A new Jacksonville Armada owner is expected to be announced this week, as the NASL is expected to announce on Tuesday that Florida businessman Robert Palmer is taking control of the team from the league.
The league was forced to step in when original Armada owner Mark Frisch decided to walk away from the sport and the league at the end of the 2016 season. With the NASL unwilling to give up what’s considered to be a potentially good market, league ownership stepped in to run the Armada for the spring season. But that apparently will change, per the Florida Times-Union:
A league executive confirmed that the NASL is helping to “facilitate an ownership change” and that the new ownership group was “committed to staying in Jacksonville.”
Palmer, 37, is the chief executive officer of RP Funding, a direct mortgage lender based in Maitland, just north of Orlando. He would become the second owner of the Armada, which was founded in July 2013 and began NASL competition in April 2015.
A native of Lakeland, Palmer owns a home in Neptune Beach and served as a member of the Jax Chamber board of directors in 2016. He is also the host of a radio show, Saving Thousands, and heads several other businesses related to the real estate industry under the Robert Palmer Companies umbrella.
Armada chief operating officer Marshall Happer confirmed that a “major announcement” is coming Tuesday, but declined to elaborate further.
The Armada has been run on a limited budget, with a minimal front office and the smallest player roster allowed. The team moved play from The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville to the University of North Florida’s Hodges Stadium this season. That’s led to a 13 percent decrease in attendance, but it also lowered operating experiences. At the home of the Jacksonville Suns, the NASL team reportedly incurred the expense of converting the field from baseball to soccer and vice versa.
This is not Palmer’s first foray into professional sports. He purchased naming rights to RP Funding Center, the new home of the G-League Lakeland Magic.
Image courtesy Jacksonville Armada.