Written on July 20th, 1996 with the benefits of hindsight.
I attended the press conference on Monday June 24, 1996 at Wayne Gretzky's restaurant near the SkyDome in downtown Toronto for a luncheon announcing a new A-League franchise in Toronto for the 1997 season. (I was on vacation for that week and delayed a camping trip by half a day so I could be there).
The new owner is a group of three businessman led by Enzo Iantorno. He was warmly welcomed in speeches by A-League president Richard Groff and the owners of the Montreal Impact and Rochester Raging Rhinos which are the two closest teams geographically. The biggest giant screen tv I've ever seen was playing an A-League game taped from the previous weekend.
Now the biggest questions posed to the organizers and their answers:
Team Name?.........We'll have a name-the-team contest so the fans can choose. (That therefore means there is no team colours or uniforms chosen yet).
Where will they play?.......They're be looking around for a place to play.
Who will coach? Players?.....They're find a coach then look for players especially from the local area. (They could stock half a team from recalling all the Southern Ontario players that are playing with other A-League teams).
Well that didn't tell me much but as Dale Barnes said on his Soccer Canada show, it is important to announce a new team as early as possible to get some publicity generating. He compared it with previous soccer teams in Toronto forming about 90 days before the season started.
Toronto would be the 8th franchise in the A-League. Richard Groff told me he's working on getting a Philadelphia franchise set up. A few weeks later, another press release announces that the A-League has merged with the USISL to form a 2nd tier pro league beneath the MLS League. This new merger will mean the A-League will have 24 teams in 1997 and eventually expand to 32 in about four years. These other teams will come from the USISL Select and Pro Leagues.
I'll leave this space open as they'll be more that I'll add when I get more information.
October 30th...Team name announced as Toronto Lynx per the Toronto Star columnist Norm Da Costa. It wasn't one of the offered names on a name-the-team ballot given out at the Diego Maradona-CNSL All Star game on September 2nd.
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