Move over Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer is coming to Oldsmar!
Thanks to a new partnership between Visit St. Pete Clearwater and the New York Red Bulls, the MLS team will hold a two-week training camp at the Oldsmar Sports Complex Jan 22-Feb 3, 2018.
The deal is reportedly a one-year agreement and will feature the Red Bulls hosting practices, scrimmages and preseason games with other MLS clubs at the site.
“MLS representatives came to the League of Mayors conference about three years ago when the (DC) United started playing in Clearwater,” Mayor Doug Bevis explained on Tuesday afternoon, shortly after the agreement was announced. “And I brought the info to our council members and city manager and started looking into bringing a team to Oldsmar.”
“We think it fits with what we’re trying to do here, which is bring world-class sporting events to our city.”
The partnership was possible thanks to the Master Plan upgrade of the Tampa Road facility, which included improvements to the fields that began in November.
“We have completely renovated Fields 2 and 3,” Oldsmar Leisure Services Director Felicia Donnelly said of the complex, formerly known as Canal Park, noting the work included laser grading the fields so they’re level, installing new base material and turf as well other measures.
“We have a full-field that qualifies as a FIFA regulation sized field, as well as a smaller practice field for teams to use.”
Mayor Bevis said the field improvements not only helped bring MLS soccer to the city, but will also be of great benefit to the local youth soccer community.
“The most important part is it’s phenomenal for our kids and our youth soccer programs,” he said, noting the nearby BMX Supercross track has helped bring international riders to town while simultaneously boosting the local ridership scene.
‘They’re really going to benefit from interacting with an MLS team.”
According to a press release announcing the deal, the move will make the Red Bulls the third MLS team to call Pinellas County its spring training home, joining DC United and the Philadelphia Union in Clearwater.
“We are pleased to have the opportunity to partner with Visit St. Pete/Clearwater,” Marc de Grandpre, General Manager of the New York Red Bulls, said in the release.
“Our entire technical staff and players look forward spending a crucial two weeks training at the refurbished Oldsmar Sports Complex this upcoming season and hopefully for years to come.”
The news is the latest major sports related announcement for Oldsmar.
While the plan to bring the Tampa Bay Rays to town is all but dead, the city’s world class BMX Supercross track will host a pair of huge events in the next six weeks—the SSA Florida Cup this weekend, and the annual Gator Nationals at the end of February.
“This is one part of the bigger picture of sports tourism in Pinellas County, and tourism in general,” Bevis said.
“There’s no way to measure the value of them being here and the effect on the sport and our youth moving forward. We’re really excited about it.”