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Jacksonville could house professional soccer

Jacksonville hasn't regularly hosted professional soccer for nearly 30 years, but mayor Alvin Brown says a return is possible.

Gary Bogdon

Jacksonville mayor Alvin Brown says "there's a lot of interest" in professional soccer returning to Jacksonville, according to the Florida Times-Union. Jacksonville was once host to The Tea Men, members of the North American Soccer League from 1980 to 1982, then the United Soccer League from 1982-1984. They were Jacksonville's first major-league level team.

Brown has long advocated for more sports in Jacksonville, specifically an NBA team, but suggested that a soccer team would be more likely at this point. Jacksonville drew 44,438 fans for a friendly between the U.S. national team and Scotland. Major League Soccer has been enjoying growing success in a number of cities, but Brown said the city might do better to start small. "We may start with a minor-league team then move up," he said. MLS is focused on larger markets, including a second team in the New York market.

The Tea Men had limited success in Jacksonville, with their best result coming in 1983 when they were champions of the United Soccer League.

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.