Major League Soccer in Jacksonville?

Published On: Dec 07 2012 04:51:07 PM EST
Updated On: Dec 07 2012 05:08:52 PM EST

Paulo Whitaker / Reuters

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

A Major League Soccer team in Jacksonville?

Mayor Alvin Brown says that may not be as crazy as it sounds for some.

Brown said Friday the city has feelers out to bring a professional soccer team to the River City, a move he said wouldn't happen until 2025.

MLS has been open to expansion, particularly in the Southeast, but Jacksonville has not been a target. The mayor is trying to change that.

"I can envision us having a professional soccer team one day in Jacksonville," he said.

Brown said he sees many soccer enthusiasts here and says the city really scored when it hosted the Scotland-USA game in May, when 47,000 fans showed up to EverBank Field.

"I think it's more than a wish. I think it could happen," Brown said. "Maybe we start off with a minor league soccer team and grow into a professional. But I think it's more than a wish."

"There is no question in my mind you could have professional soccer here succeed," said Dick Kravitz, former general manager of the Jacksonville Tea Men.

Former state legislator and City Council member Kravitz used to head up the Tea Men, a professional soccer team in the River City. The team was part of the North American Soccer League, which folded in the early 1980s.

Kravitz sees professional soccer in Jacksonville again as a possibility.

Things have changed since he headed up the team. Kravitz said there are more people in the city now. There is a television market for soccer, and girls are now playing the sport. But he said there are some things that could hold the city back.

"The key thing is local investment," Kravitz said. "You still need to get an investor, and plus, Orlando has been very active. That market looking for Major League Soccer, so you have that competition."

Brown does not see that as a problem.

"I believe that soccer is one of those sports that eventually will be in Jacksonville," the mayor said.

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