Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

A Football League in Manatee?

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

A Football League in Manatee?

Article excerpt

HEADQUARTERS INCENTIVES: Major League Football Inc. would get $147,000

LAKEWOOD RANCH

In the world of professional football, $147,000 couldn't even buy the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a backup offensive lineman, the kind of positional player most coaches pray will never see the field. But not all leagues are created equally.

That $147,000 may be enough to entice a start-up professional football league to open its headquarters and training center in Lakewood Ranch. The company says Manatee County is now in consideration for its new home.

No, it's not the beloved National Football League, with around $5 billion in annual payroll, a lucrative $27 billion TV deal and millions of fans around the world.

But Major League Football Inc. is not selling itself short, either.

The company says it is forming a professional spring-football league scheduled to kick off in 2016 that is publicly owned, allowing fans to buy and sell ownership shares of their favorite team.

The league has not announced what cities will host teams, and league executives did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

"The fact that Major League Football is considering Manatee County just further illustrates sports performance is a great sector to be going after," said Sharon Hillstrom, executive director of the Manatee Economic Development Corp. "It's very viable for the county. ... We're getting on the radar of these types of companies."

The company's promotional material says Major League Football hopes to fill a gap in America's most popular sport during NFL's spring and summer offseason.

Similar systems are popular in the worlds of baseball and soccer. …

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