Future is Now for NISL and Member Teams
TAMPA, FL - If you ask most people on the street about soccer, the indoor version does not immediately come to mind. But if you ask anyone in the National Indoor Soccer League (NISL) the same question, you get a passionate response and a litany of information that will make you question why you didn’t hear about the sport sooner. Entering its second year, the NISL 2023 season kicks off in January with two new expansion teams, the Tampa Bay Strikers playing all home games in their new arena home, the Yeungling Center on the campus of USF and the Central Florida Crusaders playing on the campus of UCF at the Addition Arena.
Indoor soccer isn’t all that new but it is new in a majority of towns across America including the Tampa Bay area. We have, of course, our Rowdies, Orlando has the Pride, and there are many, many youth clubs that are nationally ranked. We have plenty of college teams and, naturally, we all watch the World Cup when it makes its way to our TV screens. This game, however, is different. Fast paced, high scoring and played inside what amounts to a hockey rink covered in turf with 6 versus 6 per side, this version of soccer takes on its own style of excitement.
Brought to the area by long-time, minor-league entrepreneur, Andrew Haines, the Tampa Bay Strikers are one of the two Florida teams in the upstart National Indoor Soccer League (NISL). With another close market team in Orlando, Haines knows the importance of building rivalries. Haines stated, “Everywhere we have always gone, it has been a priority to have someone close to play. That is important for various reasons including travel costs and marketing but most important so the fans have an “enemy” team, to root against at home games. It just makes sense that close rivals create intense competition on and off the field.”
The Central Florida Crusaders, based in Orlando and playing in the Addition Arena on the UCF campus, are the second of the league's teams joining Memphis, TN, Fayetteville, NC and Columbus, & Rome, GA. The league also plans to engage in recruitment games played against local college teams. As a league of opportunity, these games not only give fans the chance to see local college talent but serve to act as scouting opportunities to recruit players looking to continue their soccer careers.
The league pushed back its start date to January 2023 in order to accommodate arena dates in the various venues in each city. Haines was quick to point out the value of a strong schedule and how reducing gaps in home and away dates was imperative to the success of local teams. “As we grow, we will continue to look for good quality, city franchise partners where our model of wholesome, family friendly, pro sports fit the market. Finacial viability is a must and so is a community that is hungry to build a successful market partnership.”
With the season approaching in January, all things point towards a successful second season for the NISL. Further information, along with season ticket and sponsorship opportunities, is available on the Strikers website, www.tbstrikers.com