By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Owners of the Toronto Lynx searched throughout southernOntarioto find a suitable place to locate a new pro soccer franchise.
Hamilton, said Alain Theroux, president of the club, became their first, and only choice to kick off their soccer future.
“The best place we found to put a pro soccer franchise is in Hamilton,” said Theroux in an interview. “It’s made for soccer.”
Theroux, in a letter to Hamilton councillors dated July 10, requested the city consider a lease agreement with the Toronto Lynx to play out of the new Pan Am Stadium, soon to be called Tim Hortons Field.
“We are willing to sign a long-term lease, with exclusive soccer rights,” said Theroux.
He said Hamiltonis a hot bed for soccer, with 2,300 youths registered for soccer, and another 2,000 non-registered kids playing the game. And Hamilton is a quick 45 minutes away from Toronto.
“This is a huge market,” he said.
Included in the offer to the city was a letter of confirmation from Humaniterra Holdings Ltd., a Hong Kong company revealing it has authorized $2 million in finances for the new club.
Theroux is quick to point out that with the city hosting all the soccer events for the 2015 Pan Am Games, the interest in the sport will be at its peak. And the new stadium is being built for soccer.
“There are exciting soccer things happening,” he said. “Hamilton is ready for this.”
The idea is for the new club to begin using the stadium next June, he said.
Theroux, said he has yet to talk to Hamilton officials about leasing the stadium.
The Toronto Lynx club has played in of the United Soccer League since 1996.It has operated out ofTorontountil 2008. The club also field teams in the Professional Development League and the Women’s league.
“The USL is the most successful league inNorth America,” said Theroux.
The Lynx are currently fifth out of seven teams in theGreat Lakesdivision of the league. Among the other clubs in the division are London, Ont. Chicago, and Pontiac, Michigan.
Hamiltondid have a Premier Development League team called the Hamilton FC Rage that played for two seasons, but it moved to southwestern Ontario becoming the Kitchener-Waterloo United FC.
Theroux said the club also operates what he terms a successful senior academy, and has an arrangement with Manchester United of the Barcley’s Premier League to hold soccer sessions. But the most significant association the club is poised to establish is becoming affiliated with Toronto FC and Major League Soccer.
The idea is for the Lynx team to feature major-league players, ready for the Toronto FC, and allowing them to be developed while also getting them in front of eager Hamilton soccer fans.
“We will have a great marketing plan that should create a lot of activity at the stadium,” he said.
The Lynx offer to the city also comes with a slew of supporters, including Peter Montopoli, general secretary for the Canadian Soccer Association, USL president Tim Holt, Earl Cochrane, director team and play operations for Toronto FC, and John Gibson, the Hamilton and District Soccer Association.
“Participation in the USL league will provide an incredible and exciting opportunity to the young men who excel at our wonderful sport of soccer,” stated Gibson.
He added that a pro soccer franchise will “without a doubt bring admiration and respect to the City of Hamilton provincially, nationally, and internationally.”
At the Aug.16 council meeting, politicians referred Theroux’s letter to the director of public works for review.
Theroux said while he doesn’t have a deadline, he would like to see a decision from the city made within at least a month.
“We have everything in place,” said Theroux. “I only hope they give it to us.”