- December 24, 2016
Jerry Vainisi had seen enough.
After visiting the Premier Sports Campus at Lakewood Ranch for the first time last October, the Major League Football Chief Executive Officer didn’t want to look anywhere else.
Vainisi felt the 146-acre sports complex was the perfect place for the professional spring football league, which is slated to kick off its inaugural season in 2016, to house its headquarters and training camp.
On Friday afternoon, MLFB executives officially announced they will in fact be bringing football to Lakewood Ranch.
“I’m very excited to be here,” Vainisi says. “I call this reality day or dream come true day. We are delighted and couldn’t be happier that our world headquarters will be here in Lakewood Ranch.
“When we saw Premier, it almost became a no brainer for us,” Vainisi says. “We think it’s a win-win for Manatee County and Major League Football; and we are truly excited and thankful about the opportunity.”
Major League Football, Inc. is single entity sports league, meaning the league itself owns all 10 of its franchises. However, MLFB is publicly traded, allowing fans and other investors to own a proportionate share of the league.
The idea for MLFB originated about seven years ago when a group of former NFL players, coaches and general managers saw that there was a year-round interest in football from a fan base standpoint.
Rather than trying to compete with the NFL, college football and high school football in the fall, MLFB began looking at the possibility of having a spring season as a way to give players additional opportunities to further improve and showcase their skills.
MLFB will move into its new space July 1 and will hold its first training camp in February 2016 with its first season scheduled to begin in mid-March 2016.
The league will be home to 10 teams with each team bringing 80 players to training camp. Players will be selected through both a regional draft, in which a team will have preferential rights to a certain number of players that played in the surrounding area, as well as a regular allocation draft.
Rosters will eventually be cut down from 80 players to 45 active players with an additional eight or so practice squad members.
Teams will play at least 10 games, with the possibility of 12 games, beginning in mid-March and ending in June. MLFB also will have at least one round of playoff games with a championship game to wrap up the season.
“It’s going to be great exposure for our community,” says Antonio Saviano, director of sports at Premier Sports Campus. “This is going to take us to the next level having Major League Football here. We already have U.S. soccer, which is great, but this is going to put us to (whole) other level.”
For a complete story on MLFB and its move to Lakewood Ranch pick up the June 11 issue of the East County Observer.
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].