The Fort Lauderdale Strikers have taken a step into the right direction once again as they announced that Traffic Sports, the company that owns the team, has appointed Tim Robbie to the position of Managing Director of Team Personnel and Stadium Development with the task of securing a long-term home at a soccer-specific stadium in South Florida.
“The success of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers requires a facility which enables the team to give the fans, sponsors and media the experience they expect in professional sports today,” said Aaron Davidson, President of Traffic Sports USA.
“Traffic Sports has given me a mandate to seek a permanent, first class home for the Strikers,” said Tim Robbie. “Our top priority is to work with the city of Fort Lauderdale to renovate Lockhart Stadium as part of the overall development of the area.”
“However,” continued Robbie. “We are prepared to explore any and all options for a new soccer facility in the South Florida area. Given the numerous meetings and conversations I have had on the matter, I am optimistic our efforts to find a worthy, long-term home for the Strikers will be successful.”
Robbie’s previous position of team president will be assumed by Tom Mulroy, an industry veteran with ties to the South Florida soccer community reaching back more than 35 years.
“It’s an honor to serve as the president of one of the most historic soccer franchises in America,” added Mulroy. “It’s very exciting to become president of the club with the growth of the NASL and to have the opportunity to work side by side with Tim Robbie to fulfill this commitment of establishing a permanent home stadium for the Strikers. I am thrilled to be part of it all.”
Robbie had served as president of the Strikers since 2011, when the team tripled its average attendance from the previous year and ended the season as runners-up in the NASL Championship Series.
“I have the greatest respect for Tim and for what he has done with the Strikers,” said Mulroy. “I have some big shoes to fill.”
Mulroy first came into contact with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers back in 1976 when he was signed by the team as a player. “From starting as a player with this franchise and now being president, it’s a complete honor,” said Mulroy.
“The background that Tom has in soccer, his love for the game and the community, and his passion to see the game succeed are going to be of tremendous benefit for the Strikers going forward,” Robbie said of his successor.
Lockhart was the home field for both the original Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the original North American Soccer League as well as Miami Fusion F.C. of Major League Soccer.
During the gap in which the Miami Fusion folded and the re-branded Fort Lauderdale Strikers began play, the stadium was used for high school football games for Fort Lauderdale High School, Stranahan High School, Northeast High School, and Dillard High School for home high school football games. The stadium also served as the home of the Florida Atlantic University football team from 2003 until 2010.
“Lockhart is a facility filled with rich soccer history,” said Robbie. “However, there is no doubt it certainly needs to be upgraded to meet the needs of a permanent home for a professional soccer team in South Florida.”
“Finding a permanent home, an 8,000 to 10,000-seat stadium, is an evident progression,” added Mulroy. “The re-branding of the Strikers has had a lot of community success, and the people at Traffic Sports are committed with the team and they want them to be around for a long time. It’s how all the successful teams do it.”
The Strikers averaged 3,615 fans this season, which ranked fourth in the NASL. San Antonio drew over 9,176 per game in their inaugural season, and next season they will move to Toyota Field, an 8,000-seat soccer-specific stadium funded entirely with private money.
“The fact the ownership is committed to a stadium is the reason I thought it was the right time to be involved,” said Mulroy of why he accepted the position of team president. “I think that having a place a team can call home is key to keeping a soccer franchise in South Florida for the long haul.”
© Copyright 2012Pedro Heizer, All rights Reserved. Written For: 90 Minutes Strong
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