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USSF New Rules…what do they mean to the teams?

Yesterday and today were the big days that Division II teams have been waiting for. What will happen next year? Will there be two separate leagues, the NASL and the USL? Will we see another year of USSF Division 2 soccer again?

At this point, we still don’t know the specifics of that issue. In fact, the August 9th and 10th meetings might not even answer this issue.

Still, while we don’t know how things will be run, we do have an idea of what the requirements are going to be for Division II teams here in the United States.

Inside Minnesota Soccer laid out what the rules are, more than likely, going to be for the next year of competition. The NASL Fanatic has confirmed the IMS story with a number of sources around the league.

According to IMS, a number of requirements will need to be met. First, teams will be required to pay a $750,000 bond 120 days before the season. Second, the majority owner of the teams will have to show a net worth of at least $20 million. Third, the teams need to either have a soccer-specific stadium or plans for a soccer specific stadium, which would need to be built within the next five years.

Therefore, how does this effect your team? Are they in the clear? Are they not? Well, let us take a look.

Austin Aztex

Talking to some people around the USSF world, Austin seems to be in good shape, but maybe just a little “ticked” at the decision. Moving up the ranks, Austin is doing much better than the five-win season they had last year. Still, while the team is doing well on the field, money wise…they aren’t rich.

True, they are doing better than they did last year financially, but will the financial requirements demand too much of the team?

In addition to the financial requirements, Austin will have to work to created a soccer-specific stadium as well. There is a group called Grassroots Austin Stadium Supporters, who advocate having a soccer-specific stadium in the Austin area. And with the USSF’s new requirements, they might have just had their wish granted. We will see how this one plays out.

Carolina RailHawks

All indications are the Carolina are fine as far as meeting the financial requirements. In addition, they already have their soccer-specific stadium in Cary, NC. Therefore, Carolina should be fine.

Ft. Lauderdale Strikers

Since they will be the Strikers next year, and we are talking about next year, we will just call them the Strikers (because I like the name better anyway). The Strikers are owned by Traffic Sports out of Brazil, so money is not a problem for the team. In addition, Traffic bought Ft. Lauderdale Stadium and the surrounding facilities, which are located across the street from the current home of Miami FC, Lockhart Stadium.

Speaking to Fernando Clavijo (US Soccer legend and Director of Soccer for Miami FC) back in March, he showed be a layout of what Traffic plans on doing for the surrounding areas. While everything will be change and, by definition, the facilities will be considered “soccer-specific”, it will still look like a baseball stadium with a soccer pitch in the middle of it. According to the sketches, it will look very similar to what the Tampa Bay Rowdies have at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Therefore, Ft. Lauderdale will be able to continue to play next season.

AC St. Louis

AC St. Louis…what will they do? This seems to be the question on everyone’s mind. And, as of right now, we don’t know.

First, AC St. Louis should be able to meet some of the requirements. But will they actually comply to those requirements? We know that AC St. Louis hasn’t paid (and according to some sources close to the team, still isn’t paying) any NASL fees. If AC cannot pay these simple fees (blaming their current financial situation), will they be able to pay the $750,000 bond? In addition, will they be able to run the team for another year after mishandling the finances this season? Again, another question.

Still, if Jeff Cooper is able to show that he has a net worth of $20 million (which rumors have it that he is worth right around that amount), will the NASL accept him? Would the USL accept him? And if there is another version of the USSF D2 next season, could AC St. Louis essentially become a “Notre Dame”, and be a team independent of either league? Again, another interesting question to ask.

The big question with St. Louis is if they will be able to fork over the $750,000. We should know sometime in January. If they can, then we have to see what league they associate themselves with (assuming that the NASL is tired of dealing with a team that hasn’t paid dues for months). Very big unknowns in St. Louis right now.

Crystal Palace Baltimore

While AC St. Louis is the big unknown, Crystal Palace Baltimore might be the big known.

So far this year, they have had a number of financial troubles. The have borrowed money from both the USSF and the NASL. In addition, Crystal Palace has been rumored to have accepted money from other outside sources as well. Still, this doesn’t seem to be enough for team to stay afloat.

Also, Paul Angelo Stadium isn’t a soccer-specific stadium. And if the club doesn’t have the money to run day-to-day operations, then surely it doesn’t have the money for a soccer-specific stadium. Looks like Crystal Palace might be dead in the water next year.

Rochester Rhinos

Rochester is in a good position. The financial wreck that Steve Donner left behind has now been cleaned up by new owner Rob Clark. In addition, they run a very tight ship and have a soccer-specific stadium. Good to see that Rochester will be around for a while.

NSC Minnesota

According to IMS, Minnesota is in a unique situation. The team is a “non-profit” organization. Therefore, it will be extremely hard for them to fork over the $750,000 bond and show $20 million in ownership net worth. Therefore, we will see if there might be special stipulations made for Minnesota.

FC Tampa Bay Rowdies

While Tampa Bay seems to be good on financial terms. It is the soccer-specific stadium that is the big question.

The team tried to get a soccer specific stadium before this season started but withdrew their bid from the city commission because neighborhoods surrounding the proposed sight complained about potential noise and traffic problems. The best part of the project was that one of the Rowdies’ owners, David Laxter, already owns the land.
FC Tampa Bay plans on revisiting this potential site and possibly bring it before the commission again, but they are also looking into other venues in Hillsborough County. There are plenty of plausible sites, including downtown and the fairgrounds. Their plans already involved building a soccer specific stadium, but next year the Rowdies may be back at Steinbrenner Field with a stadium still being a few years away. (Thanks Garrett and Steve for the Stadium information).

Orlando franchise (USL)

As with the case of St. Louis, Orlando is still a big unknown. We really don’t know who owns the team. We really don’t know who runs the team. We really don’t know if the team can pay the $750,000 bond or show $20 million in net worth for the majority owner. We really have no clue on this team.

The only thing we know is that the Orlando Titans (indoor lacrosse team) and their ownership group, who is part owners of the Orlando USL franchise, said they will not participate in the upcoming indoor lacrosse. Still, sources say that this will not effect the soccer club.

In addition to not knowing who the owners are, the club will have a hard time trying to comply with a soccer-specific stadium requirement. The City of Orlando just forked over money to build a new “O-Rena” (home of the Magic), so it is unlikely they will dish out a few million more for a soccer-specific stadium. Still, the city is considering relocating the Citrus Bowl (Orlando’s bowl football stadium) to near the Convention Center on International Drive. Could the city also build a soccer-specific stadium in the location of the proposed Citrus Bowl? If Orland doesn’t want to foot the bill, both Orange County and Kissimmee could consider footing it. Still, Orlando is very conservative when it comes to spending tax-payer money for any sport’s facility. Therefore, Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom seems more real than a solid USL franchise in The City Beautiful.

Edmonton FC

Edmonton FC is expected to pass the criteria. They have a good organization, they have the money, and are expected to have plans for a soccer-specific stadium, according to league sources. Therefore, we expect to see Edmonton FC up and running on all cylinders next year.


7 Responses

  1. If you are all wondering why I don’t have Puerto Rico on there, I really don’t know as much about their situation. Sorry all.

  2. Thanks for the low down. Sadly, as a AC St. Louis fan, there are more questions than answers.

  3. To be a FIFA sanctioned league don’t you have to have a minimum of 8 teams? With Portland and Vancouver leaving next season, and Montreal the year following, they better be careful unless there might not be a league at all.

    • Yeah Steve, that is kind of the worry for some people in the league front office. But here is the big problem…even with the exclusion of those three teams to the MLS, how many of the current teams will be able to keep the other commitments?

      As of now, we know for next year that Rochester, Miami, Tampa (if they get their stadium, which they should), Carolina, Montreal, Edmonton and, more than likely, the Aztex are coming over (if all the speculation is correct). That is seven. If the NASL decides to keep AC St. Louis, that is seven. If the USSF allows Minnesota in because of their special circumstances, that is eight. Still, we don’t know what is the deal with the last two yet.

      Now, there is something that I was wondering, and I am sure someone has asked this before. We have Canadian teams….so why is the USSF laying out the rules? Is it because the headquarters is located in the US? The majority of teams in the US? I don’t know the process really.

      Basically, if the NASL moved its HQ to Toronto, could they avoid this? Just wondering aloud.

  4. Just FYI, Traffic Sports tried to buy the Ft. Lauderdale Stadium complex but the city is now heavily leaning towards letting the Schiltterbahn Amusement company build a water park there. However, Lockhart is staying and the water park folks want soccer to stay, so things still look good for that location.

    • Area they still going to play at Lockhart of do they still plan on converting that on stadium across the street?

  5. Yeah, Lockhart is still good, but Ft Lauderdale Stadium is in question.



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