USL SoccerFest coming to Tampa.

TAMPA, FL – United Soccer Leagues and the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, in conjunction with the Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department, announced Monday the inaugural USL SoccerFest will be held in Tampa, the home of the organization’s headquarters, in the fall of 2005. The USL SoccerFest is comprised of the USL 2005 Annual General Meeting and the Super Y-League North American Finals.

The USL SoccerFest is expected to become an annual event in Tampa with a multi-year partnership between USL and the TBSC being finalized that would make Tampa the home of the USL SoccerFest through 2008. Future editions of the USL SoccerFest are expected to feature the USL AGM and SYL North American Finals being held concurrently.

“I am very proud to announce that we are bringing the USL SoccerFest to Tampa, my personal and soccer home,” said USL President and Founder Francisco Marcos, who served as director of public relations and vice president of soccer operations for the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the North American Soccer League for eight years in the 70′s. “Heading into our 10th year with our headquarters in Tampa and 20th overall, there could be no more fitting place to hold the USL SoccerFest. We feel this event will be the beginning of many wonderful things in the Tampa area for the soccer community.”

“We could not be more excited to form this dynamic partnership with United Soccer Leagues,” said TBSC Executive Director Rob Higgins. “This announcement will have a tremendous economic and social impact on our incredible soccer community.”

2005 USL AGM

The Annual General Meeting, USL’s annual gathering of team executives and soccer dignitaries for operations and strategic planning meetings returns to Tampa for the first time since 1997 after holding the event in Clearwater the past seven years. This year’s AGM will be held October 29-31.

Every year, over 300 team owners, executives and other important figures in the soccer community meet at the USL AGM to discuss important soccer issues. This three-day conference will feature representatives from each of USL’s senior teams as well as other soccer dignitaries.

2005 SYL North American Finals

USL’s biggest event, the Super Y-League North American Finals comes to Tampa for the first time, November 17-22. Founded in 1999, the league’s championship events have been to Raleigh, NC, Rockford, IL, Orlando, FL, Philadelphia, PA, Cleveland, OH and Atlanta, GA.

The SYL North American Finals, regarded as the top youth soccer event in North America, is a five-day tournament that includes over 140 of the best youth soccer teams in the US and Canada from U13 to U17 for boys and girls. Teams will qualify from their respective regions and will face the best from around North America in a quest to become league champions. The event will include over 5,000 players, parents and spectators. The 2004 finals featured teams from Vancouver to Miami with teams representing some of the top professional clubs in the nation such as Major League Soccer’s DC United and MetroStars.

The Super Y-League is a professionalized system that is the first step for developing youth soccer players in North America. Affiliated with US Soccer, the league is designed for talented youth players destined for professional or international careers such as Freddy Adu, who played for the DC United U14 squad at the age of 12. Through Olympic Development Program status events such as the SYL North American Finals and SYL ODP Camps, the nation’s top players are selected for National Team programs.

Grand Hyatt – Tampa Bay

The Grand Hyatt – Tampa Bay, located near Tampa International Airport, will serve as the host hotel for both events. The Grand Hyatt is a 14-story tower featuring 445 deluxe guest rooms, including 23 suites, 45 separate Casitas, conference facilities and three outstanding restaurants. It is all located on a 35-acre wildlife preserve directly on the shores of Tampa Bay. For more about the Grand Hyatt – Tampa Bay, visit grandtampabay.hyatt.com

Ed Radice Soccer Complex

The majority of the 2005 SYL North American Finals will be played at the Ed Radice Soccer Complex, home of Hillsborough County United, a member of the Super Y-League. Additional games will be played at the University of South Florida’s recreation fields.

Francisco Marcos and Tampa Soccer History

The Tampa Bay Rowdies were members of the North American Soccer League from 1975-84 and were one of the most successful teams in the league on and off the field, drawing crowds in excess of 40,000 and winning the Soccer Bowl in its inaugural season. The team went on to reach the final three more times and capture the indoor championship in 1980. While with the Rowdies, Marcos was visible in the community as host of a weekly radio show and color commentator for televised games. Under Marcos’ tutelage, the Tampa Bay Area’s youth soccer organization would blossom into the Florida Youth Soccer Association. A native of Portugal, Marcos is recognized by his peers as a key figure in the international soccer community. He serves or has served on the board of directors of US Soccer, the US Soccer Foundation, the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and the US Soccer Governing task force. Fluent in five languages, he has also served as head of delegation for numerous US Soccer trips abroad and liaison for visiting teams such as Brazil. Marcos has been honored by the NSCAA with a letter of commendation in 2005 and has been inducted into the Hartwick College and USL Hall of Fames.

United Soccer Leagues

As the largest organization of elite-level soccer leagues in North America, United Soccer Leagues is dedicated to growing the sport at the grassroots level in every community across the US and Canada. Founded in the fall of 1986, USL and its franchises are committed to a quality family entertainment experience that is community-centered, accessible, affordable, exciting and educational. In addition to the Super Y-League, USL consists of a two-tiered professional division (USL First Division and USL Second Division) and men’s and women’s amateur leagues (Premier Development League and W-League). For more information about USL, visit www.USLsoccer.com

Tampa Bay Sports Commission

The Tampa Bay Sports Commission is a private, non-profit, 501c3, charitable corporation that serves the entire Tampa Bay area as the lead organization for bidding on and hosting major amateur sporting events. Their mission is to attract, promote and/or organize major amateur sporting events, and grassroots youth sports programs, that foster the ongoing development and quality of life for the entire Tampa Bay area. The Tampa Bay Sports Commission works to unite all interests in the Bay Area under one full-service approach that provides leadership and guidance for the benefit of all parties involved with amateur and youth sports. The Sports Commission works with the Tampa Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau to provide a wealth of services to potential events and their governing bodies. For more information about the TBSC, visit www.tampabaysports.org

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