Even with a number of uncertainties at this point, Jacksonville Armada owner Mark Frisch says he intends to continue operations.
The Armada, like other NASL franchises, are left with some questions about the 2017 season. The U.S. Soccer Federation recently postponed its decision on the NASL’s status for 2017, a move that comes as the league has already lost three organizations–Minnesota to the MLS, and Ottawa and Tampa Bay to the USL–and could be on the verge of losing more if the New York Cosmos, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, and Rayo OKC fold.
Meanwhile, the USL is trying to move into second-tier status, a claim that is currently held by the NASL. In light of this uncertainty, Frisch issued a statement that addressed the future of the Armada:
“As I continue to work regarding the Jacksonville Armada’s future, I am committed to doing what I feel is in the best interest of the team’s long-term viability,” said Frisch.
“It is my intention to keep the sport of professional soccer alive in Jacksonville and I am working with my leadership team at the Armada to develop a strategy that does just that. Jacksonville’s soccer fans have proven that it is a viable market – and we are working hard to make sure our vision for the future comes to fruition.”
Once the U.S. Soccer Federation renders its decision on the NASL, it should become clearer where the Armada and other teams will compete next season. Regardless, the Armada will look to boost attendance numbers at Community First Park over their 2016 totals. More from the Florida Times Union:
Average attendances have plummeted from an average of 7,927 in Jacksonville’s inaugural season to 3,499 in 2016 – a decline of about 55 percent. At the lowest point, the Armada drew just 1,254 on Oct. 12 against the Indy Eleven.
Sharp cutbacks took effect in August and September, when the Armada scaled back its game-day expenditures at the Baseball Grounds, stopped sending public relations employees for road games and slashed its budget for support staff.
Those cuts intensified on Dec. 1, when six established employees in departments ranging from communications to marketing to corporate partnerships were dropped from the club’s website.
Overall, the Aramada’s average attendance figure in 2016 ranked ninth in what was then a 12-team NASL.
Image courtesy Jacksonville Armada.