The Fort Lauderdale Strikers are looking for a permanent home. The NASL soccer team on Tuesday named longtime local promoter Tom Mulroy as president and shifted former president Tim Robbie to Managing Director of Team Personnel and Stadium Development.
Robbie’s task will be to find the team a long-term home at a soccer-specific stadium in South Florida. Mulroy, who has worked in this market for 35 years and is highly respected in soccer circles, feels the team will never really catch on unless it has a full-time home. The team has been renting Fort Lauderdale’s Lockhart Stadium on an annual basis.
“It’s like having a house without a foundation,” Mulroy said. “It doesn’t work in the long run. We need a permanent house, an 8,000- to 10,000-seat stadium with first-class hospitality, centrally located, somewhere that makes sense. We need to be someplace with entertainment options in the neighborhood, not just a stadium on an island. It’s how all the successful teams do it.’’
The Strikers, who are owned by Traffic Sports USA, averaged 3,615 fans this season, which ranked fourth in the eight-team league. San Antonio had the biggest fan base, with 9,176 per game. Next season, San Antonio will move to Toyota Field, an 8,000-seat soccer-specific stadium funded entirely with private money. The New York Cosmos will return in 2013 and play at 13,000-seat James M. Shuart Stadium in Hempstead, N.Y., and the Puerto Rico Islanders will enjoy a full season at the renovated Estadio Juan Ramün Loubriel.
“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.
Mulroy has worked in every soccer capacity imaginable, and said he brings the Strikers “super passion for the game, and a true understanding of this unique market.
“There are a lot of people who still don’t know who the Strikers are, and I want to change that. I’ve seen it all down here, learned from the mistakes, and I still believe pro soccer can work here, if done the right way.’’