Collector Club)

Who is Lee Asher?

I first came across the work of Lee Asher many years ago. At that time I was exploring my long-time interest in card magic, and Lee had made some good contributions in that area. One of his signature tricks that he is well-known for is an ace routine called the Asher Twist. If you enjoy card magic, you'll appreciate the cleverness involved and the impossibility it apparently creates. Lee is skilled magician, and his name will be familiar to many from his work as a magic consultant.
But Lee Asher's credentials extend much further than the contributions he's made as a magician. Self-described as a "playing card and sleight of hand expert", it's especially his expertise in the area of playing cards that will interest most readers of this article. When my personal interest in playing cards was revived in the last number of years, I kept coming across his name in several places. When researching things like the iconic Jerry Nuggets Playing Cards, I came across his outstanding article on the subject. While looking up information about dating playing cards, his name popped up yet again, once more with a very informative and authoritative article about this. Via the official online portal for the 52 Plus Joker American Playing Card Collector Club, PlayingCardForum.com, I learned that Lee is in fact the current President of this highly respected organization for collectors of playing cards.
All this is to say that when it comes to experience with playing cards, it's hard to think of someone with finer credentials than Lee Asher. From his personal experience as a magician and a collector, as well as his involvement with 52 Plus Joker and as President, it's obvious that he knows what he's talking about. And fortunately for us, Lee was happy to talk to us, agreeing to this interview, in which he answers questions about himself, about playing cards, about collecting, and of course about 52 Plus Joker. So let's hand it over to Lee, and hear what he has to say!

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The Interview

General background
For those who don't know anything about you, what can you tell us about yourself and your background?
My name is Lee Asher. I'm 42 years old, and I'm a second-generation sleight of hand artist. My father taught me magic at the ripe age of seven. When I was about fifteen, I started performing magic for money at restaurant and private gigs. Eventually, I moved from my birth state of Florida all the way to Las Vegas, Nevada to attend University and study casino management (UNLV).
Directly after graduating in 1999, I threw all my possessions into a Las Vegas storage locker and chased my heart to Paris, France. During this sublime period of my life, I also traveled around Europe performing and teaching my brand of sleight of hand to other magicians.
Once I conquered Europe, I began performing and lecturing around the rest of the world in cities such as in London, Singapore, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Kuala Lumpur, Perth, Shanghai, Taipei, Santo Domingo, Beijing, Tokyo, Glasgow, Tel-Aviv, Hong Kong - and the list goes on and on.
Eventually I moved back in the Americas. Now I live in Canada, married to the woman of my dreams. My wife's name is Christina. And while we have no children, we have a big lovable boxer dog named Quinton.
What do you currently do for a day job and/or what are your other interests?
I'm a magic consultant, magician and playing card expert. In my spare time, I like collecting antique, vintage and modern playing cards. I also like creating sleight of hand and other fun moves. But when I'm not holding cards, I'm reading, cooking, watching movies or playing card games with my wife.
Given that you have had a successful career in magic, what would be some highlights in your personal curriculum vitae?
I'm fortunate. I have a bunch. Here are a handful of highlights that mean the the world to me: ● 1993 - Performed with my father as a walk-around magician on Miami's exclusive, Fisher Island. ● 1996 - Performed at the Magical Empire, a 66 million dollar attraction at Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas. ● 2001 - Lectured at London, England's prestigious Magic Circle on September 10th, 2001. ● 2005 - Performed as an Absolut Vodka ambassador during their 'Magic of Winter' campaign using the now famous Absolut cards. ● 2016 - Magic celebrity judge on Amazing Magicians with China's most famous movie actress, Fan Bing Bing.
What sparked your interest in magic to begin with, and what is it about magic that you still love today?
My father. He's a eye doctor by day, and a magician at night. He's how I got interested in the art of magic. Adequately reflecting on his significance in a mere several hundred words is impossible. Nonetheless, I’d like to share some interesting facts with you about my dad, Mark Horowitz.
Let’s back up to the mid-1950s when my father was a child. New York City was a hotbed for magic in the United States, only rivaled by cities like Chicago & Los Angeles. Fortuitously, Dad learned from a handful of New York’s finest magicians. Mega legends like Al Flosso and Lou Tannen nurtured his love for the art. These men taught my father the foundations of magic. You can say these formative experiences helped mold him into the magician that Dad is today. On occasion, you’ll hear him reminisce fondly about spending time in those famous NYC magic shops.
BTW, Dad never became a full-time pro. Though he managed to support himself with magic gigs throughout university and optometry school. After graduating, he became a licensed optometrist with his own practice. He also became the resident trade show magician for Swan Optical and HydroCurve, a major contact lens company owned by Revlon. On top of his day job, Dad flew around the nation entertaining high-ranking executives and high-profile clients of the optical industry. Without a shred of doubt, my father paved the way for me to be a professional magician.
Moreover, if you've met him before, then you’ll know that Dad indulges by collecting artifacts from his youth. If it triggers fond memories of his illustrious past, he collects it. Of course it's impossible to own everything. So like any seasoned collector, he's refined his tastes over the years. Currently, he prefers acquiring magic-themed comics, autographed magic books and unique magic ephemera. His lifelong passion for collecting led him to amass the world’s largest magic comic book collection. This impressive feat landed him on the cover of MAGIC Magazine in April 2007.
During an early point in his life, my father immersed himself in the political side of magic. Year after year, he's generously helped organize IBM magic meetings, lectures and conventions on a local, state, and nationwide levels. To this day, he’s still involved with his local IBM magic club's affairs.
There's no question that his lifetime of remarkable dedication and outstanding service to the organization exemplifies his genuine reverence for the art of magic. While the word count on my heartfelt tribute here answering your question will sadly run out, the love I have for my father will not.

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About playing cards
What kind of playing cards did you first use when you started magic?
My dad had already amassed a bunch of decks from years of performance and collecting, so my earliest memories of holding cards and practicing are with US Playing Card Company (USPCC) 808 Series Bicycle 'Rider' backs. Not too long after, I found Tally-Ho's, Bees, Blue Ribbons, and Aristocrats. Eventually, other brands like Hoyle (shell backs) made their way into my hands, too.
As you know, these are all American-made decks. So the first European deck I touched was in 1989. I was thirteen. It's also when the Klutz Book of Card Magic was released. It came with a bridged-sized deck of Piatnic playing cards. They were glorious! I never felt such a thick, smooth, robust deck of cards. My adventures with European decks would not end here. More on that later.
Do you use playing cards for anything other than card magic? (e.g. card flourishing, card games, or anything else?)
Sure. I play card games with my wife all the time. Lately, we've been enjoying a lot of Monopoly Deal (made by Cartamundi). She's savage and plays a mean game of cards. I hardly ever win!
As for flourishing, I still dabble. Though, I don't have the time to practice as much of it as I should. It's true what they say; you must use it, or you lose it. Back in the day, I was influenced by renowned skateboarders like Stacey Peralta and Rodney Mullen. I introduced aerial moves to the flourish culture like ‘Yo’ (1997), ‘Diving Board Double’ (1997), and rail slide-esque techniques like the ‘Silver Surfer’ (1998).
Unquestionably, I'm exhilarated by this new generation of cardists and magicians. It also thrills me when I see people playing with my techniques. For instance, a simple search yields hundreds of videos of young people performing these moves. It's an honor watching the material grow larger than I could have ever imagined.
What do you think are the essential qualities of a good deck of playing cards in terms of design?
I'm a magician. Thus, I'm answering like a magician. I need a deck of cards that people can recognize. For instance, if the courts are beautifully customized but no one realizes they're looking at a King of Clubs, then the design hinders the performance.
I also believe the cards should be somewhat symmetrical, though I'm open to interpretation. There are some beautiful one-way patterned decks. Plus, if subtle enough, the one-ways help me achieve some stunning magical effects! Shhhhh.....
What should buyers today look for in a quality deck of playing cards?
Honestly, a majority of buyers aren't aware of the diverse qualities found in playing cards. There are a plethora of options available on the market today.
My advice: Buy a few decks made by different manufacturers --from around the world-- and start playing. Gather your own empirical evidence. Do you like cards feeling thick? What about thin? Embossed? Or smooth? Believe it or not, this is a personal journey. You never know, you might discover something new about yourself along the way.
The playing card industry has changed rapidly over the last two decades. Do you have any thoughts on the explosion of custom playing cards?
As the self-proclaimed 'king of playing card geeks', I approve of what's happening. Every day I wake up and see new decks appear for sale from different producers, all around the globe. It's a playing card aficionado's wet dream.
Certainly it doesn’t take a psychologist to comprehend the decks we are attracted to --the ones we use for playing, performance and collect in our vaults-- speak to our own personalities and beliefs. They help make us feel unique, and it’s fair to say all these modern decks cater to this meaningful need.
Simply put, they offer a bit of happiness to those who find part of themselves represented within the design, color, and even texture of the deck. Again, I approve.
What impact has crowdfunding like Kickstarter had on the custom playing card industry and collecting? And what has your own experience (if any) with this been like?
Kickstarter and the crowd-funding concept have rewritten the rules on how items are produced and purchased. In 2009, when Kickstarter began, there were under fifty decks launched; now there are hundreds of decks per year looking for funding. Of those projects, at little less than half succeed and find financial backing. In the big scheme of things, that’s impressive!
More important, Kickstarter is where we’re seeing wonderful grass-roots innovation. If the crowd decides that the project isn’t interesting, then the project isn’t funded. So, no one wastes time on unnecessary R&D. The items that receive funding are the items people want. That, in itself, is an innovation. And because of the low risk involved with crowd-funding a project, more avant-garde, ground-breaking concepts are put forth. These kinds of ideas won’t be attempted by any of the larger card producers scared to waste money 'testing the waters'.
But it gets better. The internet encourages fans connecting with artists. Which, in turn, encourages artists pushing the limits on what they create. It’s a beautifully symbiotic relationship.
All the while, playing card manufacturers are looking for innovative ways to accommodate. As a result, ground-breaking innovation and even long forgotten vintage techniques are making major comebacks -- in modern ways.
Where do you think the custom playing card industry will go from here, and what innovations or changes might we see in the coming years?
Roughly ten years ago, I went on record saying most playing card innovation will focus on the tuck box. And that's what happened. We've seen a strong push re-popularizing vintage 'bells and whistles' that were famous in the 1970s. For instance, decks printed with metallic inks, extraordinary embossing, and tricked-out foiling have become vogue again.
Consequently, I believe the next ten years will usher in innovative improvements to stocks and finishes. We've satisfactorily tackled the aesthetic, now it's time to pioneer undiscovered tactile fronts. Companies like Expert Playing Card Co. and Cartamundi already lead the way. Cardistry, magic and card games also help drive innovation.
What can you tell us about the Lee Asher 605 Playing Cards, which you produced yourself?
As I mentioned earlier, my taste for European playing cards came early on. Because I lived in South Florida, you could find Fournier playing cards in certain shops. For those who don't know, this wonderful Spanish playing card company was founded back in 1868. In 1986, they merged with the US Playing Card Company. Now though, Cartamundi owns Fournier. Yet, Fournier continues to keep their unique style of printing which differentiates them from everyone else in the world.
When it came time to print a deck, I had several choices of manufacturers. Ultimately, I picked Fournier. Constant innovation, the desire to improve quality and their exquisite attention to detail makes Fournier a leading card manufacturer. These were my guys! My team worked with Fournier's art department. We scrapped our original thoughts and started to play with the Fournier 505 back design. It's beautiful and classical. We wanted to change it and put it to new use. Once out of pre-production, Fournier's art team dubbed these cards the 'Lee Asher 605 Signature Series'. It was great honor!
Printed on Fournier's best stock, my 605s are heavier and thicker than USPCC's casino-grade cards. Each deck of the 605 series is free of defects, and guarantees a precise slide due to the special varnish formula used. This varnish is exclusive of Fournier and follows a secret formula only known by two persons at the plant. At least, that's the story they told me.
This varnish gives Fournier cards their unique feeling and sliding ability. Plus it also adds to longer durability making them higher in quality than other cards on the market. Afterwards the card sheets dry in an oven and later, pressed. This process also gives the cards more resistance and durability.
Each deck goes through twelve (12) different quality controls along the manufacturing process. It ends in a final Intelligent Eye printing check and an optical infrared light test. This guarantees that each deck contains 55 cards. Unlike other manufacturers, all Fournier decks get cut one-by-one. This way, all cards (including the edges) have exactly the same size.
Without a doubt, you can feel a difference between my high-end 605 series decks and the ones produced in America.

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About collecting
You personally have a huge interest in learning about and collecting playing cards. When did this interest begin, and what got you started in collecting?
Again, my father is an avid collector of magic memorabilia and other stuff that reminds him of his childhood. So it's in my blood. I have no choice.
But the playing card side of my habit didn't become apparent until University. That's when I had hundreds of decks littering my dorm rooms and apartment. You'd walk in on any given Sunday and find Jerry's Nugget, Golden Nugget, Desert Inn, Arizona Charlie decks and other random casino cards strewn across the floors. Without a doubt, practicing sleight of hand and cardistry can be messy!
What are some of the reasons motivating people to collect playing cards?
As I mentioned earlier, playing cards speak to our own personalities and beliefs. That means there are many reasons why people collect them. But it usually distills down to two different personalities types: ● Type A - People who collect a specific category, image, artist, brand, feel, reason, etc. ● Type B - People who speculate for money.
Which type are you? The good news is, there's plenty of room for both. The playing card world is inclusive. Also, if you collect long enough, you'll find yourself selling decks to buy other cards. It's natural. Ignore the opportunity to feel ashamed of any capitalist tendencies along your journey.
What are some of the things you personally and especially enjoy about collecting playing cards?
I appreciate the back story. It started with casino decks because of their history. Now I cannot help but notice that during the past decade, my collecting tastes & sensibilities have become refined. What I was originally passionate about back then, now curiously finds itself in the company of other newly formed interests.
Conversely, if you told me back in the beginning that I would find great pleasure in hunting down antique private-die playing card stamps, the younger me would have laughed out loud at the notion. These days, however, I look forward to sharing my label collection with anyone interested in seeing it. I even revel in finding better versions of private-die playing card stamps I already own. Coincidentally, if you are in possession of that almighty Caterson, Brotz & Co. label, give me a call and we will speak.
Within the past several years, I’ve been connecting the dots between U.S. Patents, inventors/artists & the actual playing card products manufactured. I write a monthly article titled the PATENT FILES that should interest any researcher out there. Digging through Google’s digitized patent area has uncovered a real treasure-trove of playing card history & information.
Once again, if you asked the younger me about working on this kind of historical research, I would have scoffed, made several snarky comments and declined. Yet now, all I can do is get excited thinking about it. My, how times have changed.
How many decks would you estimate that you currently have in your personal collection?
Lots. But that means absolutely nothing. Heed the old saying, "quality over quantity". It's impossible to own every deck of cards ever produced. Yet, it's possible to own the best of all the cards produced.
How do you organize and display your collection of playing cards?
Usually, I like my collection sorted by antique, vintage and modern categories. But lately I've been lazy and unorganized, so everything is mixed and thrown together. One of these days, I'll take some time and put everything back into some semblance of order.
Consider me a user as much as I'm a collector. Without a doubt, I play with my cards. But at the same time, they also get shelved to stare at from a distance. Finding a balance between the two has its difficulties.
When it comes to showing off my cards, they aren't presented well; I've got display decks in Carat Cases and what not, but it could be better. My friend and fellow playing card collector, Jay McKinstry (a master craftsman/artisan), asked if he could make some beautiful displays for me. This guy is the Michelangelo of wood craft, and that would be a dream come true.
One of these days, with McKinstry's help, I look forward to everyone appreciating all the cool stuff I've collected over the years.
Do you have any special categories of decks that you focus on collecting, and what are your favourite types of decks to collect?
We can break down American playing card collecting into three categories. Are you a modern deck collector, or maybe you fancy yourself as an antique collector? Vintage? Not sure? The easiest way to tell is by the age of the decks you collect: ● You’re an antique collector if the majority of your deck collection pre-dates the 1930s. ● You’re a vintage collector if the majority of your deck collection dates from 1931 to 1995. ● You’re a modern collector if the majority of your deck collection dates from 1996 to today.
It seems, the more you learn about playing cards in general, the more interesting each category becomes.
While I consider myself a vintage card collector, I’m the proud owner of some wonderful antique decks as well as a plethora of modern decks. That makes me a hybrid playing card collector. Apparently, we're a growing breed!
What would the most valuable deck in your collection be, and what accounts for its value?
Everybody is quick to speak about value, but no one ever discusses the worth of sentiments. What's my first European deck valued at on eBay? Maybe $5? $10? For me, it's priceless. So assigning value to my collection is much tougher than it looks. At least, for me. Maybe you feel the same way?
Where can we learn about grading and dating older decks of playing cards?
Pick up a copy of the Hochman Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards by Tom and Judy Dawson. This is the best resource on collecting American playing cards, ever written. They took all of long-time collector Eugene Hochman's research, and compiled it into one big volume. In those pages you'll find discussion about grading and dating your playing cards.
On a side note, if you Google search for info about dating and/or grading your deck, you'll find a bunch of articles relating to these topics. Most, if not all, of this info comes from the Hochman Encyclopedia and/or Tom and Judy Dawson. For instance, here are two links that cover the topics at hand: ● How To Date Your Playing CardsHow To Grade Your Playing Cards
I'm a new collector. Should I go out and buy a deck of 1970s authentic Jerry's Nuggets right away?
LOL! If you love collecting vintage casino decks, then sure. If you're speculating, buy as many as you can. But if you hear these sentiments and feel they're not applicable to you, then I'd suggest spending your money elsewhere. Like I said before, this is a personal journey. Take the time and discover something new about yourself. Collect what you think is worthy of collecting.

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The 52 Plus Joker collectors club
How and when did the 52 Plus Joker come about?
In 1985, 52 Plus Joker formed to cater to the interests of American antique playing card collectors. We have long since broadened the scope of the club to include collecting playing cards of all sorts, from around the world. With the internet spurring the recent surge of interest in playing cards; geographical and categorical lines blur daily.
52 Plus Joker community facilitates: ● The collection and trading of antique, vintage and modern collectible playing cards and related items, ● The advancement of knowledge about the history, manufacture and artistic aspect of playing cards, ● The promotion of fellowship among members with similar interests.
52 Plus Joker welcomes you whether you're an experienced collector or newcomer to the world of playing card collecting. If you want more info or would like to join 52 Plus Joker, please visit their official website. For the record, it's the best $25 USD I spend all year long!
In your experience, what have you found to be some of the benefits of being part of a playing card organization like 52 Plus Joker?
52 Plus Joker Club membership provides a wide variety of benefits, including: ● Attend our annual playing card convention. A unique experience unlike any other. ● Auctions of collectible, unusual and rare decks throughout the year. ● Quarterly printed magazine 'Clear The Decks'. Broaden your playing card horizons. ● Monthly digital magazine 'CARD CULTURE'. Delve deep into playing card life. ● Inclusion within 52 Plus Joker's membership roster. Meet like-minded individuals. ● Access to the Ask Alexander database of all our archives. ● Personal club account on the world’s largest Playing Card Forum. ● Plus more!
When did you first get involved with 52 Plus Joker, and how would you describe what your role as President involves?
This will be my 10th year involved with 52 Plus Joker. I found them back in 2009. By chance, I stumbled upon an online advertisement for the combined 52 Plus Joker / International Playing Card Society convention in Toronto, Canada. Twenty-four hours after registering, my phone rang with the caller ID - THOMAS DAWSON! I already owned a copy of the Hochman Encyclopedia and knew who Tom Dawson was. I became star-struck that a luminary like him would call a neophyte like me.
Turns out he and his wife, Judy, lived in Toronto, too. As soon as Tom spoke, it felt like we were old friends. Within minutes, I he gave me an invitation to come over and see their playing card collection. I’ll never forget that moment. Receiving an invitation was an honor back then and it’s still an honor to reminisce about it now. For Tom though, he was simply acting like a playing card ambassador. There could not have had been a better welcoming committee to 52 Plus Joker.
About a week later, I attended the club's annual convention. WOW! I'd never seen so many unfamiliar decks of cards in my life. I had so much to learn. At one point, Judy Dawson remarked how the club could use a little more youth. She thought young people had little interest in collecting playing cards. Her comment was confusing. Was she unaware of the massive explosion of custom card collecting online? Apparently. Actually, 95% of the club had no idea. Quickly thinking on my feet, I requested some day passes. I blurted out that I could convince ten playing card collectors under the age of 30 to show up on the final day of the convention. Some members of 52 thought I was crazy. Judy was hopeful, but placed little faith in it.
To make a long story short, ten playing card collectors under the age of 30 turned up on the last day of the convention. Obviously, it wasn't hard. This club had yet to introduce themselves to the new generation of card collectors. With my help, that was about to change. I was unanimously voted onto 52 Plus Joker's executive board. They made me 'Head of Publicity'.
That was ten years ago. Since then, I've risen through the ranks. In 2016, I became the youngest president in the club’s existence. Without a doubt, our playing card future illuminates with great opportunity. It’s my pleasure to lead us into this bright light.
What can you tell us about the annual 52 Plus Joker decks?
Of course! I'd love to brag about this. Each year, we ask the some of the greatest playing card designers in the world to craft a club deck. Incredible artists like Jackson Robinson, Paul Carpenter, Mark Stutzman, Alexander Chin and Randy Butterfield have the distinct honor of creating masterpieces for us. Without a doubt, we’re the luckiest club on the planet to work with such amazing talent.
For our 2019 deck, we picked one of Europe's finest playing card designers, Lotrek. He says he’s working on a special deck that’s sure to knock our socks off. Lotrek is a man of his word and we all look forward to what he creates.
If you want to see and own this year's club deck, we release it every year at our annual convention. It's one of the highlights of our entire event.
Each year the club hosts a convention. When is this and what is it about?
We held this year's convention in Charlotte, North Carolina on October 9th - October 12th, 2019. It's a chance to meet legendary collectors & designers, hobnob with premier card manufacturers, and talk decks with other enthusiasts all night long. There's nothing like it in the world.
For more information or if you want to join us at future conventions, please visit here.
What can you tell us about the CARD CULTURE magazine that you are the editor of?
CARD CULTURE was my answer to satisfy the digital end of our membership. Plus, it allowed us to connect with members on a monthly basis. After pitching the idea to Tom Dawson (who was the President at the time), I enlisted Don Boyer as the editor in chief. We also managed to wrangle a handful of writers for monthly articles.
On the 15th of each month, CARD CULTURE gets delivered to your email inbox [sample issue]. Most of our membership consumes it on their tablets or phones. Though, we offer it at a high resolution so you can print it, if you want a hard copy. We try our hardest to impress you on a monthly basis.
Don ran the show up until the 25th issue. After his departure, I took over. In May, we published our 52nd issue!

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Final thoughts
Is there anything else you'd like to share about collecting playing cards, or about playing cards?
The playing card world constantly changes. For instance, European card manufacturer Cartamundi purchased United States Playing Card Company. I made a video about it if anyone cares to hear me rant about playing cards: Lee Asher on USPCC's Merger With Cartamundi
We're living in fascinating times, and I look forward to what our future brings! Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts about playing cards, EndersGame.
If anyone reading this wants to continue the conversation, please email me at [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]). I'm always interested in meeting other fellow magicians, playing card collectors and enthusiasts. Speak soon.

Conclusion

Lee Asher certainly has a lot to offer and share when it comes to playing cards, and I for one are very grateful that he was willing to do this interview. He has a wealth of knowledge, and his insights are helpful, and his enthusiasm is infectious. If you haven't yet seen it, I highly recommend listening to him talk about Cartamundi's recent acquisition of USPCC [link] - it's obvious that he's knowledgeable and passionate, and you'll learn some fascinating things from what Lee has to say.
Collectors in the United States will also appreciate learning more about the 52 Plus Joker club. If you're really keen, you may even want to attend the annual convention in October. Certainly take a look at what they offer, including the very interesting Card Culture magazine.
Once again a huge thank you to Lee Asher for conducting this interview - I know I've learned a lot, and enjoyed hearing what he had to say. Lee's enthusiasm for playing cards is something that many of us around the world share, and I'm sure I'm not the only one that sees somewhat of a kindred spirit, with our shared love for playing cards.
Where to learn more?Official website for Lee AsherLee Asher 605 Playing CardsLee Asher's articles on magic and playing cardsOfficial website for the 52 Plus Joker American Playing Card Collectors ClubThe Annual 52 Plus Joker ConventionCard Culture sample issue

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Author's note: I first published this article at PlayingCardDecks.com here.
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The OSL Possibilities List...with Notes!

So I combed through the list looking at tour schedules for everybody and marking down when they were playing in the greater Bay Area and what their other tour dates were around OSL. All of that is listed below, but doesn't include musical artists that were suggested by other users but were not playing any of the other tracked festivals.
While the official prediction game is over, feel free to make further predictions in this thread, armed with the tour knowledge listed.
Possibilities:
Headliners:
Adele (no upcoming dates, rumored that she'll never tour again)
Billy Joel (no dates between August 8th in Denver and August 26th in Baltimore)
Bjork (no dates after May 6th-June 1st multimedia show residency in NY)
Bruce Springsteen (no upcoming dates and stated on Twitter that there would be no 2019 tour)
Cher (no dates between May 30th in Vancouver and August 21st in Vegas that is part of her Vegas residency)
Childish Gambino (no dates after June 14th in Tennessee)
Coldplay (no upcoming dates)
Daft Punk (no upcoming dates)
Depeche Mode (no dates after March 29th in Spain)
Diana Ross (no dates after July 22nd in Colorado, has Vegas residency in June)
Drake (no dates after April 26th in the Netherlands, no U.S. dates)
Eagles (no dates after July 8th in Ireland, no U.S. dates)
Eminem (no upcoming dates)
Eric Clapton (no dates after June 10th in Germany, no U.S. dates)
Foo Fighters (no dates between June 29th in Sweden and August 13th in Hungary)
Frank Ocean (no upcoming dates)
Green Day (no upcoming dates)
Guns N Roses (no upcoming dates)
Gwen Stefani (only Vegas residency dates with break between July 26th and October 11th)
Jay-Z (no dates other than Woodstock 50 weekend after OSL)
Kanye West (no upcoming dates)
Kendrick Lamar (no dates after April 7th in Chile, no U.S. dates)
Kids See Ghosts (no upcoming dates, but tour rumored)
Lady Gaga (only Vegas residency dates with break between June 15th and October 17th)
Madonna (no upcoming dates)
Maroon 5 (no dates between June 11th in France and August 31st in Curacao, no U.S. dates)
Miley Cyrus (no dates between June 30th in UK and August 16th at Woodstock 50)
Missy Elliott (no dates after July 5th in New Orleans)
Nicki Minaj (no dates after June 21st in L.A.)
Pearl Jam (no dates between July 6th in UK and September 28th in Dana Point, CA)
Phish (no dates between July 14th in Wisconsin and August 30th in Colorado)
Red Hot Chili Peppers (no dates before August 16th in Japan)
Robert Plant (no dates after July 2nd in Norway, no U.S dates)
Rod Stewart (no dates between July 13th in UK and Vegas residency beginning September 18th)
Roger Waters (no upcoming shows)
Sting (no dates between August 1st in France and August 23rd in Illinois)
The Strokes (no dates between July 21st in France and September 27th in Dana Point, CA)
Tool (no dates after July 2nd in Portugal)
Travis Scott (no dates after July 13th in Switzerland)
Twenty One Pilots (no dates between July 21st in France and August 13th in Hungary)
U2 (no upcoming shows and Bono said cryptic message at last 2018 show that they were "going away now")
7 Tracked Festivals:
King Princess (plays Fillmore April 22, no dates listed past July 28th in Detroit)
4 Tracked Festivals:
Chelsea Cutler (plays Fillmore March 22, no dates listed past April 3rd)
Clairo (plays Pitchfork in Chicago July 21st then Reading UK festival August 23rd)
Denzel Curry (plays Bill Graham Civic opening for Billie Eilish on May 29th, plays Seattle on July 19th then August 16th in Netherlands)
Easy Life (no dates after August 3rd in UK)
Playboi Carti (no dates after June 1st in NY)
Sheck Wes (playing in Montreal on August 9th or 10th)
3 Tracked Festivals
070 Shake (no dates after June 2nd in Spain)
The Band Camino (plays July 14th in Kentucky then September 7th in Tennessee)
Bazzi (no dates after June 2nd in NY)
Bob Moses (plays July 13th in Portugal then August 17th in Utah)
Brockhampton (plays July 14th in Netherlands then August 17th in Japan)
Caamp (no dates after August 2nd in Portland)
Dennis Lloyd (plays Great American Music Hall on April 11th, no dates after June 30th in Switzerland)
Gucci Mane (no dates after June 23rd in Delaware)
Hippo Campus (no dates after August 2nd in Iowa)
Hop Along (plays The Independent on April 18-19, no dates after July 12 in Kentucky)
Hozier (no dates after April 14th in Spokane)
Kacey Musgraves (plays August 2nd in Iowa then August 24th in Paso Robles, CA)
Ravyn Lenae (no dates after June 2nd in NY)
Shame (plays The New Parish in Oakland on April 23rd, no dates after July 14th in Finland)
Taylor Bennett (no dates after June 2nd in NY)
Two Feet (no dates after June 23rd in Delaware)
Unknown Mortal Orchestra (plays the Greek Theatre on April 19th, no dates past July 26th in Japan)
Walk the Moon (no dates past June 23rd in Delaware)
2 Tracked Festivals:
Alison Wonderland (plays July 21st in Paris then August 15th in Austria)
Blood Orange (no dates after June 3rd in Maryland)
Calpurnia (no dates after July 14th in Kentucky
Castlecomer (no dates after June 21st in Delaware)
Cautious Clay (no dates after June 15th in Norway)
Crooked Colours (no dates after July 21st in Washington)
Diplo (plays August 1st in Minnesota then August 23rd in Netherlands)
Ella Mai (plays The Fox in Oakland on April 23rd, no dates after May 22nd in Tennessee)
Evan Giia (no dates after July 19th in Washington)
Flora Cash (plays August Hall in SF on May 22nd as opening act, no dates after June 21st in Michigan)
Flipp Dinero (no dates after June 21st in Delaware)
Gesaffelstein (no dates after June 2nd in NY)
Gorgon City (plays the Regency Ballroom on April 17th, no dates after July 27th in UK)
Gunna (plays the Fillmore on April 7th as opening act, no dates after July 15th in Croatia
The Interrupters (plays the Regency Ballroom on March 14th, no dates after June 30th in Spain)
J.I.D. (no shows after July 28th in Michigan)
Jpegmafia (plays the Warfield on March 28th as opening act, no dates after July 21st in Chicago)
Judah and the Lion (plays July 26th in Germany, August 10th in Missouri, and August 13th in Colorado)
Khalid (plays July 6th in Canada then September 7th in Germany)
Kid Cudi (no dates after May 10th in Miami)
Kygo (no dates after July 9th in Canada)
Lauren Daigle (plays July 31st in Michigan then August 10th in Portland and August 11th in Vancouver)
Let's Eat Grandma (plays the Chapel on April 18th, plays August 8th in Italy then August 29th in UK)
Lil Mosey (no dates after May 24th in Vegas)
Lil Wayne (no dates after June 21st in Los Angeles)
The Lumineers (play July 29th in Denmark then September 21st in New Jersey)
Mansionair (no dates after June 27th in MIchigan)
Medasin (play July 19 in Washington then September 12th in Colorado)
Mura Masa (play June 9th in UK then August 22nd in UK)
Nghtmre (no dates after July 21st in Germany)
Nora en Pure (no dates after July 14th in Germany)
The Nude Party (play the Great American Music Hall on April 25th, no dates after May 10th in UK)
The Record Company (play the Ace of Spades in Sacramento on June 5th, play July 14th in Massachusetts then August 17th in Montana)
Ric Wilson (no dates after July 21st in Chicago)
Ripe (play July 14th in Massachusetts then September 21st in New Jersey)
Rubblebucket (play the Cornerstone in Berkeley on March 28th, no dates after June 22nd in Delaware)
Sales (no dates after April 27 at August Hall in SF)
Shaed (play March 15th at Rickshaw Stop in SF, no dates after June 29th in Denver)
Snakehips (no dates after July 14th in NY)
Soccer Mommy (plays the Great American Music Hall on April 17th and 18th and Bill Graham Civic as opener on October 1st, play July 21st in Chicago then September 25th in Canada)
Still Woozy (play the Catalyst in Santa Cruz, no dates after July 21st in Washington)
Sunflower Bean (play July 26-28 in UK then August 11th in Toronto)
Tank and the Bangas (no dates after June 22nd in Delaware)
Tobi Lou (no dates after June 2nd in NY)
Tyla Yaweh (no dates after June 14th in Tennessee)
Tyler the Creator (no dates after June 21st in Delaware)
U.S. Girls (no dates after July 14th in Canada)
Wallows (play the Fillmore on April 26th and 27th, no dates after July 28th in Detroit)
Yellow Days (play July 27th in Michigan then August 14-17 in Portugal)
Zhu (play Shambhala Music Fest in British Columbia same weekend as OSL)
1 Tracked Festival:
10K.Caash (no dates after May 12 in Florida)
12th Planet (play March 16th at Regency Ballroom, no dates after March 30th in Arizona)
21 Savage (no dates after May 4th in Kansas)
3lau (play March 15th at Pure Nightclub in Sunnyvale, no dates after June 23rd in Delaware)
4B (play March 30th at Bill Graham Civic as opener, no dates after July 21st in Germany)
88Glam (no dates after April 21st at Coachella)
A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie (play April 4th at The Fillmore, no dates after April 11th in Massachusetts)
Aaron Aye (no dates after May 31st in NY)
Adia Victoria (no dates between May 26th in Massachusetts and September 21st in Tennessee)
Agoria (play Dreambeach Festival in Spain August 7th to 11th, but unclear what day he may be playing on)
All Them Witches (no dates after June 22nd in Switzerland)
Amber Mark (no dates after July 19th in Chicago)
Ame (no dates after July 21st in Spain)
Andrew McMahon (play March 21st at Fox in Oakland, no dates after June 22 in Delaware)
Anna Lunoe (no shows after July 19th in Indonesia)
Anoushka Shankar (no shows after June 14th in Tennessee)
Aphex Twin (no shows between April 21st at Coachella and August 25th in Paris)
Arkells (play March 27th at Cornerstone in Berkeley, no dates after July 27th in UK)
The Artisanals (no dates after July 14th in Kentucky)
Asian Doll (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
Awolnation (no dates after June 23rd in Delaware)
BabyG (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Baby Goth (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
Bakar (no dates after May 4th in UK)
Bassnectar (no dates after July 20th in Pennsylvania)
Bblasian (no dates after July 13th in Kentucky)
Beach Fossils (no dates after May 3rd in Arizona)
Beach House (playing Bellwether Festival in Ohio on August 9th or 10th)
Beau Young Prince (play March 22nd at The Warfield as opener, no dates after March 23rd in Hollywood)
Bebe Rexha (no dates after May 19th in Alabama)
Bendigo Fletcher (no dates after July 14th in Kentucky)
Big Baby Scumbag (no dates after May 10th in Miami)
Big Red Machine (no dates after June 2nd in Spain)
Big Wild (no dates after July 21st in Washington)
Blaatina (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
Blac Youngsta (no dates after May 24th in Maryland)
BlackPink (no dates between May 28th in Spain and August 16th in Japan)
Blond:ish (no dates after July 7th in Belgium)
Bloodpop (no dates after June 23rd in Delaware)
Blueface (play March 19th at Warfield as Opener and June 28th at Ace of Spades in Sacramento, no dates after that)
Boa (no dates after April 20th in Indiana)
Bombino (play March 27th at the Independent, no dates after June 23rd at San Luis Obispo)
Bones (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Boy Pablo (no dates between July 10th in Norway and August 12th in France)
Brianna Perry (no dates after May 10th in Miami)
Bruno Mali (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
Bryce Vine (no dates after 19th in Alabama)
Buddy (play March 23rd at Harlow's in Sacramento, no dates after July 13th in UK)
Bumpin Uglies (play April 27th at Bottom of the Hill in SF, play Freakstomp Festival in Ohio same weekend as OSL, but not sure which day)
Burna Boy (play April 17th at Slim's, no dates after August 4th in Portugal)
Calypso Rose (no dates after July 13th in Slovakia)
CamelPhat (no dates between July 5th in Croatia and August 22nd in UK)
Car Seat Headrest (no dates between July 3rd in Nebraska and August 11th in L.A. as opener)
Carly Johnson (no dates after July 14th in Kentucky)
Caroline Rose (no dates between August 9th in Ohio and August 15th in Colorado)
Catfish and the Bottlemen (play March 23rd at Fox in Oakland, no dates between August 3rd in Ireland and August 12th in Hungary)
Charli XCX (no dates between July 21st in Chicago and August 22nd in UK)
Charlotte Gainsbourg (play April 15th at The Regency, no dates after July 26th in France)
Cherry Glazerr (no dates after July 14th in Tennessee)
Chief Keef (no dates after May 8th in North Carolina)
Chief Pound (no dates after May 10th in Miami)
Chon (no dates after May 4th in Georgia)
Chris Lake (no dates after May 17th in North Carolina)
CID (no dates after August 3rd in Calgary, Canada)
Cirez D (no dates after April 21st at Coachella)
City Girls (play March 19th at the Warfield as opener, no dates after July 14th in NY)
City Morgue (no dates after May 10th in Miami)
CloZee (no dates between August 3rd in Colorado and August 13th in Italy)
Coca Vango (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
Coi Leray (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
Cola Boyy (play April 18th at Rickshaw Stop in SF between Coachella weekends, no dates after June 27th in Michigan)
Comethazine (no dates between May 11th in Miami and August 23rd in UK)
Craig Brown Band (no dates after July 28th in Michigan)
CVBZ (no dates after June 27th in Michigan)
D Savage (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
DaniLeigh (no dates after July 14th in NY)
Danny Towers (no dates after May 10th in Miami)
Dashboard Confessional (no dates after June 23rd in Delaware)
Dave P (no dates after April 19th at Coachella)
Deafheaven (play March 16th at UC Theater in Berkeley, no dates between June 14th in Tennessee and August 17th in Vegas)
Deal Casino (play March 25th at Cornerstone in Berkeley, no dates after May 31st in NY)
Death Cab for Cutie (no dates between July 27th in Japan and August 11th in L.A.)
Deep Dish (no dates after May 25th in Greece)
Dessa (play May 24th at Bottlerock, no dates after June 1st in Vegas)
Deva Mahal (no dates between June 22nd in NY and August 25th in Virginia)
Dillon Francis (no dates after April 21st at Coachella)
DJ Mel (no dates after June 16th in Tennessee)
DMX (play April 21st at UC Theater in Berkeley, no dates after July 27th in Long Beach)
Dombresky (play March 22nd at 1015 Folsom in SF, no dates after June 16th in Tennessee)
Donna Missal (play March 26th at The Independent in SF, no dates after June 13th in Tennessee)
The Doozers (no dates after July 28th in Michigan)
Dorfex Bos (no dates after June 30th in Michigan)
Dr. Fresch (no dates after June 30th in Michigan)
Dragondeer (no dates after June 30th in Michigan)
Ducky (no dates after June 14th in Tennessee)
Dusky (play April 13th at The Great Northern in SF, no dates after June 25th in Albania)
dvsn (no dates after April 19th at Coachella)
Ekali (no dates between July 20th in Pennsylvania and September 12th in Colorado)
Elley Duhe (no dates after May 26th at Bottlerock)
Emily King (no dates after May 5th in NY)
Emo Nite (play March 30th at Rickshaw Stop in SF, no dates after July 26th in NY)
Eprom (no dates after July 18th in Montreal)
Eric Biddines (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
Erin Rae (no dates between July 14th in Kentucky and September 27th in SoCal)
Evan Giia (no dates after July 19th in Washington)
Faye Webster (play April 5th at Cafe du Nord in SF, no dates after June 16th in Tennessee)
Fendi P (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
First Aid Kit (no dates after July 14th in Kentucky)
FKJ (play April 10th-11th at The Warfield, no dates between July 12th in UK and August 16th in UK)
Freddie Gibbs (play May 5th at Brick & Mortar in SF, no dates after July 21st in Chicago)
The Frights (no dates after May 24th at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz)
G Herbo (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
The Garden (no dates after April 20th at Coachella)
GASHI ( no dates after July 9th in Canada)
Gat$ (no dates after May 12 in Miami)
Gojira (play July 26th at Shoreline as opener), no dates between August 8th in Nebraska and August 11th in Illinois)
Goldlink (no dates after May 10th in Miami)
Go$h (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
Goth Babe (no dates after July 28th in Michigan)
Gramatik (no dates between August 3rd in Washington and September 7th in Germany)
Grandson (play April 3rd at Slim's, no dates after May 19th in Alabama)
Great Good Fine OK (no dates after June 1st in Ohio)
Greta Van Fleet (no dates between July 13th in Spain and September 3rd in Australia)
Grizfolk (play March 21st at Fox in Oakland as opener, no dates after March 24th in San Diego)
Grlwood (no dates after July 12th in Kentucky)
Grownboitrap (no dates after May 10th in Miami)
Guapdad 4000 (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Gucci Gang (no dates after April 21st at Coachella)
Gus Dapperton (no dates after August 1st in Austria)
Guster (no dates after May 26th in Boston)
Guy Gerber (no dates after July 13th in UK)
Half Alive (no dates between June 21st in Delaware and September 13th in L.A.)
Heidi Lawden (no dates after August 3rd in UK)
Hekler (no dates after July 9th in Ontario)
H.E.R. (no dates after July 13th in UK)
Highly Suspect (no dates after July 12th in Kentucky)
The Him (no dates between May 19th in Alabama and August 17th in Austria)
Hippie Sabotage (no dates after June 19th in Colorado)
Hot Since 82 (no dates between May 27th in Michigan and August 17th in UK)
Hundredth (no dates after June 29th in Netherlands)
Hurray For the Riff Raff (no dates after April 27th in New Orleans)
HYUKOH (no dates after July 14th in UK)
Ibeyi (no dates after July 26th in France)
Ice Billion Berg (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Iceage (play April 23rd at the New Parish, no dates after May 7th in Chicago
Idris Elba (no dates after April 20th at Coachella)
Iglooghost (no dates after May 31st in Spain)
Ilovemakonnen (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Indigochildrick (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
Israel Nash (no dates between July 13th in Kentucky and August 24th in New Hampshire)
J Balvin (no dates between July 23rd in Spain and August 16th in Mexico)
Jade Bird (play June 8th at Greek Theater as opener, no dates between August 4th in Iowa and August 23rd in UK)
Jade Cicada (no dates after June 14th in Tennessee)
Jaden Smith (no dates after April 28th in Virginia)
Jambinai (no dates after June 8th in Portugal)
Jan Blomqvist (no dates after July 13th in Germany)
Javiera Mena (no dates after May 17th in Spain)
Jauz (no dates between August 5th in Toronto and August 10th in Vegas and August 11th in Phoenix)
Jaydayoungan (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Jeremy Zucker (no dates between June 1st in Cincinnati and August 22nd in UK)
Jesse Royal (no dates after May 26th in Monterey)
Jim James (no dates after July 7th in Quincy, CA)
Jonas Blue (no dates between July 21st in France and August 24th in UK)
Jony J (no dates after May 10th in Miami)
Joywave (no dates after June 22nd in Delaware)
Jukebox the Ghost (no dates after June 2nd in Ohio)
Justin Jay (no dates after May 19th in Alabama)
Kash Doll (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Kevin Gates (no dates after July 31st in Virginia)
The Kid Laroi (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Kid Quill (no dates after June 30th in Michigan)
Kid Trunks (no dates after May 31st in Belgium)
Killumantii (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Killy (no dates after July 11th in Netherlands)
Kilo Kish (play March 23rd at Regency Ballroom, no dates after May 26th in Boston)
King Henry (no dates after June 23rd in Delaware)
KirbLaGoop (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
The Knocks (no dates after June 29th in Denver)
Knower (no dates after June 27th in Michigan)
Kodak Black (play March 23rd at The Warfield, no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Kolsch (no dates between July 14th in Belgium and August 17th in Netherlands)
Lancey Foux (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
Las Cafeteras (no dates after August 3rd in L.A.)
Las Robertas (no dates after April 19th at Coachella)
Lauren Lane (no dates after April 19th at Coachella)
Lee Burridge (no dates after June 8th in Netherlands)
Leebrian (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Leikeli47 (play April 16th at the New Parish in Oakland, no dates after July 11th in Ottawa)
Lettuce (play March 21-24 at SF Jazz Center, play Telluride Jazz Fest in Colorado on August 9th, 10th ,or 11th)
Lightskinkeisha (no shows after May 11th in Miami)
Lil Baby (play March 18 at Fox in Oakland and March 19 at Warfield, no dates between July 14th in NY and August 22nd in UK)
Lil Berete (no dates after May 18th in Montreal)
Lil Dicky (no dates after June 16th in Tennessee)
Lil Duke (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Lil Durk (no dates after May 10th in Miami)
Lil Gotit (no dates after May 10th in Miami)
Lil Keed (play April 7th at Fillmore as opener, no dates after May 16th in Atlanta)
Lil Pump (play April 26th at Warfield, play August 9th or 10th in Montreal)
Lil Skies (play April 26th at Warfield, no dates after July 7th in UK)
Lil Tjay (no dates after May 10th in Miami)
Lil Uzi Vert (no dates between July 20th in Spain and August 22nd in UK)
Lil Yachty (no dates after July 6th in Vancouver)
Lily Allen (no dates after June 16th in UK)
Liquid Stranger (play March 15th at Slim's, no dates after June 13th in Tennessee)
Lolo Zouai (play May 14th at Rickshaw Stop in SF, no dates after July 14th in NY)
The Lonely Island (no dates after June 29th in Minnesota)
Los Tucanes de Tijuana (no dates after June 13th in Mexico)
Lostboycrow (no dates after June 23rd in Delaware)
Loud Luxury (no dates between August 2nd in Vegas and August 22nd in UK)
Lucius (play April 25th at Great American Music Hall and September 21st & 22nd at Greek as opener, no dates between August 4th in Oregon and Greek gigs)
Lykke Li (no dates after July 13th in UK)
Madeintyo (no dates after July 13 in Germany)
Magic City Hippies (play May 25th at Bottlerock, no dates after July 28th in Pennsylvania)
Magic Giant (no dates between June 23rd in Delaware and September 26th in Mendocino)
The Main Squeeze (no dates after August 3rd in Colorado)
Maliibu MItch (no dates after May 10th in Miami)
Manu Crooks (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Maren Morris (play March 26th at The Masonic, no dates between August 8th in Canada and August 16th in New Zealand)
The Marias (no dates after July 13th in Kentucky)
Matt Ox (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
MAX (no dates after June 22nd in Delaware)
Megan Thee Stallion (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
Melii (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
MEMBA (no dates after August 4th in Colorado)
Members Only (no dates after May 31st in Belgium)
Men I Trust (no dates after July 21st in Michigan)
Mersiv (no dates after July 18th in Pennsylvania)
The Messenger Birds (no dates after July 27th in Detroit)
The Messthetics (play April 22nd at The Chapel in SF, no dates after June 26th in Vancouver)
Migos (no dates after July 21st in France)
Miles Kane (no dates between July 28th in UK and August 30th in Ireland)
MKUltra (no dates after June 2nd in NY)
MO (no dates after July 21st in UK)
Mo Lowda and the Humble (play August 9th, 10th,and 17th in Colorado)
Monsieur Perine (no dates after June 14th in Tennessee)
Moon Boots (no dates after June 23rd in Albania)
Moon Taxi (no dates between July 20th in Maine and September 7th in Tennessee)
Morgxn (no dates after July 27th in Houston)
Mr Eazi (play April 21st at the Regency Ballroom, no dates between June 30th in the Netherlands and November 13th in UK)
Mt. Joy (play March 30th at the Fillmore, no dates between April 7th in San Diego and September 27th in Dana Point, CA)
Mulatto (no dates after May 10th in Miami)
Naeem (no dates after May 24th in Boston)
Nahko and Medicine for the People (play May 26th in Monterey, no dates between August 6th in Montana and August 25th in Virginia)
Naked Giants (play May 24th at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz, no dates after July 13th in the Netherlands)
NAS (no dates after July 14th in Virginia)
Nate Dae (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Nessly (no dates after May 24th in Georgia)
Nic Fanciulli (no dates after July 7th in Italy)
NIcole Moudaber (play April 6th at The Midway in SF, plays August 9th or 10th in Montreal)
Njomza (no dates after May 31st in NY)
Nocturnal Sunshine (no dates after April 21st at Coachella)
Nombe (no dates after June 23rd in Delaware)
Ocho Ojos (no dates after April 21st at Coachella and October 10th at Joshua Tree)
Ookay (play August 10th in Vegas, not playing anywhere August 9th or 11th)
The Orphan The Poet (no dates after June 23rd in Delaware)
Otown Marco (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Pardison Fontaine (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
Parquet Courts (no dates between July 21st in Chicago and August 29th in UK)
Party Pupils (play March 28th at 1015 Folsom in SF, no dates after July 6th in Hollywood)
Patrice Baumel (play August 9th, 10th, or 11th at We Can Dance festival in Belgium)
Peach Pit (no dates after July 21st in Washington)
Penny & Sparrow (play June 28th at the Fox Theater in Oakland as opener, no dates between July 14th in Kentucky and September 7th in Tennessee)
Perfume (play April 17th at Civic in San Jose, no dates after April 21st at Coachella)
Phosphorescent (no dates between June 22nd in Delaware and September 21st in Tennessee)
Phresher (no dates after May 10th in Miami)
PJ Morton (no dates after July 13th in Kentucky)
PLS&TY (no dates after June 27th in Michigan)
PNB Rock (no dates after May 10th in Miami)
Polo and Pan (no dates between June 28th in France and August 24th in France)
Polo G (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Princess Nokia (no dates between July 13th in Spain and September 7th in Germany)
Pusha T (no dates after July 21st in Chicago)
Quando Rondo (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
Queen Key (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
Rackz God (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Rae Sremmurd (no dates after July 19th in Indonesia)
Rakeem Miles (no dates after July 22nd in Delaware)
Rat Boy (no dates after July 28th in UK)
Razorbumps (no dates after April 21st at Coachella)
The Red Clay Strays (no dates after May 17th in Alabama)
The Red Pears (no dates after April 20th at Coachella)
Rich the Kid (play March 30th at the Warfield, no dates after July 13th in Germany)
Richy Samo (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
Rick Ross (no dates after May 10th in Miami)
Rico Nasty (no dates after June 2nd in Spain)
Rival Sons (play May 7th at The Fillmore, no dates after August 1st in Norway)
RL Grime (no dates after July 19th in Seattle)
Rob Markman (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Robb Banks (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
Rod Wave (no dates after May 10th in Miami)
Rosalia (no dates after July 11th in Spain)
Ross From Friends (play April 21st at The Independent in SF, no dates after July 21st in Germany)
Ruen Brothers (no dates after July 14th in Kentucky)
Ruston Kelly (no dates between August 4th in Iowa and November 11th in Dominican Replublic)
SAINt JHN (no dates between July 13th in Germany and August 22nd in UK)
Saweetie (no dates after July 26th in Nebraska)
serpentwithfeet (no dates between April 21st at Coachella and August 29th in UK)
Shallou (play April 26th at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz, no dates after July 21st in Seattle)
Shlump (play March 16th at the Regency Ballroom, no dates after August 4th in Calgary)
Shoreline Mafia (no dates after May 24th in Albuquerque)
Sidney Gish (no dates after June 14th in UK)
Siena Liggins (no dates after July 27th in Detroit)
Sir (no dates after April 21st at Coachella)
Ski Mask the Slump God (play April 30th at Bill Graham Civic, no dates after July 7th in UK)
Slenderbodies (no dates after May 19th in Houston)
Smino (play April 9th at the Fillmore and April 14th at the Regency Ballroom, no dates after May 9 in Boston)
SNBRN (play March 23rd at August Hall in SF, no dates after June 30 in Michigan)
Social House (play May 2nd at SAP Center as opener and May 3rd at Golden One Center as opener, no dates after July 13th in Utah)
SoDown (no dates after August 2nd in Washington)
Soja (play June 19th at Mountain Winery in Saratoga as opener, no dates after July 21st in North Carolina)
Sophie (no dates after June 8th in Portugal)
Soulja Boy (no dates after June 25th in Chicago)
Soulection (no dates after May 13th in Bakersfield)
Space Jam the Pilot (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Space Jesus (play April 5th at the UC Theater in Berkeley, no dates after July 22nd in Montreal)
Spaceghostpurrp (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Spazz Cardigan (no dates after July 12th in Kentucky)
Spencer Ludwig (no dates after June 28th in NY)
Splash Zanotti (no dates after May 10th in Miami)
Splurge (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
Steady Holiday (no dates after April 20th at Coachella)
$uicideboy$ (no dates after July 21st in France)
Sunsquabi (no dates after August 2nd in Colorado)
Suzi Wu (no dates after June 1st in NY)
Sweater Beats (no dates after June 21st in Delaware)
Sylvan Lacue (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
SZA (no dates after June 2nd in NY)
Tale of Us (play April 19th at 1015 Folsom club in SF, no dates between July 14th in Belgium and August 17th in the Netherlands)
Tara Brooks (no dates after April 21st at Coachella)
Tee Grizzley (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
ThouxanbanFauni (play March 29th at the Complex in Oakland, no dates after May 12th in Miami)
Thumpasaurus (no dates after June 27th in Michigan)
Tierra Whack (no dates after June 27th in Michigan)
Tiny Moving Parts (no dates after June 28th in Michigan)
Tokimonsta (no dates after July 18th in UK)
Tokyo Jetz (no dates after May 10th in Miami)
Tomasa Del Real (no dates after April 21st at Coachella)
Trampled by Turtles (play August 10th in Washington, not playing August 9th or 11th anywhere)
Trippee Redd (no dates after July 13th in Germany)
Tund3 (no dates after May 10th in Miami)
Turnover (play April 23rd at the Regency Ballroom, no dates after June 1st in Japan)
Two Friends (no dates after June 15th in Washington)
T.Y. (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
Ty Dolla $ign (no dates after June 1st in NY)
Ty Segall (no dates after April 21st at Coachella)
Tyga (no dates after July 12th in Germany)
Tyler Childers (no dates between August 4th in Oregon and August 24th in the Netherlands)
Unotheactivist (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Valee (no dates after July 19th in Chicago)
Vince Staples (play March 29th at Fox Theater in Oakland, no dates after July 7th in Ireland)
VHS Collection (no dates after June 23rd in Delaware)
Virgil Abloh (no dates after June 29th in Vegas)
The Voidz (no dates after July 13th in Spain)
Waax (no dates after July 19th in Seattle)
Waka Flocka Flame (no dates after May 18th in Montreal)
Walker & Royce (no dates after June 15th in Washington)
Warhol.ss (play March 29th at The Complex in Oakland, no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Whipped Cream (play August 9th or 10th in Montreal)
White Reaper (no dates between June 29th in Kentucky and August 23rd in UK)
Wifisfuneral (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Wiz Khalifa (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
The Wood Brothers (no dates between August 3rd in Iowa and August 16th in Montana)
X Ambassadors (no dates after July 6th in Canada)
Yaeji (no dates after July 13th in Spain)
YBN Cordae (no dates after May 26th in Minnesota)
YBS Skola (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Yella Beezy (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
YNW Melly (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Yoke Lore (play Bottlerock in May, no dates after June 22nd in Delaware)
Young Fathers (no dates after May 26th in Boston)
Young M.A. (no dates after May 10th in Miami)
Young Nudy (no dates after May 23rd in L.A.)
Young Thug (no dates after July 7th in France)
Youngboy Never Broke Again (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
Yung Baby Tate (play April 14-15th at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz as opener, no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Yung Bae (play April 17th at SJSU Events Center, no dates after August 2nd in Washington)
Yung Bans (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
Yung Bleu (no dates after May 10th in Miami)
Yung Simmie (no dates after May 12th in Miami)
Yungeen Ace (no dates after May 11th in Miami)
Ziggy Alberts (no dates after July 11th in Montreal)
Zoey Dollaz (no dates after May 10th in Miami)
submitted by amwoods13 to OutsideLands [link] [comments]

How To Evaluate Links

By: Ross Tavendale Full Video Here
We all know that building links is the key to our SEO success, but with so many people out there offering link services, we need to be able to know what is a good link and what is a bad link.
A lot of people used to go by the old page rank toolbar to work out if a link is good or bad. Then Google killed that off. And then Moz came up with DA as a metric, and the industry kind of widely used that for quite a while with things like Majestics Trustflow, or maybe even Ahrefs Domain Rank to work out the link quality.
The thing is, those metrics are really only half of the story. In today's Weekly Wisdom, I am going to show you exactly how to decide if a website is a good place to get a link from or not. And then I will show you some tricks to kind of bulk analyze this, so if you get lots and lots of them, you can very quickly put it into your workflow.
Visual Comparison
Someone has just sent me a bunch of URLs asking, "Should I get a guest post on these or not?" The two URLs are Icy Violets and My Beautiful Adventures. Now, looking at them, I think you can already tell that one is good and one is bad, but let me take you through some actual processes that you would use to work out if it is a good or a bad site.
First of all, let's have a quick look at it. When you have things like "Submit Guest Posts" and "Write For Us" in your core top-level navigation, it tends to suggest is just some article site that is designed just for this. So this is probably not what you want to be getting links from anyway.
Image
Indexation and Domain Age
It says about home improvement, and this is the person who likes the smell of coffee in the morning. Sure you do, pal. First and foremost, how do we appraise this domain? I am just going to see if it is even indexed? Yep, it is. It has got 197 pages in the index.
Image
Next, I want to see if it is changed hands a lot recently. Typically if the domain has expired and then been repurchased, someone could buy it to sell links on it. It was updated in 2019, literally just a couple months ago. Probably this domain has expired, and then someone went in, bought it, and put something else on.
Image
But that is just an opinion. Let me actually see what it used to look like back in the day. So I am going to go into the Wayback Machine and have a little look and see. 2011 was the last time it was super active, and then there has been not a lot of activity.
Let's see what it used to look like back in the day. And if it looks considerably different, then we know. So this is what it used to look like when someone was running it. It looks like someone's personal food blog.
Image
Now it is about home improvement, and it is a completely different person. Although this can be legitimate, sometimes, it is looking more and more like this is probably someone's let their domain drop, and it is now someone's PBN that they are selling links on.
Hosting and Images
Another thing I quite like to do is a reverse IP lookup. I am going drop my domain name into here and hit go. It is saying there are 1,297 domains on the server. While that is not a bad thing per se, typically we want something that has got its own properties on some sort of dedicated hosting.
You really want to check for things like sex, pills, porn, and casinos. In this case, the server has got a bunch of casino stuff and a bunch of porn stuff on it. Not only does it look like it is a PBN, and it is low quality, it also looks like it is in a bad neighborhood.
Image
We almost definitely do not want you anywhere near this. The last thing that is kind of sticking with me is visuals because I think this is stock imagery and typically if they are a particularly lazy PBN builder, they will use the same stuff over and over again. If a search brings up many similar images, they might have taken it as stock imagery from someone else's website, and it is on multiple websites.
Image
There are loads of them. It appears that the same person's built tons and tons of websites, but just used the same person's image to do it, which is one of the dumber footprints, I think, in terms of PBNs.
And lastly, if you are not convinced that it is probably not a good domain to go for, I like to run it through SEMrush to see what the traffic's like. It says it is getting about 43 clicks from organic search.
Image
Hilariously, it is ranking for things like "submitting guest posts for home improvement," not actually about any home improvement subjects at all. And as we can see here, something pretty severe happened in 2017. Let's have a look and see what happened around then... quality update, boom. So they were killed by a quality update.
Image
So this is absolutely a website we want to stay a million miles away from, with regards to link building.
Now let's take "My Beautiful Adventures" as well, and give it the same treatment. The first thing I noticed is the owner is from Charlotte, North Carolina; this is her picture here. Let's do a quick look to see if that is a real person, or if it has just been cropped from somewhere. Looks like she is real. Her image can be found on her own blog, and it looks like she contributed to a blogger roundup post on another travel website.
Image
This is starting to look a lot more legitimate, so I am already liking this one quite a bit. Let's see if it is actually indexed and all that good stuff. It is indexed with 3,400 URLs on it, so that is excellent.
Image
We now want to actually see if she is sharing a server with anyone. Probably yes, because typically bloggers are not going to spend loads and loads of money on hosting and it is usually shared. Still, no pills, porn or casino can be found on the server, and instead of it being 1200 people she is sharing it with only 56. This is looking a lot more legitimate.
Image
Let's have a little look and see what her traffic is like as well. For 3000 pages indexed, I would expect something. Traffic is okay, but not amazing. Looks like she was maybe hit with an update and has started to recover.
Image
She is ranking for things that are not related to guest posting and things that are in the local area. In this instance, you would probably approach them and pitch them some content to get a link.
I hope you find it useful, comparing what is potentially a spam PBN to an actual legitimate place to get a link. That is everything for this week's Weekly Wisdom. Please do comment down below if you have any questions, but until next time, we will see you later.
submitted by vendetta4guitar to SEMrush [link] [comments]

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Top 15 Things To Do In Durham, North Carolina - YouTube

Cheapest Hotels To Stay In Durham - http://bit.ly/CheapHotelsPrices- Best Tours To Enjoy North Carolina - http://bit.ly/NorthCarolinaTours Cheap Airline Tick... free charlotte north carolina work at home jobs. free charlotte north carolina work at home jobs. Skip navigation Sign in. Search. Loading... Close. This video is unavailable. Watch Queue Queue ... We are a Hank Williams, Jr. Tribute band from North Carolina. Winners of the 2011 Charlotte Music Awards, Best Country Tribute Band, the band is now not only... Catch us in Cleveland this weekend! http://www.playhousesquare.org/events/detail/85-southThis episode if all about that Dope Boy Shit! DC Young Fly, Karlous ... Hilton Hotel Resort Charlotte North Carolina University Place Hilton Hotel. ''The Bed'' premium bedding, featuring a plush top mattress for extra comfort. All guestrooms feature complimentary ... I hope you are all excited for a second upload!! In this video about North Carolinas top haunted I touch on some CREEPY places I grew up hearing about! The d... A police chase in Charlotte NC ending in Eagle Woods Apartments. The suspect reportedly rammed police cruisers during the chase. Our 2018 journey across the South provided us with a wonderful opportunity to drive up the lower end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. What a beautiful drive! We we... This feature is not available right now. Please try again later. Join Dorothy and friends as you make your way down the yellow brick road to the Emerald City. This magical mountaintop attraction in North Carolina was once a theme park and now opens to the ...

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