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US Soccer Starts D2 Meeting with Tough Standards

2010 August 9
by Brian Quarstad

The USSF convenes their long-awaited Division 2 meeting in New York today on the eve of the US v Brazil game. In that meeting US Soccer will lay out their findings after 4 months of data gathering. Dan Flynn, Secretary General of the federation and chair of U.S. Soccer’s Professional League Task Force has been working with Brian Remedi, Chief Administrative Officer to gather data and talk with each existing club in the USSF D2 Pro League. US Soccer has come to some conclusions and will share that information at these meetings with representatives of each team. In fact, those standards were released to current and potential teams on Friday in order for the organizations to have time to reflect and be prepared to discuss the standards at today’s meetings.

IMS was told that the USSF is attempting to create a delineation between D-2 and D-3 soccer just as there is a large difference between MLS and D-2. They are also trying to stop the constant flux of teams that D-2 has seen over the last 15 years. As pointed out in an earlier IMS 4-part series called Rethinking Division-2 Soccer in North America, 39 of 52 teams have come and gone in that time; a 75% fail rate. However, the new standards that US Soccer have created could possibly eliminate a number of current teams if special provisions or altering of those standards is not allowed.

The new standards call for a whopping 750 thousand dollar bond which must be paid by each team 120 days in advance of the season. A figure that may have even some of the richer owners in the league reeling.

Another standard will be soccer specific stadiums. The new standard will require all teams in D2 to be playing in SSS’s within 5 years.

US Soccer is also calling for the net worth of the majority owner of each team to be worth $20 million. This more than anything is a sticking point that could eliminate a number of existing teams. The Puerto Rico Islanders are just one of those teams. The club has multiple owners, including the  Bureau  of Tourism. It’s believed that none of those owners could meet those standards even though the Islanders have been financially stable and have had great success both in league and CONCACAF competition.

A number of other teams could also be in trouble if the standards are not up for negotiation or teams are not grandfathered in. Two of those teams are the NSC Stars and Crystal Palace Baltimore. While many believe CP Baltimore are hanging on by a thread as both the USSF and NASL have pumped money into the organization in recent weeks to keep them afloat for the rest of the season, Minnesota, like Puerto Rico, is also in a unique situation. The team is a non-profit organization. It owns its stadium and is paid for. It also shares staff with the NSC and the property of the NSC is well over the benchmark net worth set by US Soccer. However, in this case they would not pass the litmus test with no one owner worth the $20 million. Other teams also worry about the high standards.

It’s believed that Edmonton, who was proposed for expansion next year, will pass the USSF criteria. It’s quite possible that all other teams proposed for 2011 by both the USL and NASL will not meet these standards. The USL Orlando group that owned a lacrosse team called the Titans have recently folded because of financial difficulties. One source from the Orlando area reported that Steve Donner, who leads the group, claims that they are still on for a D2 expansion team in 2011. In the original press conference it was said that the Titans would be the majority owner, but now Donner is claiming the Titans only owned 10% of the new soccer venture. It’s not known if this Orlando group will have the resources for the new USSF standard. FC New York was already making plans to join USL-2 (D-3) next year and not D-2 as originally touted.

Most of those attending the gathering believe that US Soccer has called the meeting to get feedback from teams and hope the exact terms are open to some negotiation.

51 Responses
  1. smatthew permalink
    August 9, 2010

    For the good of the game my only hope from the meeting is that D2 will come out more stable, secure, and stronger.

  2. MrTuktoyaktuk permalink
    August 9, 2010

    Pro: Gap btw D2 and D1 would be smaller operationally – is that the holy grail of pro/rel shining in the distance?

    Con: Most current D2 teams would have to self-rel to D3, would have lack of viable candidates for D2, as article states.

    Elevating D2 is a laudable goal, this is one way to do it, might be too much all at once though.

  3. August 9, 2010

    A team like Puerto Rico should be grandfathered in, IMO…

  4. ERic permalink
    August 9, 2010

    OK. I’ll eat crow on this one. All those folks that were saying Donner is crap and shouldn’t be involved in soccer after what happened in Rochester appear to be right. When Orlando was announced, Rosenbach was supposedly the owner, and Donner was only a minor part of it. Now, suddenly, Rosenbach has major money issues, and the LAX team is only a minority owner? So, who’s the majority owner, Donner? This sounds like a St. Louis redux. At least it’s happening before the team is playing. Hopefully the new USSF rules will shine a bright antiseptic light on what’s going on in Orlando, and we get a solid team, or nothing for a while longer.

    Glad to hear that FCNY is looking at USL2. It’s starting to look like the USL2 will get a windfall from the stronger USSF rules.

    Interesting stuff on the team requirements. Next key question: What are the league requirements? Seems pretty clear to me that the USL1 won’t be revived next season. So the obvious question is, will the NASL manage to get sanctioned?

  5. August 9, 2010

    Should we expect a summary from you after this meeting?

  6. Tom permalink
    August 9, 2010

    As stated previously by many folks, if one understands the ownership structure of MLS, the chances of pro/rel at anytime in the near as well as distant future is zero, nada, zilch, none. This is a franchise business model with a $40m(?) entry fee. If pro/rel currently existed how happy would Philadelphia be to possibly get relegated the first year into their new franchise (after ponying up big $$$$) to see Austin get promoted so ESPN could televise them on MLS playing on their high school football field. Would Austin have to come up with $40M to now be MLS? Sorry, IMO, Not going to happen anytime soon.

  7. August 9, 2010

    What I’m interested in is whether some of the team requirements that have been reported are bargaining points? Specifically, the $20m net worth requirement. Could we see this reduced? Grandfathered for existing teams? Eliminated? For the Austin Aztex, I’m not as worried about this, as the reported net worth of Aztex owner, at least last year (http://www.newsoftheworld.co.uk/sport/548583/CLUB-BY-CLUB-DEBT-GUIDE-News-of-the-World-Premier-League-money.html), was just shy of $48m (based on today’s conversion). However, I think a lot of teams may find $20m a bit too rich for them.

  8. fotbalist permalink
    August 9, 2010

    I’m happy that the USSF is getting involved in creating standards in order to help viability, but some of these standards seem a little absurd. I’m fully supportive of the $750k ‘damage deposit’ at the beginning of the season. I’m not in favor of the $20mil net worth of ownership. Why is that even important. That standard takes a hard-line for-profit business model approach that eliminates a team that might be part of a great non-profit club or system.

    I believe standards are very useful in player salaries and stadium capacity and facilities. In any case, I’m looking forward to Brian’s report after the discussions at the USSF meeting.

  9. August 9, 2010

    It would seem that the money figures being discussed and the requirement for SSS within five years would eliminate most, if not all, D2 teams currently participating in USSF D2. So these teams would be required to build SSS in this economy…I guess like the SSS in San Jose, New England, Houston and DC?

    Being an AC St. Louis fan, I completely understand the need for financial stability at the D2 level, but I wonder if USSF is throwing out the baby with the bathwater with these proposed requirements.

    Don’t get me wrong….I wish the Austin Aztex didn’t play on a football field — but I’ll take that situation coupled with the talent the organization has acquired, the quality they display on the field, and the fanbase they are building in Austin over concerns about them not playing in a SSS currently or in the immediate future. The idea is to build more fans for soccer in more cities and create more opportunities for players and coaches to perform on a professional level and nothing does that like having more teams in non-MLS markets.

    In North America, how many levels of professional men’s soccer do we need, considering the tradition of young players playing in NCAA or NAIA college programs? If we had a first division (MLS); a second division modeled on the regionalized play of the current teams in USL -2 which included those teams and the current D2 teams; NPSL and the PDL; plus college soccer and academies, isn’t that enough?

    I just can’t see how franchises in major league markets will have an easier time marketing soccer that is labeled Division 3.

  10. Bobby permalink
    August 9, 2010

    It’s pretty disturbing to consider of all the teams, Miami is one that meets the standards while Puerto Rico doesn’t.

  11. JXU permalink
    August 9, 2010

    I respect what the USSF is trying to do, but I doubt enough teams currently in D2 can meet these standards, and I don’t think anyone wants to be in a league with 4 teams.

    If this continues on this path, I think NASL and USL-1 teams will operate as D3, but seperate from the teams currently in USL-2 on the east coast (since USL-2 teams can’t afford to travel all over the continent).

  12. OleGunnar20 permalink
    August 9, 2010

    hopefully this new set of standards, whatever they might be, can make D2 more stable and also a good proving ground for MLS expansion teams. after 20 i definitely think MLS expansion teams should only go to D2 teams that have proven to be strong, stable, successful franchises in terms of fan base and ownership and at least competitive on the field. there are so few MLS spots left i definitely think that D2 raising it’s standards and the best of the best getting “promoted” (like Por, Van, Mon) will not only make the final MLS expansion teams be much stronger and more well established going in but it will also raise the level of development, play, fan interest in D2 as well. for US/Canadian soccer to thrive a very strong D2 is absolutely vital. MLS teams do not cover all of the country and stronger, more successful more popular D2 teams will be critical in filling in the gaps/markets in terms of both player development (eventually hopefully all D2 teams will have youth academies with teams in the USSF-DAL) and in terms of growing the fan base for soccer even outside the MLS markets.

  13. August 9, 2010

    So basically, they want to eliminate D-II for now while building a stronger, more stable D-III league and waiting until there really are a number of cities which can support a true second division.

    Good strategy. Kind of like the Regionalliga but without the 2.Bundesliga in between.

  14. jerseyredd permalink
    August 9, 2010

    This ploy to give the appearance of having a “delineation between” between MLS, D2, D3 is a poor attempt of hiding the failures of MLS team/league relationship. The bond itself is high but understandable at a certain agreed level by all teams currently in D2 BUT requiring that owner to be a 20 Million plus net worth owner is stupid. Once again we have the USSF doing the dirty work for MLS clown posse. How many would think that soccer growth in the US would have the USSF as a hindrance? I would like for the USSF to describe the delineation of professional soccer versus MLS!

  15. Bobby permalink
    August 9, 2010

    Obviously this is idle speculation, but this is how it could look.

    Possibly in -

    Austin Aztex -
    Stadium: House Park (non-SSS), no concrete SSS plan in place.
    Owner: Worth over $20m

    Carolina Railhawks -
    Stadium: WakeMed Soccer Park (SSS, municipally owned)
    Owner: Worth over $20m
    Notes: Wellman badly wants more investors on board, attendance is dismal.

    Charleston Battery -
    Stadium: Blackbaud Stadium (SSS, team owned)
    Owner: Worth over $20m, largely in Blackbaud, Inc. shares
    Notes: Self-relegated due to travel worries, might be scared into staying in USL2 if travel is still bad.

    Edmonton -
    Stadium: Foote Field (non-SSS), no concrete plans for a stadium
    Owner: Worth over $20m according to Brian’s piece
    Notes: Contingent upon NASL getting the approval?

    Miami FC -
    Stadium: Lockhart Stadium (SSS, municipally owned)
    Owner: Worth over $20m
    Notes: Incredibly fickle and non-committal team, driving force behind the schism.

    Montreal Impact -
    Stadium: Stade Saputo (SSS, team owned)
    Owner: Worth over $20m
    Notes: “Promoting” to MLS after 2011 season.

    Rochester Rhinos -
    Stadium: Marina Auto Stadium (SSS, municipally owned)
    Owner: Worth over $20m
    Notes: Run on a tight budget, probably not thrilled by requirements.

    Tampa Bay -
    Stadium: George M. Steinbrenner Field (non-SSS), plans for a stadium, nothing set in stone.
    Owner: Worth over $20m
    Notes: Wrangling in red tape over a stadium for over a year now.

    Question marks -

    -Atlanta (SSS in place, team not, would Boris go for it?)
    -Minnesota (SSS in place, team too, financial benchmarks wouldn’t be met without angel investor)
    -Puerto Rico (see Minnesota)
    -St. Louis (probably gone, but they do have an SSS, hurt a lot of feelings folding the WPS team)

    Gone -
    - Baltimore (a clusterfudge)
    - Portland (MLS)
    - Vancouver (MLS)

    Admittedly, my research was lazy. I’m sure Brian is much more well versed than I am. And we haven’t heard from the owners yet, so it could be all moot.

  16. tomASS permalink
    August 9, 2010

    I looked at my lottery ticket from this past weekend….sorry I was not a winner thus not a possible angel.

    Need to be careful how and what is included in how you calculate net worth. My net worth is greater being dead, just ask my wife ;-)

  17. August 9, 2010

    Bobby, I would say you are very accurate but I do believe Cooper and St. Louis will be back. I’ve not posted this before but there is now a big chasm between most of NASL owners and Cooper. Cooper is not happy that the NASL did not support him when things were bad for him when he helped support some other teams last fall. Yet NASL is not happy with Cooper because he really tarnished the NASL name as leader of the group and yet not taking charge after USSF took over the league then his own team had financial trouble making the group look bad.

    Jeremy, I will do what I can. Not sure when I’ll actually hear something.

  18. August 9, 2010

    Tomass, great point and something I’ve been thinking a lot about since I heard of these standards. For instance, it’s quite possible that Dean Johnson who owned the Thunder the last 2 years before they folded, was worth on paper more than the 20 mil. However, his worth is heavily leveraged and when the real estate market went belly up so did Johnson and the Thunder. Where a diverse group the PR Islanders may actually be more stable even though they don’t have any one investor who fits that standard. Standards are wonderful but there is still practicality and I’m hoping USSF has a review committee that will always look at extenuating circumstances.

  19. tomASS permalink
    August 9, 2010

    Cash is still king and the more liquid the net worth the better when it comes to running what is basically a small business. Need to have about 3-5 years worth of operating capital to sustain and grow. Especially in the market soccer is operating within. Love the game, but it is still a business and you need to make a profit.

  20. August 9, 2010

    No one is making profits except for perhaps Portland and for sure Montreal. Only 2 MLS teams making a profit. As Sunil is saying, owners need to be in this for the long haul. That is what they are looking for.

  21. WSW permalink
    August 9, 2010

    How do you that some of the owners have over $20 million? links please.

  22. Mike permalink
    August 9, 2010

    I don’t see why they would reject Puerto Rico if the group of owners add up to at least $20 million. If anything, a setup like that is better than a single owner.

  23. WSW permalink
    August 9, 2010

    Nobody knows how much money each owner group has, just speculation.

  24. Flacotex permalink
    August 9, 2010

    Part of me thinks that the bond money and the ownership net worth requirements are great for the professional game in the US (and Canada). Soccer was one of the last frontier of fly by night owners who promised themselves and their investors an easy way to riches through professional sports. The line some other potential owners were buying included the words revenue streams, overtake/promotion to MLS and develop and sell talent; all claimed by men who collected franchise fees while the franchises they sanctioned died a slow painful death. With rare rare rare exception the easy riches and the successful franchise never happened. Instead franchise fees were collected, teams skipped out on legitimate bills that were owed to local suppliers and players shifted from team to team trying to eke out a career in chaotic circumstances. You could say that the meetings today signified an important step in the United States and Canada. Soccer has grown up and if you want to play in a national FIFA sanctioned league you can no longer lie and bluff your way in or get suckered into it by those who want to you to give them your money.

    The other part of me realizes that today’s meetings have signified that MLS has won. There will be no rival league, no group of teams will grow interest in the game so that MLS is forced to merge with them and break out of their collectivism. And the winners sit on the panels that decide the future of the sport and the winners write the rules our sport must abide by in the United States and Canada. And we will soon be able to tell which direction the winners want to take this sport. Do they want to go the way of the NFL and destroy all opposition so that there is only one professional league and a feeder system that gives it talent up for free? Or do they want to grow the sport by allowing lower leagues to grow in order to develop talent and interest in the game? That choice is being given to us over the next several days. And since I am a fan of the game and yet have no voice in those decisions made by those in charge, I am a bit unsettled on what they will decide to do.

  25. August 9, 2010

    With all of these large financial requirements, doesn’t it seem like the USSF is just trying to get rid of Division II soccer in this country? That is my first glance at it.

  26. August 9, 2010

    Flacotex,

    Substitute the first word in this sentence of yours and I think you could be talking about any minor league sport or league.

    “Soccer was one of the last frontier of fly by night owners who promised themselves and their investors an easy way to riches through professional sports.”

    Seriously, there are lots of people with money out there that want to think they are just a bit better off then they are and believe that owning a sports franchise, albeit minor league, will give them power and status. I understand what you are saying about the history of minor league soccer in the US and you are correct. But really, it’s been true of almost all the minor league sports in the US. The fail rate hasn’t been quite so dramatic but almost as bad in some cases.

    I don’t believe for a minute that US Soccer is trying to destroy all competition but they are trying to create a system and ad guidance (to a certain extent) that has long been overlooked by US Soccer. They will also be looking at D-3 as well.

  27. Mike permalink
    August 9, 2010

    Brian’s right. If US Soccer “destroys all competition” MLS’s single entity structure is gone.

  28. Soccer Boy permalink
    August 9, 2010

    Is there really a technical definition of a “soccer specific stadium.” In researching the term on the WWW, about the only thing I can find is that it is a place where a regulation soccer field can fit and the only lines you have on the field are soccer lines.

    I guess I wonder what the big deal is for a SSS. I have watched a few of the Austin Axtex home matches on the WWW. It is annoying to have football lines on the pitch (and an artifical surface). Beyond that, they do not seem to have a hard time getting people to their matches (although they could have more), and they are playing good soccer, so I do not see what the big deal is–or is this really a “if you build it, they will come,” type of thing. (Based on the technical definition, before the removed the track at the NSC, we did not have a SSS, right?)

    In a tight economy, it is going to be tough for teams to get SSS on the taxpayer dime. I am not sure why USSF is so big on this for D2, yet fails to demand it for MLS. Am I missing something here?

    Regarding the NSC MN Stars, I am confused why the $20 million threshold could not be waived. I assume they are losing money on the Stars right now, but I think they make a ton of money on the Super Rink and all the other stuff they have going on. Seems like it would be logical to make an exception to the “rule.” Quite frankly, I would imagne all of NSC’s assets total well over $20 million. (Well, I guess the franchies was technically awared to the NSC Foundation.)

    PS: Insidemnsoccer.com is the only place you can find this information. I can’t wait to hear more about D2 soccer in the US. Keep up the great work Brian!

  29. August 9, 2010

    Thanks. I would have regarded the NSC Stadium before the revamp to be an SSS or close enough. The field was always intended for soccer even though there was also a running track. Same as many stadiums throughout the world were track and field are big. It is so much better today, however.

    The concept is, your not playing on a narrow field, with American football lines on it. I disagree with you on that and think its really horrible. However, I do sympathize with those teams just as you are. A team like Austin has no SSS that fits the bill of being able to seat (I think this is right) 5,ooo. I believe that was the old USL standard but not sure what the USSF standard is. I’m sure that is under review as well. Also, it has to have locker room facilities. The Jimmy in St. Paul had the locker room facilities but were poor at best. The field was so narrow that had to get special exception from the USSF to play there.

    Austin’s field make me dizzy watching games online with poor resolution. Last year when Cleveland was playing, they seemed to get a about 3 FSC Friday night USL games. It was hideous trying to watch those games and I’m not just talking about the product that was on the field. ;-)

    Thanks for the kind words.

  30. CoconutMonkey permalink
    August 9, 2010

    5 years to build a stadium? Good gravy that’s a little harsh.

    If we held MLS clubs to the same standard, DC United could be relegated to division 3! ;)

  31. Bobby permalink
    August 9, 2010

    Having a stadium has a number of advantages, especially if the team owns or operates it:

    1) Control of revenues, rather than paying rent or a slice of the gate receipts.
    2) Control of dates. This allows teams to play matches when it fits them, not when it fits another team that uses the stadium.
    3) No more 60-yard wide fields where bad teams can essentially play a 6-man midfield and steal a point in a choked-to-death 0-0 draw.
    4) An asset. If times get really bad you can mortgage or sell the stadium if you own it, that could save a club.

  32. fotbalist permalink
    August 9, 2010

    Maybe one of the guarantees/standards should be a minimum number of fans in attendance at games. That would sure indicate how well loved the team is by locals. Basically a team may be allowed to fold (or move) if they cannot attract the locals. After all, soccer is played for the beauty of the game and the enjoyment of players, coaches and fans. You cannot have one without the other. Naturally, a successful “sustainable” business model should be employed in every situation, including soccer teams.

  33. WSW permalink
    August 10, 2010

    Brian I listened to your interview on “It’s called Football” about the academy situation, you forgot to mention that the Rowdies have residency developmental academy, just like Vancouver does.

  34. CoconutMonkey permalink
    August 10, 2010

    Good question Soccer Boy. It seems kind of silly, but I wondered what they mean by soccer specific stadium myself. However, I can only assume that the USSF’s D2 requirements spell that out for the owners.

    Another possibly silly question, when they say “majority owner”, do they mean an individual person, or an individual legal entity?

    Man, I really hope they release a copy of these requirements to the public. Can’t wait to take a look.

  35. August 10, 2010

    WSW, I had actually forgotten that. Thanks for reminding me.

  36. ERic permalink
    August 10, 2010

    For the record, House Park (Austin’s home field) seats 6500. But since it’s all bleachers, I suppose it could potentially seat more.

  37. Chris permalink
    August 10, 2010

    Say goodbye to D2 soccer in North America per these US Soccer guidelines. Certainly the powers that be cannot be that blind to think that there are so many investors out there that want to throw their cash at minor league soccer. Soccer on the D2 level will have to remain small potatoes in this country and build on a regional level. Yes, it would be nice for every team to have a soccer specific stadium in the league, but sometimes something is better than nothing. Perhaps some more relaxed guidelines that outline the possiblilities on how to achieve creating successful minor league teams with best practices would be in order. I guess MLS fails to realize the value of what the USL has done for the league over the years by creating a place where players can continue to develop. Maybe cooler heads will prevail and we can realize a D2 minor league with teams across the country that play a regionalized regular season schedule to minimize costs as well as foster rivalries. Who needs US Soccer anyway?

  38. August 10, 2010

    I cannot fathom how people can say the USSF and MLS are killing D-2 soccer. The shady owners, unrealistic dreamers and complete lack of self-governance by the people who have cobbled together second division teams and leagues are to blame. The federation – and if you want to include MLS in that because they have been smart enough to develop a stable model, knock yourself out – is simply stepping in to create a system that might have some long-term stability and success.

    The fed is not perfect. They have lots of problems, but them letting this situation fester and boil for so long is more of a mistake than actually creating standards and holding teams to them. The reality is that most of what is sold as “second division” soccer is, organizationally, more on a much lower level. The USSF is simply codifying the mistakes made by people like Cooper, CPB and Miami.

  39. Jay permalink
    August 10, 2010

    Looking at these requirements, my first reaction is that USSF is preparing D2 for an influx of MLS investment to bolster the ranks. Would AEG pay a relatively small amount of money to get a sanctioned D2 “reserve” team for LA Galaxy?

  40. Chris permalink
    August 10, 2010

    The US Soccer Federation does little more than rake in money. This whole D2 dust up could have been squashed in the beginning by US Soccer simply not sanctioning the NASL (break away owners from USL) and allowing the USL to remain as the D2 offering. Ultimately letting things drag out in the beginning last year has hurt the prospects for D2 soccer here in the US. Granted D2 soccer is not the best overall quality, but it has proven it can hold its own against MLS in the past. The USL has been on the right track over the years and with the disruption of last year they have awaken. There needs to be a foundation for a D2 pro league and I say let the USL continue to have that as long as it is monitored more closely by the USSF to ensure the long term viability of D2 soccer.

  41. Grant Stephens permalink
    August 10, 2010

    FC Tampa Bay fan here. Let me ask the question, is there a possibility of no soccer in my area next year? (or other D2 areas who arent having ownership issues?)

    Thanks! And I agree that this is the best site for news regarding D2 soccer!

  42. Soccer Boy permalink
    August 10, 2010

    I have really enjoyed the mandate by USSF that all D2 teams webcast their matches. While some broadcasts are downright pathetic, it has helped me track the Stars. I would like to see that as an ongoing mandate–with some additional requirements for improving the viewers experience.

  43. Thruball permalink
    August 10, 2010

    D2 soccer will not die….
    The first year the Rhinos were in the A-league I think it had about 7 or 8 teams in it…..
    I think that is similar to the number the USSF is looking for for a sanctioned league.
    Trust me, a second division will exist…. or Rob Clark will be suing someone to kingdom come…

  44. August 11, 2010

    Grant, I think your team makes the qualifications no problem but the stadium is going to be an issue. They are going to have to sort that out. I’ve been told they have a messy lease issue with Stienbrener stadium currently and they might have to move next year anyway. I know the ownership group really wants to build a stadium but that takes time and if I’m an owner and D2 is in such flux I am in no hurry to do so until things start to stabilize. I think USSF will understand that as well. However, they may want a long term plan in place. FC Tampa have been a welcome addition to the league and have really done things right so far. Hats off to Nestor, Hinds and the rest of the staff down there.

  45. Bart permalink
    August 11, 2010

    Grant,

    Good thing you are calling the team FC Tampa Bay and not the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

    Classic Sports Logos, the owner of the trademark called “Tampa Bay Rowdies” just won a nasty piece of litigation against American Needle, Inc., for using their trademark.

    Classic Ink, Inc., owner of Classic Sports Logos brand apparel line and rapidly growing trademark licensing firm, secured a major legal victory in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas against American Needle, Inc., and its Red Jacket apparel business on Aug. 6. The jury verdict heralds the end of the latest chapter in a long-running battle over American Needle’s continued infringement of Classic Ink’s trademarks.

    “This is a tremendous validation of our Classic Ink trademark portfolio, and it means a great deal to Classic Ink and its licensing partner, BioWorld Merchandising, Inc.”
    .After a five-day trial, the seven-member jury returned a unanimous verdict finding American Needle and its Red Jacket apparel business infringed Classic Ink’s trademark rights under the U.S. Trademark laws, including “Tampa Bay Rowdies”® and “Chicago Sting”® marks. The Dallas jury also confirmed the validity of Classic Ink’s trademarks to its “retro” sport team marks and logos. An injunction will prevent American Needle from any further infringing sales, and American Needle has indicated that they would comply with any Court-ordered injunction by stopping future sales of the accused products.

    Mr. Nestor and his partners are in the crosshairs of the rightful “Tampa Bay Rowdies” trademark owner.

  46. August 11, 2010

    While it is true that Classic Inc won this case, according to Mr. Hinds at FC Tampa Bay Rowdies, they are not done with this issue yet and will be hearing more in the near future. Not sure what that means except they will continue to fight this in court.

  47. Grant Stephens permalink
    August 11, 2010

    Thanks Brian for answering my question. Its not been the bext week for soccer in the area. First, we get destroyed by Austin at the weekend. Second, these guidelines come out and make us rethink our stadium issues and the league as a whole. Third, What Bart said! (cant be good, any way you slice it!). Then Lastly, We lost our best Rowdies beat writer, to of all places, The USL!

    The games and atmosphere have been great this year! Good crowds on hand with a good mix of history blended with new style. It would be a shame if USSF didnt pick up the torch for another year. I feel like they would be the best organization to bring us all forward (but I know they arent in the business of running a league!)

    I feel like there are so many southern and NE teams that regional leagues would make sense. Tampa, Miami (Ft. Lauderdale), Puerto Rico, Charleston, Carolina, Atlanta (?), perhaps Richmond? Regardless of where they put ‘The Rowdies’ (up yours, Classic Sports Logos!) Ill be there to watch, and Im sure 3000-4000 of my green and yellow friends will be with me!

    Thanks, guys!

  48. Bart permalink
    August 11, 2010

    Brian,

    Actually, this recent case sets a very strong precedent in that the court now recognizes Classic Inc’s ownership of the “Tampa Bay Rowdies” trademark. In spite of Mr. Hinds’ statement that he will continue to fight in court, that is now merely a delay tactic until, hopefully for FC Tampa Bay, that they can settle this out of court.

    I suspect that Hinds and Nestor are not willing to pay a license fee for the trademark, and now they need to mitigate the court risk by paying some amount of monies to Classic Inc.

    Even after the filing of the litigation by Classic against the Hinds/Nestor group, the group continues to use the Rowdies name in the marketing of the team, and that will cost them a lot of money in punitive damages. Had they withdrawn the use of the name and then let the court decide the outcome, any settlement costs would be far less than what they now will be.

    At the end of the day, this is all about money anyway, but I believe this will hurt the Tampa Bay effort, at least in the short term, until this is resolved.

  49. yankiboy permalink
    August 11, 2010

    OK. Before I have fired off here and online when I was hot–so this time I delayed posting in order to “slow my roll” a bit…

    If the USSF does in fact force out PRIFC because of the $20 mil, single owner deal and the fact that Puerto Rico Islanders are not going to have a SSS (and you can take that to the bank–pardon the pun) then the USSF will be telling Islander’s ownership “adios”.

    Which would be real dumb, considering the fact that Islanders are covering their bills and along with the Montreal Impact have done more to promote the US Second Division internationally than the US based member teams.

    It has been mutually beneficial for the USSF to work with the CSA & FPF. If they are saying that they are not going to take into consideration the Islanders’ very specific circumstances then I think that the Puerto Rico ownership should play hardball, too.

    Yes, it costs a lot to fly to PR. I get that. But to the best of my knowledge they aren’t bouncing checks and they have been good for the public promotion of a division that thanks to Islanders and the Impact-fans throughout the region actually realize exists.

    Montreal is already headed up. Seems to me like it makes sense to keep PR as long as it contributes to the value of the collective.

    Let’s see who blinks first…

  50. Chase Hoffman permalink
    August 11, 2010

    I’ll bite on the opposing idea.

    There’s always going to be a second tier of soccer in this country, whether you call it D-2, D-3 (presuming there is no D-2) or The Championship. You are correct in that the current system hasn’t been that successful. I think Brian Quarstad cites a 75% failure rate of teams in the last 15 years. At the same time, though, if you make the barrier to be “D-2″ so high that it yields only 4-5 teams that can meet it, then I think you’re doing the game a disservice. I agree that standards need to be put in place to make the second tier more stable. I do NOT think it follows, though, that setting extremely high standards (for that level of play, anyway), will cause mature responsible owners to magically come out of the woodwork.

    To me these standards seem to be a crushing blow to the current second tier. There may be a compelling argument that, due to the nature of sports in the US and the high travel costs that a national league entails, a series of smaller, regional leagues are better suited as the second tier in the US. I can buy that argument. The problem with that is that there then isn’t a good enough financial base to keep/develop good talent. USSF D-2/USL1/NASL serves a valuable financial niche to keep the not-quite-ready-for-primetime talent around and seen domestically. If we go back to smaller, regional leagues, that money isn’t there anymore. What’s then to stop our talent from largely draining overseas to small leagues where they’re not going to get much, if any exposure to US fans? What’s to stop players from thinking that a career in some other field is better/more financially rewarding than playing ball in a football stadium for 20k a year?

    I think we need a viable second tier national league. I agree that the current system isn’t great – we do need more financial control, and we do need more stability. I’m just not sure that setting the bar THIS high makes sense right now. If there is a compelling argument that the standards must be that high, then they should be phased in over a period of years, not dropped in wholesale. As far as I can tell, the only phased in part of the new standards is an SSS. And in some instances I think 5 years isn’t enough time. Even if a team had the money to lay out for a nice stadium today, the process of getting land, permits, design, etc. might well stretch past 5 years. I live in Austin, and very little around here goes fast because we have an extremely active NIMBY community.

  51. Grant Stephens permalink
    August 11, 2010

    NIMBY’s in Tampa, too!

    We had a nice spot all ready to go until it got shot down by some cranky seniors (who got bussed in to fight it!)

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