The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Crystal Palace Baltimore have joined the new professional soccer league announced last week, beginning play in the United States and Canada in April 2010.
The addition of Tampa Bay and Baltimore brings the new league to nine teams, as they join the owners of the Atlanta Silverbacks, Carolina RailHawks, Miami FC, Minnesota Thunder, Montreal Impact, St. Louis Soccer United and Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
A name for the new league will be announced next week. The new league is also active in its search for a full-time commissioner and will introduce an extensive marketing campaign in the coming months.
"Tampa and Baltimore joining our efforts is a testament to our game plan, our current ownership strength and our promise for the future. The ownership groups of both teams share our vision for soccer in North America and we are thrilled to welcome them to our new league," said Joey Saputo, chairman of the board of governors and president of the Montreal Impact.
"As we start a new team and build a strong franchise in Tampa, it’s important that our group of team owners learn from past mistakes in North American soccer and focus on building a strong league, as well," said Andrew Nestor, owner and president of the Tampa Bay Rowdies. "With this new team-owned and controlled league which consists of some of the most established teams in North American soccer, we are excited about our team and collective future."
"Crystal Palace Baltimore is pleased and honoured to join and be a part of what we see as the future of North American soccer. We are particularly excited about the structure of a team-controlled and owned league, especially when you look at the quality of owners that we have in this league and the impressive history of the clubs," said Pete Medd, co-owner of Crystal Palace Baltimore. "We are proud to be one of the founding members and believe it’s the right league, at the right time for us and for soccer in North America."
TEAM AND OWNERSHIP BACKGROUND:
Tampa Bay Rowdies
The Tampa Bay Rowdies are owned by TBR Holdings, founded by Andrew Nestor and Hinds Howard. Nestor and Howard are the managing partners of Citrus Ventures, a venture firm and advisory merchant bank with operations in Boston, Houston and Tampa. Citrus Venture’s main portfolio companies are TBR Holdings and Curbstone Group, a unique money management firm. Tampa Bay’s ownership group also includes David Laxer, owner of the legendary Bern’s Steak House, voted number one steak house in the US in 2009 by Rachael Ray Magazine.
Rounding out Tampa’s ownership group is Don Kendall, founder of Houston-based hedge fund Kenmont Investments, and Jeff MacDonald, former professional soccer player and managing director at First Reserve Corporation, a multi-billion dollar private equity firm. The Tampa Bay Rowdies were Tampa’s first professional sports franchise originally founded in 1975 in the North American Soccer League and is recognized internationally as a significant part of soccer’s birth in the US.
Crystal Palace Baltimore
Crystal Palace FC USA was founded in 2006 with the help and guidance of the world-renowned Crystal Palace Football Club in the UK, one of the founding members of the Premier League, the richest sporting league in the world. Crystal Palace USA is the first professional soccer team in the USA with a direct link to a professional English football (soccer) team. Crystal Palace Football Club (UK) is a professional soccer club founded in 1905 in south London. Crystal Palace UK chairman, Simon Jordan, saw an opportunity not only to develop the footprint of Crystal Palace worldwide, but more specifically to tap into the under-appreciated pool of American soccer talent. Several senior and youth players from Crystal Palace USA have spent time training in London with the English team.
Founded in 2007, the club's senior professional team competed under the name Crystal Palace Baltimore in the 10-team Second Division of the United Soccer Leagues. CPFC made the semifinals in just their second year of existence in 2008. It was also 2008 when CPFC reached the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup in just their second year, putting them in the top eight of all soccer teams in America for 2008. Along the way, CPFC USA defeated Major League Soccer’s (MLS) New York Red Bulls (who later went on to finish in second place in MLS) 2-0 and tied MLS champion and league leading New England Revolution 1-1, only to lose a heartbreaking penalty shootout to just miss out on the semifinals.
Crystal Palace USA is owned by:
Chairman of Crystal Palace USA. Owner of Rafeen Farm Stables, thoroughbred racehorse farm in Maryland. Currently a real estate investor and successful options trader. Randall resides in Delray Beach, Florida.
Former professional soccer player, Pete has his degree in economics and has been an entrepreneur in real estate, the mortgage industry, and internet marketing. Pete has coached at the senior college, junior college, youth and professional levels for 12 years. Pete was the youngest member of the USL Executive Committee.
Professional soccer player for 10+ years, Jim is the founder of Crystal Palace FC USA. Jim is the head scout for North America for Crystal Palace UK as well as manages the first team in America while overseeing all the youth development for the American side.
Randall, Pete and Jim have teamed up on other soccer tour ventures in the past including bringing Sporting Lisbon and Crystal Palace FC to America.