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VisionPro Sports Institute to Announce USL Affiliation in Tampa with USL PRO Team for 2013

2011 November 14
by Brian Quarstad

The United Soccer Leagues will hold a press conference with VisionPro Sports Institute on Wednesday in Tampa to announce a new addition to the USL family. VisionPro Sports Institute (VSI) along with USL President Tim Holt will announce that VSI has struck an agreement with the elite Tampa area soccer club Brandon FC Flames. VSI will start a Super Y and a Premier Development League (PDL) team. Then in 2013 VSI will launch their first pro soccer team with a USL PRO expansion team that will play in the Tampa area.

VSI is an independent international business creating and running football academies. Their first training venue is La Manga Club Resort in Spain. It’s believed that VSI plans on creating their second training venue in Tampa with the Brandon FC Flames.

The press conference which will take place on Wednesday was announced Monday in a USL press advisory. It will include legendary English footballer and VSI representative Ian Wright. Also included are: VSI Chairman Neil Caisley, CEO Simon Crane, Brandon FC Flames representative Joanne Quinn, and Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, Rob Higgins.

The VSI website has stated for some time that they would be expanding into the United States. On Monday, November 14, their website confirmed that expansion.

“We’ll be building on our international presence with locations in Portugal, Asia and the USA, each modelled on the success of our flagship academy. VSI will also own professional clubs in its academy locations and will own, license or franchise other VSI academies in selected locations meeting our strict criteria for excellent facilities, coaching and education.”

In the VSI news section of the website it proclaims: “Football, or Soccer as known in the US, continues to grow at a significant rate and now has the largest participation of youngsters than any other sport in the country. This is reflected by the number of players now competing in the Premiership and currently includes Tim Howard (Everton), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Brad Friedel (Spurs) and Stuart Holden (Bolton). The pending VSI announcement is expected to embrace US soccer at every level.”

USF Corbett Stadium

It’s believed the USL Super Y and USL PDL teams will play in Brandon which is approximately 15 minutes east of Tampa at the JC Handly Sports Complex. One source told IMS the Tampa USL PRO team will play at the new University of South Florida Corbett Stadium. The Stadium was named after former Tampa Bay Rowdies owner Cornelia Corbett, who contributed $1.5 million to USF’s athletic department. The stadium seats 1,000 fans and a berm area around the stadium will allow another 2,000 fans to to sit on the hills.

The USL PRO team in Tampa will be the second pro soccer club in the area with FC Tampa Bay of the North American Soccer League (NASL) the first. FC Tampa Bay was established 2 years ago playing first in the one-and-done USSF D-2 Pro League. The Tampa team was originally signed up as a USL First Division team but broke ranks and affiliated themselves with the NASL breakaway group. The move caused the USL to sue the FC Tampa Bay. Eventually the lawsuit was withdrawn after the USSF struck an agreement with the NASL and the USL to run the league themselves for one year.

FC Tampa Bay originally started out in Tampa playing at Steinbrenner Field. But the team moved to St. Petersburg this past season when they were able to strike a better deal with the city to play at Al Lang Field, another converted baseball park. The rumored site of the new USL PRO team, University of South Florida Corbett Stadium, is approximately 35 miles northeast of Al Lang Stadium.

The USL press conference will be carried live on USL Live starting at 9:00 a.m. CT.

98 Responses
  1. speedcake permalink
    November 14, 2011


  2. thesuperrookie permalink
    November 14, 2011

    1) Ha.
    2) FC Tampa leadership deserves this one. Sometimes competition is great.
    3) Ha.
    4) I do find it a tad hilarious that the director from TB Sports Commission is going to be at the meeting. Whatever happened to that downtown stadium, or legal use of the name?
    5) Bet this new team doesn’t lie about a bonus ticket.

    Now, for my next trick, I’m going to order a nice bottle of wine and send it to my good friend, Bart. Red or White my friend?

  3. WSW permalink
    November 14, 2011

    USL will kill minor league soccer in this country, mark my words.

  4. Steve permalink
    November 14, 2011

    Not only is the TB Sports Commission Director going to be there…the press conference is at the Commission’s office.

    Hopefully this entices FCTB to stop the slow boil of hoping fans find you through some kind of ESP at a stadium no one wants to drive to. Get the trademark. Get a real stadium. Market the team. Chasing your tail for another year could well be a fatal mistake.

  5. speedcake permalink
    November 14, 2011

    Super Rookie is right, FCTB has left the door wide open for something like this and they are really going to have pull their collective heads out of their butts if they want to still be around after the 2013 season.

    Already hearing from alot of people who are excited about a Tampa based pro team to support. If they connect the dots in a way FCTB has so far has failed to do, there won’t be two pro teams in the are for long.

  6. Bart permalink
    November 14, 2011

    A nice red wine might be in order, but given the surprising location of this new USL Pro team, a vintage glass of champagne might be in order as well!

    @WSW- why be such a downer? This is a capitalist country, founded on the premise that competition is good for the customer. Are you insinuating that FC Tampa can’t handle competition that is 35 miles away? As you well know, USL Pro can’t hold a candle to the mighty NASL business unit, so there should be no worries!

  7. WSW permalink
    November 14, 2011

    If USL wants a war NASL should give them a war:

    1. NASL should expand a team in Orlando and partner with Disney
    2. NASL should retain trademarks and expand teams where USL exists and use old NASL names.
    3. Retain D2 status is a must.

  8. Bart permalink
    November 14, 2011

    @WSW – that is some serious wacky weed you have burning. FC Orlando already has a relationship with Disney. So far, the use of old original NASL names has not gotten fans in the seats. NASL can’t even divest a team, much less bring in a new one.

  9. November 14, 2011

    I can’t speak for the NASL but I know from talking to their personal in the past, including Commissioner Downs, they have no interest whatsoever in a war. Their feeling is they have proven their product is the next best under MLS and they will focus on their own product and their own expansion.

    @WSW, expand? I know they want to but with the tough D2 standards that’s not so easy. Also, they need to sell MN, and 2 of the 3 Traffic teams first. I’d say they have their hands full without looking for revenge.

  10. WSW permalink
    November 14, 2011

    @Bart so why are they playing in Citrus Bowl instead of the facility at Disney?

  11. Soccer Boy permalink
    November 14, 2011

    Why was the NASL want to expand and every USL market? To me that makes no sense. I like the NASL’s approach to financial stability, the USL approach of starting teams that will be bankrupt in a year or two. Competition is always good! However, I think a 3000 seat stadium is not the way to do it-I guess actually 1000 seats, with 2000 seats on the ground.

  12. WSW permalink
    November 14, 2011

    Actually the more I think about it and read the article the more I think they are trying to divide the cities and fanbase, but USF holds 3,000 so……..

    basically FCTB needs to retain “Rowdies” name and promote the team in St. Pete and Sarasota.

  13. WSW permalink
    November 14, 2011

    So how is USL’s expansion in New York and LA going……..

    Stupidest businnes entity in all of US sports.

  14. November 14, 2011

    “USL will kill minor league soccer in this country, mark my words.”

    I’m still marking your words about how FCTB would be “huge” in St. Pete and “sell out every game.”

    The truth of the matter is this: you don’t have a clue about anything you talk about. Not a one. Two years ago, you were all “anybody but Traffic.” Now you’re a Traffic guy, through and through.

    ALL of this stuff is silly and I fear we’re going to see more self-destructive things in the name of pure spite. Neither side has clean hands in this.

  15. WSW permalink
    November 14, 2011


    How I’m I a “Traffic” guy when FCTB isn’t owned by Traffic.

    From a clearly business decision it’s a dumb move by USL.. but I guess USL has made great business decisions in Puerto Rico, NY and LA.

    So let’s just expand teams in spite and watch them fade away…..

  16. Jim permalink
    November 14, 2011

    I’m all for competition, but come on. Expanding in Tampa – really? Of all the cities in the entire US this is the city where they announce expansion. It strikes me as an odd choice, and one that might be motivated by a revenge factor against FCTB. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but if Ft. Lauderdale is announced next…I’d just laugh at the continued fun that the USL vs NASL theater provides us soccer fans each off season!

  17. WSW permalink
    November 14, 2011


    Every FCTB-Rowdies fan should just read and re-read Nestor’s statements, I’m sure they are working behind the scenes,…wrapup/1196185

    Nestor said having a soccer specific stadium in a downtown location remains a top priority. The team will play at Al Lang Field for another season.

    “It’s essential to have that stadium,” Nestor said. “From a location standpoint, I think our view is a little different than what it was a year ago, definitely different than two or three years ago because we have had an experience in St. Pete. At the end of the day, what’s important to us is to be in a central location near a downtown where you have the amenities around the stadium, not just at the stadium.”

    Asked if that situation exists in St. Petersburg, Nestor pointed to Al Lang Field and how Portland renovated its minor-league baseball stadium to a soccer-only facility for MLS.

    “There are definitely ways to get creative,” Nestor said.
    As for the Rowdies name, owned by a Texas apparel company, Nestor said the team still is working toward likely buying the right to use the name or the name outright.

    “It’s something that takes a while,” Nestor said. “We’re still working toward a resolution, and it’s not completely up to us. Those things aren’t completely 100 percent in our control, so you do what you can over time.”

    also breaking news Kartik confirmed on Ultras live show that U.S. NASL teams will be competing in USOC in 2012.

  18. Stephen permalink
    November 14, 2011

    Wouldn’t be surprised if they are looking at a ‘proper’ Miami USL PRO team for the next expansion.

  19. November 15, 2011

    Never a dull moment with the minor league soccer wars, eh?

    Don’t forget the USL-Pro team in San Antonio run by the Spurs. And a Miami USL-Pro team sounds about right. Tampa FC have not connected in the market and another team could really force Nestor and his Citrus Group to abandon ship.

    Yeah, FCNY and the LA Blues have been huge duds. The rumor is that FCNY will likely have to go to NPSL or just fold. Who knows about the Blues? They draw no one. But the USL will keep churning out teams. And if they have teams in Tampa, SA, and Miami – it will hurt the NASL there. No question about that. This is a direct challenge to the NASL.

    @Brian – It would be a huge mistake for Downs to ignore the challenge of the USL. The NASL hasn’t really proven anything. Other than they can lose lots of money. And they are extremely vulnerable with so much of the league controlled by Traffic and lack of ownership. There will be no Joey Saputo next year and his 11,000 crowds next year.

    If Downs really has been working on some sort of agreement with MLS, he’d better announce something soon. Because Tim Holt has been touting that the USL is going to be announcing more working relationships between USL-Pro and MLS clubs. As well as more MLS clubs forming PDL teams. The NASL could get pushed aside in the development pyramid. Maybe just pushed out altogether.

  20. WSW permalink
    November 15, 2011

    Downs and NASL will be meeting with Garber during MLS Cup weekend and just announced that NASL will be sanctioned as D2 for 2012 as well as being in 2nd round draw for USOC.

  21. Jim permalink
    November 15, 2011

    Where is the sanctioning announcement? I’d love to see a source for this claim.

  22. WSW permalink
    November 15, 2011

    @Jim PR Director for NASL stated during a interview “we will be sanctioned” not I believe or I think.

  23. bullsear permalink
    November 15, 2011

    FCTB had better get on it, and quick. I think it’s a good idea that Holt and VisionPro have chosen to wait until 2013 to launch; not only will it give them proper lead time, it’ll also give them another season to see if FCTB will actually ever BE competition.
    Downs had better start hounding his owners to invest or bring on partners, cause if FCTB can’t corner the market this season, they’ll be in for a fight in 2013.

  24. November 15, 2011

    @WSW, I love the Miami Ultra’s podcast and those guys are great.

    Well, you got me to listen to the latest podcast and I am surprised but Kartik did actually say “we will be sanctioned.” While odds are very good that they will be sanctioned, (I spoke to US Soccer and Commissioner Downs yesterday regarding this matter – article coming) no one can say “they will be sanctioned” until the vote is taken on Sunday. The same is true as to USOC. If they don’t get sanctioned they wouldn’t be included. If they do they will.

  25. November 15, 2011

    Whitestar, you were full of wishful thinking yesterday. Keep thinking Disney wants anything to do with pro sports in Orlando. They already dealt City in on the Pro Soccer Classic. That’s all they’re going to do.

    And since Bart doesn’t feel like dignifying your question with a response, we use the Citrus Bowl because we prefer having a field with actual soccer dimensions. Plus there’s that tidy $14.50 per-person premium on tickets to any event at Wide World of Sports.

  26. Bart permalink
    November 15, 2011

    @ Reeeve’s Army

    I would have responded, but sometimes WSW just rambles on and on, as he has done here. As an example, the Nestor comments are nothing more than wishful thinking. he has done a lousy job interfacing with the city officials.

    I too, think NASL will be sanctioned for 2012, and I think Traffic will bite the bullet for one more season, thinking/praying that they might get a small portion of their lost dollars back.

    And I would not agree that Downs/NASL has “proven” anything related to their being the best below MLS. Watching the “Championship Final” NASL defensive game was less than boring, although I give kudos to the Stars for winning.

    The USL Pro championship game was a far more exciting event to watch than that of the NASL finals. And excitement is what brings fans back to the seats.

    What happened to the NASL “damn the torpedoes, pay for the best players” approach to the game? Oh, wait, someone with the money said stop, and across the board, salaries were dropped. So now what you have is an NASL model of reduced salaries and all of the travel with little of the fans. Now if they were only regionalized. …. WAIT…. HOLD ON… how is this different from the state USL Pro approach?

    Nestor and his group have serious issues and had serious issues before this USL announcement was known. This only highlights the FC Tampa issues.

  27. thesuperrookie permalink
    November 15, 2011

    Why wouldn’t USL expand to Tampa?

    It is where their headquarters are located. Also, the FCTB owners are sitting ducks and could easily lose the market…they should have went all in on playing at USF…

    Hate to say it, but FCTB is the weak link in the NASL. Always has been.


    It is a shame because they have a good fan base/group built in, but they act like MLS in 1999 in their relationship with fans….

  28. Dave DuJour permalink
    November 15, 2011

    @Bart “Watching the “Championship Final” NASL defensive game was less than boring, although I give kudos to the Stars for winning.”

    The NASL Championship Final game I attended was a spectacular affair. Yes, it helped that my team scored 4 goals that game, but it was still incredible even if you didn’t have horse in the race. Just because the 2nd game in the Final got rained out (effectively) doesn’t mean the Championship Final was boring. Just that last game.

    People don’t say the 2011 MLB World Series was boring, do they? Even though some of the games were very one-sided? Don’t say the same thing about the NASL Championship Final. It’s more than a single game.

  29. Danwolf permalink
    November 15, 2011

    My Question is where is US

  30. Danwolf permalink
    November 15, 2011

    My Question is WHERE IS THE USSF on this matter. The USSF needs to deal with this Issue between USL-Pro and NASL or do what they said they don’t want to do RUN 2

  31. Danwolf permalink
    November 15, 2011


    Personally i think they need to up the requirements of D3 soccer so USL-Pro can focus on getting their ducks in a barrel or dropping down to 4th division so they can call themselves the best league below MLS. I mean shouldn’t USL Pro be more focused on creating a West league then trying to duke it out with NASL. I mean if they wanna duke it out with the NASL then do it during the USOC.

  32. Stephen permalink
    November 15, 2011

    I gotta admit though, the prospect of a Tampa vs St Pete derby would be interesting…

  33. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 15, 2011

    I read this and immediately busted out laughing! So many points, such little time…

    a) Maybe this team can be in the same division as the ‘proposed’ Ft. Lauderdale team that USL was looking at last year? (eyes rolling!)

    b) The USL was wise to announce a 2013 date on this pro team. In all honesty – and let the butchering begin – I bet this team never plays ONE GAME above PDL! That way, the announcement isnt a total sham, but the pro team ‘dream’ can be slowly forgotten over the next year and a half. Typical USL form, if you ask me. Look at the obvious details: Brandon Flames, Super Y and PDL is all over the press release. Fine. Congrats. you partnered with a youth team and The PDL here would be great! I welcome the good rivalry with IMG academy in Bradenton, But the pro team ‘dream’ just wreaks of USL ‘announcement’ fodder. There is no consequence if the pro team is a non-starter because they will say that the Super Y and PDL are their focus….for now…always leaving that door open, just in case. Ive held season tickets to 2 seperate USL teams and can still show you the letters I got from both when they closed doors without a whimper, or ‘re-focused’ on PDL. Announcements, unfortunately, work both ways.

    c) Im all for free market and America and all that….but this is a poorly conceived move by USL for anything above Super Y and PDL. USF soccer stadium is as inconvenient to the Tampa Bay area as Al Lang is accused of being. There is no ‘donwtown’ atmosphere there and its a college stadium, so NO BEER! The most this team could look forward to is recreating a college soccer atmosphere. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you could just easily choose the ‘pro’ atmosphere in St. Pete. The ‘decision factor’ the fans will face that USL hopes to exploit will not turn out well for them. Sorry!

    Like I said, I look forward to a PDL team coming to East, East, EAST Tampa….but I probably wont attent a single game unless its an exhibition against FCTB. Sorry! If USL thinks that the soccer geeks in this area are so fickle that they would drop FCTB for a new ‘upstart’, they have another thing coming. I can honestly see not one fan dropping FCTB for these guys, unless they live in the shadow of USF, have a connection to Brandon Flames FC, or enjoy some PDL on a weekend when FCTB is away. If The USL brass thinks that soccer ‘fans’ are this easily created or swayed away from FCTB, then they are insulting every single one of us who spends time, money, and energy on the sport. They would be spitting on the idea of ‘fanhood’ and they will have to market against the 3K that goes to every FCTB game without fail. Some may laugh at that, but try starting a soccer team in Tampa without that die-hard 3K in place. Talk about your ‘weak link franchises’…

    Now, Que the legions of haters who will say ‘NASL bleeds money!’ or ‘Nobody likes Nestor!’ (one of my favs, still), but the fact remains…NASL’s pro soccer team in Tampa will be the better draw, no matter what. I would bet my collection of USL ‘re-focusing announcement letters’ on it!

  34. yankiboy permalink
    November 15, 2011

    @WSW: Please save me some of that NASL Kool-Aid punch, Bro. Don’t be stingy. Wow.

    @thesuperrookie: Look, Man–stop being so hard on FCTamper Bay. You know what you need–you need a nice, robust Chardonnay to help you take some of your edginess down a notch or two.

    @Grant Stephens: Put it in the bet book! I got a $20 spot that says that the proposed USLPRO club DOES play a game as a professional team by 2013. I got witnesses, Kid. So when I win, pay me my money and don’t be actin’ funny. +1 for addressing the booze issue.

  35. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 15, 2011

    @ Yankiboy….So, for the witnesses, the USL team has to take the field as a ‘Tampa Bay’ team, at the pro level, in 2013! Easiest $20 I ever made! Ill send you my address so you can send payment sometime around now in 2012 when the whole idea is a ‘non-starter’….a full calendar year before this franchise takes the field.

    +1 for betting in favor of the validity of ‘USL announcements’

  36. Steve permalink
    November 15, 2011

    “If USL thinks that the soccer geeks in this area are so fickle that they would drop FCTB for a new ‘upstart’, they have another thing coming. I can honestly see not one fan dropping FCTB for these guys, unless they live in the shadow of USF, have a connection to Brandon Flames FC, or enjoy some PDL on a weekend when FCTB is away.”

    I’ve spent the better part of two years putting blood, sweat, and tears (and more of my own cash than I would like to admit) into FCTB and helping get the supporters group off the ground. And if you present me with a well-funded and well-organized front office putting a soccer team in Hillsborough County? The only response I’ll have is where can I pick up my season tickets.

    Of course, this being the USL, I’m not assuming that they will be either well-funded or well-organized. But if they are, I doubt I’ll be the only person standing in line.

  37. yankiboy permalink
    November 15, 2011

    @Grant: Deal. I’m looking forward to the 2 dozen glazed Dunkin Donuts and the Strawberry Blast smoothie that your money will afford me come April 2013. Hmmmmmm. Donuts…

  38. yankiboy permalink
    November 15, 2011

    @Steve: I gotta bow down to you, Playah. You sound straight up hardcore. Like a prophet without honor in his own land. I sincerely hope that FCTamper Bay appreciates all of your efforts, Kid.

  39. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 15, 2011

    For the record, it is 82.6 miles from USF Soccer stadium to The Citrus Bowl in Orlando, and 33.4 to Al Lang Field. I cant wait to see who the sucker/owner of that franchise is that they would be willing to stake ‘pro money’ on a team in that location. Not one, but two pro teams within 100 miles in either direction that already play in a more professional atmosphere than USF Soccer stadium? Yikes, goooooood luck with that! One team draws near 10K, while the other, Higher level team, will have a three year head start and 3-4 K diehards who enjoy cheering on a team who harkens Tampa’s soccer history? Its not like there are millions of soccer fans on the I-4 corridor! LOL! Talk about your uphill battles. Then, in case all that wasnt enough, put this new team in the worst of those 3 areas (Northeast Tampa aint downtown Tampa!) and now I just feel bad taking Yankiboy’s money! I think this would be a tough ask for an NFL team to be properous in this situation, let alone a D3 soccer team during a recession, in a city hit hard by said recession, with another soccer team competing at a higher level with a recognizable past. Geez! Then, on top of all that…try explaining to the average fan why ‘FC USF Brandon Flames’ DOESNT play FC Tampa Bay except in exhibitions/USOC. The looks that that would bring should be documented and publicly displayed for the halftime amusement of beer drinking FCTB fans….only 33.4 miles away!

    Haha….I dont even think ‘Ruby Tuesday’s’ would take this gamble…

    Here is why I say “not one game above PDL!” IMG is right down I-75 about 40 miles away and would LOVE to have a local rival in PDL. Super Y cant really be be over-extended and Brandon Flames are a notable club. Is it really so hard to imagine yet another press release from USL in 12 months time, where they explain how “Doing the one thing really well….blah blah blah”?

    Now, a question: Didnt The USL used to have some sort of ‘territorial exclusivity’ clause? Would LOVE to be a fly in the wall at that meeting where they have to explain it to IMG, OCFC, and FC VisionPro!

    I hope VisionPro asks ALOT of questions before signing that franchise fee check!

  40. November 15, 2011

    So will VSI also announce they want to be a Tampa MLS team in the future? That would be another shot at Nestor and Tampa FC given they look much closer to death than MLS.

  41. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 15, 2011

    @ Steve….I guess it isnt really “Rowdies till I die!”, is it? You just made me ashamed of my own fanbase. How could you do all the things you said, but then jump into bed with the new girl? ‘Bandwagon’ defined! We arent the New York Yankees…I would think your efforts wouldve given you that perspective. Guess not.

    @ Yankiboy….so if I lose, your saying I can pay you in Dunkin Donuts gift cards? 🙂

    After further reflection, If The USL gets VisionPro or whoever to cut a franchise fee check for this train wreck….they should front a candidate for President in 2012 due to their powers of persuasion.

  42. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 15, 2011

    @ KT….why not? If they can get people to believe spending Saturday nights at USF is fun, they can probably get them to believe MLS is coming back. Ive noticed in my 30 years of watching American soccer that USL’s promises are always much more convincing right before the franchise fee check gets cashed.

    ….and someone said something about ‘Kool-aid drinking’…

  43. Strikers Return permalink
    November 15, 2011

    Haven’t seen anyone else say this, but here goes. Does this feel to anyone else like Holt and Co. trying desperately to cater to what is obviously their new star franchise in Orlando? If you’re the Lions, isn’t your biggest complaint to the league that you’ve got potential away games in Antigua, Los Angeles, and Rochester, but none in your home state, in what has been billed for over a year now as a “regional” league?

    I look at it like this. USL loses NOTHING if this team never gets past PDL level, or hell, if it even dies out after only a year for some reason. They got their expansion fee check, and they thumbed their nose at the NASL yet again in a “war” they are the only one continuing to participate in. Even if Grant is right and this in no meaningful way impacts Rowdies (yes I said Rowdies, because now more than ever that is an imperative move for Nestor) attendance, Holt will still have the satisfaction of having tried, and being at least minorly disruptive to NASL.

    Here’s how you smirk and keep going forward without looking back if you’re FCTB. #1 priority is get the Rowdies name back. I don’t want to here any bs from Kenn or anyone else trying to diminish the effect it will have. The Strikers proved it works by more than TRIPLING their attendance this year. Adding another iconic original NASL brand to the league in Tampa will help not only the team itself, but the league as well. Being able to market a pro soccer team in the Tampa area as the Rowdies is always going to be better than trying to market without that name, no matter the circumstances. #2 keep working on the downtown stadium issue. We’ve heard from all the Tampa fans this year that it’s obvious that downtown Tampa is where a pro soccer stadium needs to be to thrive. But the fanbase needs to be built up before this kind of money is going to be considered, so obviously #1 must come first. With #1 in place, and #2 at least being on the drawing board for a couple of years down the road, you won’t need to worry any more about another local pro team in D2 than the Strikers did when some dope in USL got it in their brain to try putting one in Ft. Lauderdale. If they had gone through with it, that team would be in as dire straits as FCNY and LA right now. No pro soccer fan in Ft. Lauderdale is going to choose a D3 team over the Strikers. Not a chance. And I suspect the same will be able to be said in Tampa as soon as they get back the Rowdies name.

  44. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 15, 2011

    @ Strikers Return….about USL/Holt, I do get the impression, as of today, that they are being ‘disruptive’ to the NASL. I used to respect them, but this decision is against all conventional wisdom and can only be fueled out of spite. Honestly, a pro team in Ocala would be a better idea. At least Ocala could pull from north Orlando, Gainesville, Southern Jacksonville, both coasts, etc. This new team’s ‘exclusive’ town fanbases will be Lutz, Brandon, Plant City, Wesley Chapel, Zephyrhills, Land O’ Lakes, and Temple Terrace. Not exactly the burroughs of London, if you ask me. All other points within The greater Tampa Bay area or I-4 will be ‘split’ between FC VisionPoor, FC Tampa Bay, and Orlando City FC. Like I said before….good luck!

    Ill put the chances of this team’s survival into perspective so that USL fans will understand: A pro team playing at USF under these circumstances will have a ‘life’ a little longer than the ‘International Division’ and a little shorter than The California Victory. They might be able to pull off a ‘Cleveland City Stars’ or ‘New Hampshire Phantoms’ or ‘Western Mass Pioneers’ where they ‘self-relegate’ to another divison within USL…but they will still be subjected to a franchise fee….never forget that!

    But clearly Traffic is the ‘bad guy’ for attempting to comply with The USSF standards, and funding multiple teams in exclusive markets with their very own money. The nerve of such an organization!

  45. thesuperrookie permalink
    November 15, 2011

    How hilarious would it be if the new USL team secured the “Rowdies” name from Classic Ink?


  46. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 15, 2011

    I can see it now…

    Introducing “The Tampa Bay Crowdies!”

    Team Slogan: Were more like ‘The Rowdies” than FC Tampa Bay!

    (While somewhere, USL brass sits and waits for their fragile ego’s to be restored!)

    Team Song: “The Crowdies go here, The Crowdies go there…they move their office around! The Crowdies go here, The Crowdies go there….and then runs into the ground!” “Ohhhh, The Crowdies, The Crowdies….The Crowdies ARRRREEE…one year from ‘defunct!'”…..”When The Crowdies play soccer, a business man goes broke, He shouldnt have listened to Holt, Marcos, and those blokes!” “There’s no Laughs…No Cheers…Only ownership tears…..Well, what else would you expect from a team with NO BEERS?!?!?” (ba ba ba baaa ba ba ba baaa….)

  47. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 15, 2011

    Or this one….

    “F…FC…FC moved Away!!!” (ba bum) “F…FC…FC moved Away!!! (ba bum)

  48. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 15, 2011

    And the always popular…

    “Im Crowdies till ‘bye bye!’ Im Crowdies Till ‘bye bye!’…I know I am, Im sure they will, take my money and go ‘bye bye!'”

  49. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 15, 2011

    @ Superrookie….that would be hilarious…But….the ‘Martinque Rowdies’ wouldnt have the same ring to it when The USL moves them to the ‘new and improved’ Caribbean division in 2014….

  50. Bart permalink
    November 15, 2011

    Ahh, the Children of Corn have now all crowed away. All 15 of you (if even that many), hopelessly wishing, wanting praying for the demise of USL, the one organization that brought you Lauderdale, Tampa Carolina and even Montreal to begin with.

    The parent is truly scorned by the adolescent child, with that child more intelligent and all-knowing than the parent ever could be…..until the child adds a few more years under its belt, a few more pains and hurts and a few more of life’s little adventure. At that point, the child begins to think the parent was not as stupid as he thought they were.

    USL has its faults, but NASL is no panacea, and certainly has no rights to any exclusive territorial measure. The free market is what this country is all about, so let the free market rule! At its worst, this extra team will bring more soccer exposure to the overall Tampa marketplace, and not be isolated on some deserted stretch of land across the Tampa bridge.

    After all, don’t we want more soccer exposure for the good of the game? Can’t we all just get along?

    Obviously not……..

  51. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 15, 2011

    Im waiting for The USL to field a team simply called “The Franchise Fee’s”…of course, based in another city that already has a team. How about The Ft. Lauderdale Franchise Fee’s?! Naturally, they will be in the new USL Pro ‘South American Division’ – USL brass’ great idea to counter Traffic – against such ‘regional’ foes as Aruba, Trinidad and Tobago, and Las Vegas.

  52. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 15, 2011

    @ Bart…When did you become Dr. Spock? And Im taking a break from laughing at the USL business ‘model’ to chuckle at you calling for everyone here to ‘get along!’ Thats rich! Since when have you ever been about ‘the good of the game!’? (I had to re-check the name on your post because I was shocked it came from you!)

    How is a doomed franchise moving into a 116 mile pocket between two other pro teams ‘Good for the game!’? This is where your hypocrisy is blinding me! If NASL said they were gonna start a team in Orlando, they would have to turn off the whole fricking internet to stop you from posting all night about Traffic and Davidson are studpid, and more people dont like Nestor than before! You would have a coronary over how stupid that idea was. This new team is a blatant watering down of the American Soccer structure. Its an obvious sabotage….NOT GOOD for the game!

    Someone PLEASE explain to me how The USL has fixed their errors from the past, because this has ‘Real Maryland FC’ written all over it!

  53. Bart permalink
    November 15, 2011

    @ Grant Stephens-

    I welcome NASL to field a team in Orlando. Frankly, other than the good-hearted Gordon of San Antonio, I welcome NASL to field a new team, period. I also welcome NASL to divest itself of its own teams it is funding, pursuant to the expectations of USSF.

    Most importantly, I welcome that King of King Commish Downs to once again provide an oratory in front of the New York press on why a Women’s Pro Soccer league is ill-advised. For a guy that is supposed to have media savvy, it makes one wonder what brain fart that was all about.

    And frankly Mr. Stephens, I have always been about the good of the game. The fact that you don’t like my opinions on that keeps this blog fresh and entertaining, but it does not make your opinion any better than my own.

  54. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 15, 2011

    Ill reiterate…A PDL team at USF? Great Idea! A Pro team at USF? The worst soccer decision this country has seen since somebody formed The ‘Savannah Rug Ratz’ of The Eastern Indoor Soccer League! (or maybe even just The Eastern Indoor Soccer League!)

    @ Yankiboy…C’mon, man….your a knowledgable guy! I will gladly buy you $50 worth of munchkins and Pumpkin coffee at DD today if you would just retract your bet. You have to know that this is a terrible idea…formed by an organization so filled with terrible ideas, they are soon to announce a team called the ‘NSC Minnesota Bad Ideas’ (of the Caribbean Division)

  55. yankiboy permalink
    November 15, 2011

    “I just feel bad taking Yankiboy’s money!”

    You don’t need to worry about that because I’ll you’ll be funding my DD/BR habit.

    “…so if I lose, your saying I can pay you in Dunkin Donuts gift cards? ”

    Hey. With the global currency and market volatility, I’m thinking about convereting all $234.56 net worth into DD gift cards. Home Simpson and I aren’t the only guys who love donuts.

    Forget the “Gold Standard”. Time to start investing your money into the “Glazed Standard” and a USLPRO franchise in the Tamper area.

  56. thesuperrookie permalink
    November 15, 2011

    FWIW, seems like FC Tampa ownership group is taking notice judging by the most recent tweets from Mr. Nestor. He might delete them so let’s put ’em here for posterity sake:

    Tweet 1: @andy_nestor Andrew Nestor
    New amateur programs in TPA to be announced tomorrow. Would love to see more local players make it to professional ranks with @FC_TampaBay.

    Tweet 2: @andy_nestor Andrew Nestor
    NASL progress great for soccer. Better product, high financial standards, stability. Clear distinction of D1 MLS, D2 NASL, & D3/amateur USL

    There is just something about all of this that sadly reminds me of a team in trouble. I wish it wasn’t the case and I admit that I do not have every fact. I hope the team becomes wildly successful, but it smells a lot like the fall of the Thunder.

    I admit, 100% this is just conjecture and message board fodder.

    Bart- I want to see the NASL succeed. I want to see the USL succeed. Both groups have their problems, but I am all for someone coming in and making a go at it in Tampa.

    Grant- Where are you getting the 3-4000 die hard number? The average attendance for FCTB was 3,009. I understand when you say 3,000 people show up nightly (although a few games had roughly 2,000 people–weeknight games), but I don’t think we just just assume that it is a 3-4,000 number showing up. It is more of a 3,000-3,000 number consistently showing up.

    That said, I am impressed with your string of comments. I just believe that if the new team has its act together and doesn’t consistently make decisions that are unpopular with its fans they can be successful.

    For example, will the new team make all ticket holders wishing to watch the game from the GA berm find a FCTB official to get a signature on a ticket to sit there, while they have purchased actual berm tickets from the box office? What was the point of that exercise? This is what happened to me. Bought a ticket and then went to the berm and was told to walk back to the fan services to get a signature…but I bought a ticket for that area. At least 5 other groups had to do the same thing. How many of those people are going to be stoked to come back to a game after a hassle, an admittedly small one, like that?

    Yankiboy- I don’t need to settle down. I bought season tickets to help support the league. While I wish it was for my Stars I felt it was the right thing to do. I don’t think I got true value from that decision, not from a fiscal standpoint, but for a ROI. The experience, while enjoyable because it is soccer, was lacking in many areas. In short, I would be more inclined to send my money for Minnesota or FTL tickets as I think it is a far better product off the field. Also, you don’t want me to harp about my bonus ticket! 🙂

  57. Steve permalink
    November 15, 2011

    Wow, did this comment section really go off the rails. Grant, maybe dial it back a notch or two. We’re treading into “Thou dost protest too much” territory.

  58. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 15, 2011

    @ Bart…wow…way to drag a whole host of other things into this debate!

    Thats funny, though. If NASL announced expansion, you would freak out that Traffic couldnt pay for it, but its clearly okay for USL to ‘overextend’ itself, even when their reputation is shot on such matters? The ‘hypocrisy meter’ is maxing out!

    Your opinion is your opinion. I just think its funny that you have every last penny The NASL spends documented and doomed, but The USL is the ‘knight in shining armor’ for starting a pro team in a struggling economy, which already has a pro team, and….wait for it…was a team that ‘dissed’ The USL to being with.

    Since ‘child psychology’ is a hobby of yours, The USL reminds me of the child who didnt get what they want but their sibling did, so they pout and do something rash, ultimately making the whole situation worse than before….for both sides!

    Good of the game…chuckling uncontrollably!

  59. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 15, 2011

    @ Superrookie…fair enough. I have retracted my statement of 3-4K to be just 3K+. You are right that there was some nights with only 2K +, but there were also some nights of 4K. This is why its an average.

    @ Steve…I probably wont dial this back. An organization has announced a team that will directly compete with the team that receives my OUR money. VisionPro is trying to render my investment – and yours – useless. If they succeed, there could be no more FCTB, IF FCTB goes, so could NASL. There are plenty on here that would wet themselves with happiness over this. I am not one of those people….and you shouldnt be either. As someone who spends as much time and energy on this as you do, dont you see more of a splitting into two fanbases – Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties? If that happens, how are two teams drawing 1-2 K each ‘good for the game’ when The USL could just ‘move along’ to another city and let this market grow…’For the good of the game!’? My question to you is, why so passive?

    @ Yankiboy…LOL! Your ‘Glazed Standard’ might catch on here!

  60. Strikers Return permalink
    November 15, 2011

    What I normally see around these boards is Bart posting opinions that agree with USL moves and opinions that disagree with NASL moves. But this one is over the top, and Grant has got you dead to rights on this one Bart. A second minor league pro soccer team in the same market is “good for the game” is complete nonsense. All it does is reinforce the obvious truth of your bias.

    There is absolutely no financial or even just common sense information you could post to back the idea it is good for pro soccer in Tampa, or any market, for two teams to have to compete for the fanbase. Minor league soccer struggles enough with attendance, so we need something that will divide a fanbase causing it to never reach it’s full unified potential? Bart have you defended guilty criminals so long that you just come up with these non-sensical, unbelievable defenses for arguments in other parts of your life?

    There is no chance that Tampa can support two minor league pro soccer franchises at a sustainable level. Anyone really want to argue that? So barring any dissension on that point, there isn’t anything to include but either A. The VisionPro Sports people are dumber than rocks, or B. This is an intentional play by Holt and the USL to try and wreck one of the NASL’s franchises, thereby wrecking the entire league. They pushed to try and do the same thing in Ft. Lauderdale last year, until someone, obviously the only person with any brains connected to the scheme, pulled the plug. No chance in hell any pro soccer fans in this market would have supported a team rather than the Strikers. Except maybe the 10 – 15 people in Dade who are somehow deluding themselves still that pro soccer in Miami is viable. But even then, the team would HAVE to be named Miami, and it would then procedd to of course draw flies on par with D3 LA. We’ve all seen this past year that the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers are the only chance this entire area has for long term pro soccer. The foundation is in place, now we, Traffic, or whoever might come in and buy the team from Traffic (STILL waiting for any news on this thought BQ!!!) has to build on it. I strongly believe Tampa can do the same if it has every advantage it can get marketing wise, and the Rowdies name is a huge part of that.

    Again, I reiterate what I’ve been saying all year. FCTB NEEDS the Rowdies name, and the league should be standing shoulder to shoulder with them trying to get it. It’s to the benefit of the entire league that Tampa strengthen itself as a franchise.

  61. Bart permalink
    November 15, 2011

    @ Grant Stephens—you have an “investment”? What you may have is an experience, but to have an investment, you need to anticipate a return on those dollars, and you, my very good friend, don’t own the team (or do you?).

    Nestor has an investment, Traffic has an investment, even Saputo has an investment, but you are a spender, not an investor on this stage. You could even be called a contributor, and a passionate one at that, but an investor? Never.

    As for your fear that FCTB could be no more because of potential competition from a lesser division, well, that just means you have a fear that FCTB does not have a solid foundation to survive the inevitable growth spurt it needs to have. And you may have a valid fear, I don’t know. Al Lang stadium just might have a higher and best use… like a vineyard or a stockyard for aged cattle, you never know.

  62. thesuperrookie permalink
    November 15, 2011

    Why is the Tampa Sports Commission hosting the announcement and participating in the press conference?

    Perhaps they know something we don’t?

    Isn’t it odd that they are doing this when there is already one pro soccer team in the area?

  63. Steve permalink
    November 15, 2011

    This ends one of two ways:

    A.) FCTB sees it as the starting gun to actually turn this into something respectable. Get your trademark. Market the team. Stop pissing off your sponsors. Stop cutting corners. Get a real stadium. Move out of the boondocks (The idea that the front office thinks the fanbase would swallow another five years at Al Lang is laughable). Prove that they can run a full organization competently, and shut down this new team before it can get its feet wet.


    B.) Proceed as they have, piss off everyone who comes into contact with the front office, and go the way of Crystal Palace Baltimore.

    I don’t believe there’s going to be a middle ground here. But no matter what, I plan on being at the press conference in the morning to try and get an idea of what these cats are made of.

  64. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 15, 2011

    “VSI is an independent international business creating and running football academies. Their first training venue is La Manga Club Resort in Spain. It’s believed that VSI plans on creating their second training venue in Tampa with the Brandon FC Flames.”

    Okay…first….how is this any better than what Traffic is doing? Niether are in the business of running a ‘pro’ team, both are foreign entities that could just leave at any minute, but yet something tells me that all of a sudden, this fish out of water has legs to run….right? Let me guess, this example is much more noble than what Traffic is doing….right?

    Funny how Foreign owned VSI starting a second pro team in one area is okay with everyone, but Traffic – who has an Ameican presence with Traffic USA – causes outrage when they fund several teams in different areas. Hypocrisy meter….DING!

    Good grief, The USSF had better publish some standards for D3 quickly so that The USL’s ‘jack’ can go back into ‘The Box!’ Im sure The USSF will have some clause about 3 ‘pro’ teams within any 116 mile strecth thats isnt called ‘New York City’…you know…for the good of the game.

  65. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 15, 2011

    @ Strikers Return….that was my favorite post from you ever! Great work!

  66. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 15, 2011

    Ill tell you why this whole announcement makes me lose respect for The USL. Its a classic game of ‘Chicken’ with no backbone to stand on.

    Its really easy to announce a partnership between a foreign entity and a youth club for teams at the Super Y and PDL level, but then The USL just throws out there that they want to start a Pro team, too? Okay….too bad The USL has a bad habit of announcing teams that never play (which they know…Ft. Lauderdale anyone?) They are playing poker with other people’s money and cards and they know it. They know full well that they can come into the area through their youth divisions and gain a foothold, but they will wise up just short of wasting money to destroy soccer in this town for two pro teams. In classic USL fashion….there is no consequence to ‘announcing’ anything. Thats shady! The whole press conference will undoubtedley be about three things for sure: PDL, Super Y, and Brandon Flames FC. Watch how they make promises, with very little substance with regards to the pro team. Its because they know its a bad idea, but they cant be ‘called’ Since they wussed out of being a D2 league (Methinks so they can fly under The USSF’s radar) and get to make up their own rules as they go. They know that The NASL is handcuffed by the D2 standards. They wouldve been too had they had a lttle spine to give it a go. Instead, they move a franchise closer to the competition and call it D3 with a D2 salary (Orlando) which is shady again…and poor business. They know that they get paid by VSI regardless because all of these levels will have to pay a franchise fee, so they could care less if the Pro League team ever sees the field. The USL clearly wants NASL to fail and will resort to power plays to make it happen. The good of Soccer in this country isnt their motivation. They want revenge and its obvious. Respect lost!

    If the ego’s of the USL front office are so bruised that they would let an ownership groups slug it out for a maximum of 3K fans (the capacity of USF stadium) with the local NASL group, then I hope VSI gets wise before their ‘car’ gets used for this game of chicken. I bet VSI is only worried about the Super Y, The PDL, and The Brandon Flames, and shady ol’ USL brass wants to roll a surprise in with it to watch FCTB sweat. How can there be any other scenario. It almost makes me want to up my bet with Yankiboy because its so ludicrous a situation (but I wont because The USL has no problem starting up teams they know will crash and burn!)

    When your reputation is bad, and your exempt from playing by the rules of your competition, you have no problem pushing the envelope. This, my friends, it The USL business model. Lies, deceit, bruised egos, and more lies!

    Its my hope that the soccer watching public take notice of this. Make The USL stand by their word for this new pro team in Tampa! Use this announcement to see if The USL really has changed their ways, or is just trying to rattle cages. If they start the team and both franchises fail (the most likely scenario), the blood from both will be on USL hands, not NASL. If 2013 comes and they are only PDL/Super Y, then we’ll all know them for what they are…Bold faced Liars!

  67. Bart permalink
    November 15, 2011

    @ Grant Stephens

    Your suppositions are so far off base that it really is baseless to make any substantive comments. First of all, you never had any respect for USL. I don’t know who you are, but you clearly are a disgruntled ex-employee, a disgruntled ex-franchise owner, or you just don’t know the playing field.

    I would also challenge your statement that USL has a bad reputation, in fact, from what I can read and research, that is not the case at all.

  68. WSW permalink
    November 15, 2011

    Actually the more I read the article the less I’m worried it’s not like USL is moving a team that already had a foundation and players like they did with Austin. How many new USL teams were successful this past year????

    Also I have to say this Tampa/St. pete argument is stupid, If st pete had a D3 team and Tampa had a D2 team I would drive to Tampa.

    and also attendance in Tampa was like 800 more fans in it’s inaugural season, FCTB played in Tampa and Tampa fans didn’t support it like every seems to think, ok the location sucked but where the hell will they build a new stadium without NIMBYS getting all pissy.

    Al Lang is next to downtown St. Pete, Nestor said he is looking at a Portland style downtown atmosphere, and the stadium would’nt be that hard to configure, unlike the monstrosity with the mast that the Rays wanted. ROWDIES TIL I DIE.

  69. November 15, 2011

    I’m sick & tired of all this BS. Wake me when it’s over.

  70. November 15, 2011

    Wow I’m way late to the comment fest here.

    A few things. First, this reeks of nothing more than a petty move on the part of USL to shoehorn a team into the TB market(where the league is based if I remember correctly) in an effort to sink or at least somewhat disrupt FCTB and the NASL. It makes no sense. Yes, FCTB is currently in St. Pete and not Tampa, but to think that a D3 team could realistically compete with a D2 team that happens to be the Rowdies(sort of) is asinine. Kinda like forming D3 teams in the biggest MLS markets like NYC and LA, or preaching a “regional” league but having a division with Los Angeles and 4 teams from the Caribbean.

    Second, hopefully at the minimum this forces FCTB to really make a push to get the Rowdies trademark. That is key to them being able to successfully market on either side of the Bay IMO.

    And third, this is directed at soccer fans in the whole Bay Area. Suck it up and drive to Al Lang! No it’s not an ideal setup for soccer, for now. Hopefully the clowns clinging to some kind of hope to keep baseball going on that site give up and let the Rowdies convert it to a full time soccer facility. With a MLB facility a few blocks away and dozens of FSL/Spring Training facilities within 100 miles, there is no reason to keep that place for baseball. Yes, I get it was a historical place. So was the Orange Bowl. It’s lived past it’s usefulness. At least let it have new life as a soccer facility, let some new history be made there.

    I’d kill for that kind of downtown atmosphere at a stadium down here in South Florida. The location is BEAUTIFUL. They just need some seats on the far sideline and on the right field end line at first, nothing more than what Vancouver had at Swangard, some bleachers with tents. If they ever want to get more serious, possibly MLS, they could turn that place into a fabulous SSS, just like Portland did.

    Oh and someone a few dozen posts back suggested they could see a USL Pro team forming in Miami to compete with the Strikers. If that happens, USL really is crazy and someone should send them an Oscar for Best Comedy.

  71. Danwolf permalink
    November 15, 2011

    This is how i view it, USL Tampa expansion team is to FC Tampa Bay what Gobots are to Transformers. And we all know who won that war. Not only did the TRANSFORMERS win that war, They also know own them and use them as cannon fodder.

  72. WSW permalink
    November 15, 2011

    ^^^^^^Best comment on this subject.

  73. WSW permalink
    November 15, 2011

    I meant F19 comment but that one is good too.

  74. Danwolf permalink
    November 15, 2011

    thanks WSW.

  75. Silly permalink
    November 15, 2011

    I think USL is betting on FCTB and NASL to be gone by the time they are ready to go pro. Then there will be no FCTB or Strikers competition. Most real soccer fans will continue to watch soccer.

  76. thesuperrookie permalink
    November 15, 2011

    I smell some trolls.

    That said, the gobots had nothing on the Decepticons, and they are the thorn in the side of Transformers, dummy.

    P.S. Nestor wants a Portland type situation. So does Robert Kraft and Jeff Cooper.

  77. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 15, 2011

    @ WSW….Well stated! I feel the same way. I was amped up about this at lunch time, but now its a real joke! I hope they do it, so when they relocate to Nashville or fold or something, The USL will be exposed for what they are…a joke! Even my wife…who could care less…asked “Who would want to put another soccer team in Tampa? Its not like all those fans who bought jerseys and are in ‘Ralphs Mob’ are gonna give up The Rowdies’ for somebody new!” Priceless! (and I didnt even explain to her the USL’s expansion prowess, or the part about it being a lower division AND having zero beer!)

    Also, your right about the St. Pete/Tampa argument. Its not like The Rays garbage where all the Hillsborough County people say they have a ‘golden ticket’ to sell out attendances, but have no way of proving it. In this instance, we know for a fact that being Tampa based doesnt produce much better numbers. Been there, done that!

    @ F19…PERFECT! I agree with WSW that your post was right on! Only in The USL office is LA near the Caribbean. Too much fun!

    @ Bart…oh, Bart…So, let me get this straight…You feel that The USL does not have a negative reputation when it comes to starting new franchises? Do you realize how isolated your thinking is from the actual events of American Soccer history? You say my “suppositions are so far off base that it really is baseless to make any substantive comments”, but Im not alone here. I didnt ‘dream up’ The California Victory shutting down. I didnt misunderstand the ‘playing field’ when The NH Phantoms dropped from D2 to D3 and thought nobody would notice the change from pro to amateur. Was I mistaken that The Wilmington Hammerheads went away and came back? And I must not have been a ‘disgruntled ex-employee’ of The USL because then I would have some clue as to what happened to The Virginia Beach Mariners….right? I know, I know….Traffic is leaving and The NASL is bleeding money, so this new ‘golden’ franchise moving into a dry college stadium that holds 3K on the outskirts of Northern Tampa is all of a sudden MUCH different than those other examples, correct? Hey, maybe The USL will show their true colors and pull out at the last minute and you wont have to see their failure come to pass…again. Thats what Ive got my money on. Meanwhile, Its ‘Kool-Aid Happy Hour’ in the USL camp…perhaps they can sell that at The USF soccer stadium?

  78. November 15, 2011

    @F19 – There is no way Al Lang could be a SSS. Certainly not for MLS. It is not even a good D2 stadium. The setup just doesn’t work. Too much money to convert a broken down facility for soccer. And the folks there still want it to be a baseball field for some crazy reason. So no luck.

    And that still doesn’t address the problem of the fanbase being in Tampa and not St. Pete. It’s just a bad location. Tampa FC badly needs their own stadium back in Tampa. Of course, don’t hold your breath waiting for one to be built. It is not happening. Not even if Tampa were promised a MLS team.

    With another team coming, either Nestor puts up, or Tampa FC Rowdies go the way of the dodo.

    @thesuperrookie – I find Nestor’s tweets funny. Didn’t he say that Tampa FC would have a youth academy up and running in Saddlebrook back in early 2010? What happened to that??? He shouldn’t even try to joke about another entity producing local talent when his own club doesn’t have the funds to. All that does is remind us of another failure of Tampa FC and the Citrus Group.

  79. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 15, 2011

    @ Silly….thats a great point! Its the only way that The USL could really pull it off, for The NASL to fold up shop. But still, there is going to be a 2012 NASL season, and even if FCTB folded after that, there wouldnt be a ton of time to attract fans to that new team. I agree that most fans would just go watch soccer, but arent we trying to avoid starting new teams every few years? I doubt that I would be able to form much of a bond to a new team if FCTB was just gone after three seasons. I feel like it would send a message to Tampa area soccer fans that the game here isnt on sturdy ground. I might go a couple of times, but I doubt I would buy season tickets or jerseys or even kool-aid at the games.

  80. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 15, 2011

    “With another team coming, either Nestor puts up, or Tampa FC Rowdies go the way of the dodo.”

    Thats It!!! The new team can be called the ‘Dodo’s!’ FC VisionPro Dodos! That way when they become extinct after a season, everyone will understand why.

  81. Stephen permalink
    November 16, 2011

    The fanbase of the Rowdies is NOT in Hillsborough and NOT in Pinellas. It’s split 50/50.

    2010 season had 2 years of build up with the promises of a stadium and the Rowdies name, they had 3,800 fans a game in a weekday heavy schedule.

    2011 season had 4 months of build up with the promise of a rickety old baseball stadium and a no name team (FCTB), they had 3,100 fans in a weekend heavy schedule.

    I’m sorry, but I refuse to believe that NOBODY in Pinellas watches this team. That’s a garbage argument that has absolutely no proof to it. The only people that will be willing to jump ship to this other team are Hillsborough residents that thumb their nose at everyone else in the Bay Area (and most of them didn’t attend more than a few Rowdies games in 2011 anyway because of the move to St Pete). If Nestor is game for some competition, he can survive with another team in Tampa. He just needs to spend some cash on the Rowdies name and try and refocus his advertising strategy. What better way to build a fanbase than by adding fuel to the flame of the Tampa-St Pete rivalry that exists in EVERY other venue in this area? US Open Cup between these two teams would be REALLY interesting. Not to mention, if you get the Rowdies name, then you will still pull fans from the Hillsborough side whose loyalties don’t change.

    I’m Rowdies ‘Till I Die, and I live in Pinellas. USL is a joke. BUILD A BONFIRE!!!

  82. WSW permalink
    November 16, 2011

    @KT Of course you are biased you are employed by USL.

    Just wait til we get our name back, and who says you can’t renovate Al lang field, trust me when Nestor and Co. hand over $$ to mayor Bill Foster and it will be a privately-funded stadium (not public) perceptions will change.

  83. James permalink
    November 16, 2011

    If Nestor and Co. can’t get things done right, and they have had several years to get it right, why can’t someone else who thinks they can get it done come in and do it. Isn’t that what the fans want?

    USL gets criticized for their ‘regional structure’ and it seems like them putting a team in Tampa (their Corporate HQ) will help that cause. Could they have told VSI to put their investment in Jacksonville? Sure, but I bet VSI likes the weather and scenery a lot better in Tampa.

    FCTB fans have given this more press than it should. But its just a D3 club coming in and D2 is better in every way from what I have read. But that’s because they feel that they might lose supporters/fans. Look at what Steve has written…its already started.

    Why do people keep saying USL is starting a war and what not… I haven’t seen any post or tweet saying they are out to teach NASL a lesson. The only tweets I’ve seen is Nestor’s referring D3/USLPro as amateur.

    But hey this is all a year away. And after the dust settles, maybe whatever team survives can be call ‘Tampa Bay United’

  84. James permalink
    November 16, 2011

    Also, IMO using the LA Blues and FCNY as why not to put more than one team from different divisions is a different case than what’s going on. That’s a MLS/D1 vs D3. To the naked eye, causal fans don’t see the difference in D2 and D3.

  85. thesuperrookie permalink
    November 16, 2011

    Stephen- don’t fudge the numbers. The average attendance was 3,009. That is well short of 3,100. It is important we stay honest, or before you know it people will throw around a number 25% higher. That said, it is a respectable number for minor league soccer at this time. Might just not be financially feasible to stay open.

    All- why is the Tampa Sports Commission so involved here? Wouldn’t fctb need them if they were actually pursuing a stadium? When is the friendly versus Everton, because I’ve got a bonus ticket to use? How many more whispers are we going to hear about obtaining naming rights and a new stadium in Tampa before people stop believing the propaganda?

    I’ll be the first to admit I’m wrong when it happens, but I’ve been reading and hearing about these two items for well over two years now, despite being told an announcement is around the corner.

  86. November 16, 2011

    The USL press conference will be carried live on USL Live starting at 9:00 a.m. CT.

  87. Bart permalink
    November 16, 2011

    Folks, how in the world is baby boy Nestor going to get the moolah to give the City for a renovation of Al Lang? I mean really, folks? His group can barely sell enough t-bones to make it through the season, much less raise funds of at least $3,000,000 to do what is needed at Al Lang to make it work.

    Ralph’s Mob will go where the action is, ultimately. It may not be called that at the end of the day, but for those 25 hard core soccer fans who want to make a lot of noise and heckle the opposing team, they will go where they need to in order to live out that fantasy.

    All of the discussion is speculative at best anyway. 2013 is a long way away. Some of you, the Lord willing, will be moving on to higher pastures and get to see the game from a high altitude angle. Others will still be at the ground level, and in the rainy muck.

    And Grant Stephens, let me say this for the recordI hope, once Traffic is out of the picture, that NASL makes it as a D2 league. My issue is the instability of the league due to a vulture foreign organization trying to stake a claim on US soil. Now…there are some obvious bozos owners inside of NASL, but you can say that for any sports organization, and as with Letterman, they make good comic fodder.

  88. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 16, 2011

    @ James…You ask why someone else cant come in and do it when FCTB has had years to get it right. these are infantile businesses, not corporations with tons of backing and years of support. As somone who has lived most of my life in the Tampa area, I can tell you for a fact there is not enough viable or legitimate support out there for two teams to survive. Its just the case. FCTB, contrary to some in our turncoat fanbase like Steve, DOES try to do what they can, DOES provide a nice product for fans to watch, DOES work with the community, DOES market, IS affordable, etc. I know its not marketing on an NFL level, but these teams only draw – what was it Superrookie? – 3129.67 fans per game, and you cant turn water into wine. The Tampa Bay Rays, with their crazy MLB marketing, only draw around 13K or something, and they been around 12 years longer. These things take time, and one sad reality is that minor league soccer fans in this country have very UNREAL expectations. As an FCTB season ticket holder since day 1, I realize as do the smarter percentage of Rowdies’ fans, that its going to be all hands on deck and it wont be pretty for some time, years in fact. All of the financial advisors that come on here and trash Nestor as if he is some bad guy because the cant pay for a stadium to be built or whatever is complete nonsense. What do these critics expect? Its not like there are all sorts of D2 soccer stadiums breaking ground recently. How many NASL, USL, or MLS teams are Fortune 500 companies? None! Are some Fortune 500 companies having difficulties in this climate? Yes! This isnt rocket science. Its time to lower the expectations and up the elbow grease. These teams owners try to make it work for us – the fans – and yet that concept gets totally lost on the impatient. Its sad and dillusional.

    As for USL, They are in the business of running soccer leagues. Thats great! Until yesterday’s announcement, they had my backing. This new development wreaks of revenge. They are based in Tampa, surely they see what all the other residents and soccer fans of this area see…struggles to make it work. The fact that they would try to directly compete with a fledgling team/league is completely legal, Uber-American, and a capitalist’s dream….unfortunately, its also terrible for soccer in this market, lethal even. Surely if there is one thing all leagues can agree on, its that teams folding is bad for everybody. Soccer brands starting and then going away looks fickle to the rest of the ‘ticket buying’ American public, and more importantly, investors. I would think of all the organizations who would understand that, The USL would be one. For the sake of their own survival, they should be looking to ‘grow’ another market, a starving market. Whats wrong with Nashville, Jacksonville, or Birmingham? What VSI does is their business, and I suppose their business is more in line Brandon Flames FC than it is USL Pro. Some may say its more soccer for the fans, but ultimately it will be no soccer for all fans when both teams starve and die. This isnt Liverpool, Its Tampa…and Minor League soccer sits at about 6th most important in sports fan interest. The colleges who are based 2 hours away have more following than FCTB. High School Football will draw more fans than FCTB in some spots here for years to come. Its a fact! Based on this, why ‘water down’ the attendances for two teams? Survival of soccer in this country should be USL and NASL’s focus. Unfortunately, The USL has proven their intentions otherwise…and Im not alone in that thinking.

  89. Bart permalink
    November 16, 2011

    @ Grant Stephens

    It reeks of revenge? I don’t think the USL decision was emotional at all. Tampa has been their headquarters for many, many years, and it makes perfect sense for the largest series of leagues in the US to want a fully integrated owner in their backyard. A role model, if you will.

    And I am also probably not alone in the thinking that you ever “backed” USL and their business. That is completely contrary to your repeated stated positions on this board. Not that it matters, however, as everyone seems to be getting what they want, these days. NASL will survive for one more year and USL seems to be growing as well.

    I would call that a win/win for soccer in the US.

  90. yankiboy permalink
    November 16, 2011

    @Bart: Bro, I am really enjoying your banter with GS but I gotta say that it looked like a reach when you started questioning if Dude is a disgruntled employee and stuff.

    Personally, I have lost respect for the USL and I was a big USL guy and bought the product and still continued to by the product as recently as this summer when I went to see DC United Women play in the W-League.

    Of course, the USLPRO PR debacle screwed me up big time since I planned four summer juants with the idea of supporting the USLPRO/PRSL3 clubs (hey–I’ll never complain about going to PR and fortunately, the Richmond, Harrisburgh PA and Queens trips had a no penalty reservation cancellation for the hotels).

    And while I know we have differing takes on the PR debacle, I still stand by my position that Eco and Holt and company still should have seen that coming–heck, I’m not half as bright as those guys are, I wasn’t privelaged to be in the room when the conversations were taking place but I could freaki’ see that train was more likely than not going to run off the tracks (which was a real shame).

    I know a lot of people–both inside the industry and outside who think that USL has a bad rep–a well earned, bad rep. There is a feeling that they just collect expansion fees and allow people to throw play dough at the wall to see if it sticks (most recently Chicago MISL–seriously–if Peter freakin’ Wilt can’t make it work then how the heck did anyone think that they could just because Wilt was able to throw something together last year???)

    Having said that, I still personally think that USL is the best chance for lower division soccer in the USA. I appreciate everything that Traffic is doing for the second division but I just don’t see how it is sustainable, especially with the recent change of leadership of Traffic USA.

    Had Baltimore stayed with the USL, I think that a rebranded Baltimore club might still be around. That is not a knock on the Medds or Cherneski–they dumped a whole lot of ca$h and energy into that club and for that I am eternally grateful. Their incredible and admirable ambition was an asset but it also presented the club with economic challenges.

    In my opinion, if DCU does get a stadium deal done in the DC area (which I don’t think will happen, I believe that they will move North to the Muthaland (B’more) and rebrand)–then USLPRO would be a better fit for Baltimore than the NASL; nothing has changed my mind about that the third division is where Baltimore should be if DC relocate to Charm City and someone wants to charitably pour their money into the almost thankless world of professional soccer here in Central North America…

  91. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 16, 2011

    And if its a capitalist society we live in, with ‘survival of the fittest’ being the mantra, I will be supporting the better option: FCTB! If this new USL team takes the field, I will do everything in my power to market against them. I will not spend a dime on that team and I will make sure my friends – who know and care nothing of the things stated on this message board – dont either! I will make sure fans understand the D2/D3 distinction. I will not take new fans to every game like I do for FCTB. How American is that?! I will make sure to ‘enlighten’ the soccer fans of this area to the realities with the hopes of eliminating the competiton. It will become my goal, as an FCTB supporter, to make sure the other pro team in Tampa ceases to exist. Like most Americans, I will speak with my wallet, and I know Im not the only FCTB supporter who feels this way. If the new ownership group in Tampa wants a competiton, theyve got it…and their about 3129.675 fans behind (unless they already have Steve!)

  92. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 16, 2011

    @ Bart…Im not an ex-employee. Ive held tickets to several teams and have supported multiple organizations within USL. I have zero bias as you claim and want only for soccer’s survival in this country. Its just no coincidence that the ‘travesties’ in American soccer recently have had The letters U-S-L in front of their names…and I for one am tired of it. You can drone on about how terrible Traffic is and thats your right, but from where I sit, the bad guy is USL and has been for almost a decade. The NASL was born out of a response to USL’s bad busines practices. Thats a fact! I appreciate USL’s lower levels, and would even support a PDL team at USF if thats what it is…but not a pro team.

    Its just time for USL’s business plan to be put where its most effective: The trash can.

  93. November 16, 2011

    One quick note here that no one has touched on so far. A pro team being affiliated with a youth soccer club has very rarely gone over very well here in the States. The NASL has taken and will continue to take the approach of being “agnostic” in this regard and for substantiated reasons. One need to look no further than the defunct Minnesota Thunder when they brought two of the most elite soccer clubs in Minnesota together to form the Minnesota Thunder Academy. While the academy has done well and is now part of the USSF Development Academy, the Thunder struggled to get any sort of support from the youth soccer community after they affiliated with them where in the past a good portion of the teams support had come from youth teams. It was a very big issue and continues to be even with MLS teams. Folks are funny in the U.S. when it comes to youth club affiliation, loyalties and the feeling that someone is “stealing” a player from their club. I’m not saying this can’t work for VSI, but I guarantee this will be an issue at one level or another. It always is.

  94. Grant Stephens permalink
    November 16, 2011

    @ Brian….thats a very interesting take! I have no real knowledge when it comes to such things, but those examples are enlightening.

  95. Strikers Return permalink
    November 16, 2011

    Ah, so the veil is finally lifted. We finally see behind the curtain of bias, insults, disdain, and sometimes just plain nonsense. Your true colors are finally revealed Bart. It’s Traffic that ultimately garners the lion’s share of your bitterness and hate. Pray tell good man, what is it specifcally they have done to draw these feelings from you? Were you one of the LA Blues size crowd in Dade County watching the Miami FC debacle? If so, it all finally makes sense and there are many in South Florida that felt exactly the same way up until this year. Actually, there’s a handful in Dade that still do.

    Otherwise, I’m yet again forced to ask – what exactly is it you have to be mad at Traffic about? Stepping into not one, but at the last moment, two cities in order for the NASL to survive it’s inaugural season? You hate the colors red and yellow and wish a pox on anyone who thinks Ray Hudson is a legend amongst mortal soccer players?!? Or do we really get down to the nuts and bolts of it – the were part of the charge to break away from USL, so they’re now the villian? Saputo has moved on to greener pastures, the Wellmans bailed, so we’ll just direct all that anger and bile at the only remaining entity in the lead of the TOA – Traffic? Pretty weak.

    Instead of villifying Traffic, anyone interested in lower level pro soccer should be hoping they continue to feel their D2 investment is worth it until some new investors can be found and brought in to either existing teams, or new ones. I’m going to keep asking you about the whispered interest in one of Traffic’s teams too BQ! Every post, count on it! LOL All indications are the NASL appears to be a go for 2012, and with the US Open Cup to look forward to as well which is great! Would LOVE to see the Strikers and Rowdies get into that pre-season tournament at Disney with Orlando City as well.

    Year 2 of the NASL is shaping up to be a make or break year. We need to build on the fanbase in every market. The Rowdies need to get their name back. San Antonio needs to continue what has been a nice run up to their inaugural season by continuing to make a splash in their community. We NEED Traffic to be able to divest itself of at least one of it’s three teams. Helps the league, and obviously eases some of the financial burden off of Traffic. And finally, if most of the above gets on track and rolling, we need another expansion announcement to join Ottawa coming into the league in 2013, upping the team total to 10. All lofty goals, but I don’t think any are unrealistic. Time for the clubs as well as us fans to get to work in building our teams. If the teams are strengthened, the league is strengthened, and no amount of petty ridiculous attempts at sabotage by bitter USL brass will make a difference.

  96. Bart permalink
    November 16, 2011


    You make a good point, but ironically this is exactly what USSF wants with its pro leagues and teams. I think the real question is how do you overcome the youth club rivalries to make this successful?

  97. Stephen permalink
    November 16, 2011

    BTW, Superrookie tried to refute my number of 3100 in St Pete by claiming it was 3,009. He is forgetting to add in the crowd numbers for Bolton.

    “Despite an 18 percent decline in tickets distributed from its first season at Steinbrenner Field — Tampa Bay’s average attendance was 3,159 this season, but the club said the actual gate numbers were an average of only 100 fewer fans from last year — the front office saw its first year at Al Lang Field as a success.”

    How this makes sense, I’m not sure, but the number I claimed is in writing right here. 3,159 is the average attendance for every game played at Al Lang in 2011. Can’t lie to the numbers.

  98. thesuperrookie permalink
    November 17, 2011

    Stephen- oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t count the exhibition game since we were talking about NASL games. To use the attendance of a game versus an EPL team is a little bit of a stretch, especially since it is such an embarrassing number.

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