LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. -- A project seven years in the making will take shape over the next nine months, and Lakewood Ranch will be home base.
Major League Football is a spring football league that will alternate seasons with the NFL, but unlike the failed leagues before them they have no aspirations to dethrone the longtime king of televised sports.
"We were not going to go head-to-head-with the NFL," said MLFB Senior Vice President Frank Murtha.
"We want to give players an opportunity to come to us and we will develop them into men," said Ivory Sully, a nine-year NFL veteran who now manages branding for MLFB.
The league will be a path for young players with no immediate NFL interest, a second chance to be a professional athlete.
Executives have spent the last year looking for emerging markets with no professional football or baseball teams.
"Football will bring it's own economy to those cities, and there are a lot of cities in the United States that are just not going to get an NFL team," says MLFB Finance Vice President Michael Queen.
Based on Major League Soccer's model, the league has no franchises. Instead, they are a publicly traded single-entity, so anyone can be an owner.
"To give the public an opportunity to own a professional sports franchise, that's a pretty big deal," said Queen.
Stocks and digital sales are potential steady sources of capital, which will be necessary to sustain MLFB through the turbulent first years that claimed the lives of the XFL and USFL before them.
Queen puts it simply, "if you're going to do this right, you need to raise a lot of money."
Lakewood Ranch's Premier Sports Complex will play host to a month-long training camp for ten future teams. Suncoast residents will have the unique opportunity to watch young talent, maybe well-known college players, in one location.
And between players and staff, over 1000 bodies will charge the economy east of I-75 for a change.
"People can come down, and get a piece of every team that's going to be dispersed throughout the country," said Sully. "That's a unique opportunity."