Jacksonville awarded NASL expansion franchise
New team will begin play in 2015
DALLAS – The long wait for professional soccer in Jacksonville is finally complete.
The North American Soccer League (NASL) Board of Governors awarded Jacksonville an expansion franchise – bringing professional soccer back to the First Coast since 1982.
"This is an exciting day for soccer fans in Jacksonville and throughout Northeast Florida," said Mark Frisch, the owner of the Jacksonville franchise through his company, Sunshine Soccer Group. "The growth of soccer in our area the past few years is impressive. We look forward to working with our soccer community to further the growth of the sport as the franchise kicks off in 2015.
"I also thank the NASL Board of Governors for believing in our great city and look forward to being a productive member of the league in the future."
The awarding of franchises to the respective Jacksonville and Oklahoma City ownership groups bring the number of teams scheduled to compete for the NASL Soccer Bowl during the 2015 season to 14, with a total of three clubs playing in the soccer hotbed state of Florida.
"I have seen first hand the desire the Jacksonville community has for a professional soccer team to call its own and believe this is a great move for soccer in Florida," said NASL commissioner Bill Peterson. "The Sunshine Soccer Group is creating another in-state rivalry for our teams the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Fort Lauderdale Strikers, appealing to the global soccer passion for local derbies that are always special occasions."
In the last two years, Jacksonville has set new attendance record for U.S. men's and women's team matches at EverBank Field – with more than 42,000 fans in attendance when the U.S. men hosted Scotland.
"Thanks to the vision of Mark Frisch and the Sunshine Soccer Group, Jacksonville welcomes the NASL to our city," said Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown. "The word is getting out that Jacksonville is a great sports destination and we look forward to working with Mark and the NASL on building a championship franchise and fan support for the first kickoff in 2015."
To celebrate the team's announcement, fans are encouraged to join the ownership group in the Terrace Suites at EverBank Field on Sunday to watch the U.S. compete in the Gold Cup final. Gates open at 3 p.m. (one hour before the match).
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