February 8, 2006

A guide to Cary's new pro men's soccer team


Sometimes you can't tell the players without a scorecard.

To provide information on Cary's new United Soccer Leagues First Division team, we've assembled this package explaining what's been announced so far, including, ticket prices, SAS Soccer Park, the deal between the team and Town of Cary, the United Soccer Leagues, other teams in the Leagues' First Division, the new team's owners, other sports that could be coming, which soccer teams could be coming to play in Cary this year, how to get in touch with the team and even how to suggest names for the team.

Cary Mayor Ernie McAlister joined with Rochester Raging Rhinos Vice President and General Manager Chris Economides and USL Vice President Tim Holt at a press conference Jan. 26 at the soccer park for the announcement.

Economides and other backers of the Raging Rhinos and Atlanta Silverbacks will form the as-yet-unnamed team that will operate separately from the Rochester and Atlanta teams.

An abbreviated season in 2006 is expected to include six to 10 exhibition matches followed by a full 18-to-20-game home season in 2007.

In addition to exhibitions, which could include games featuring D.C. United and the USL's Columbus Crew, the Raging Rhinos will hold their training camp here.

A Raging Rhinos invitation-only tryout is also set for March 22 through March 25 at the soccer park.

The USL season starts in April.

The owners

Steve Donner, along with Frank DuRoss and Chris Economides, founded the Rochester Raging Rhinos in 1995 and he is involved with several other sports franchises. He is the principal owner of the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League and the Rochester Knighthawks of the National Lacrosse League.

He has also headed up the marketing and sales departments of the Buffalo Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League.

Donner also helped launch the Dayton Gems of the International Hockey League, Buffalo Bandits of the National Lacrosse League and the Rochester Rattlers of Major League Lacrosse.

Along with DuRoss and Economides, Donner was inducted last year into the USL Hall of Fame.

With a background in building and real estate, Frank DuRoss got into the sports business in 1987 when he was named president of the Utica Devils of the American Hockey League. He also owns the Providence Bruins.

He was a co-founder of Major League Lacrosse and owns the Rochester Rattlers, which play in that league.

DuRoss also has interests in commercial real estate.

Chris Economides will run the day-to-day operations of the Cary team and plans to move to the area. He has served as chief operating officer and vice president and general manager of the Raging Rhinos, running the team's soccer business.

Boris Jerkunica, who has also been involved with several software and high-tech businesses is the majority owner and chairman of the Atlanta Silverbacks, another USL First Division men's team, and a minority owner in the Cary team. He was an All-American soccer player at Emory University in Atlanta in the 1980s.

What is the USL?

Cary's new men's soccer team will play in the United Soccer Leagues First Division.

The USL, celebrating its 20th year, is the largest organization of elite-level soccer leagues in North America. According to its Web site, the organization is dedicated to growing the sport at the grassroots level in every community across the United States and Canada.

In addition to the professional First Division, USL has a pro Second Division and runs amateur programs through its premier development league, women's league and "Super-Y League" for developing promising youth players.

The competition

The USL First Division includes 12 teams, with the Cary team coming in as No. 13.

The teams competing this season are:

  • Atlanta Silverbacks
  • Charleston Battery
  • Miami (as yet unnamed)
  • Minnesota Thunder
  • Montreal Impact
  • Portland Timbers
  • Puerto Rico Islanders
  • Rochester Raging Rhinos
  • Seattle Sounders
  • Toronto Lynx
  • Vancouver Whitecaps
  • Virginia Beach Mariners

Who's on tap?

Even though the Cary team does not start play until next year, six to 10 exhibition games are planned this spring and summer at SAS Soccer Park.

Teams that could be coming to Cary include D.C. United of Major League Soccer, Rochester Raging Rhinos and Columbus Crew of the United Soccer Leagues First Division and international teams such as Everton Football Club of the English Premier League, said Chris Economides, co-owner of the Cary team.

Other sports possible

Men's soccer is not the only sport that could end up at SAS Soccer Park as a result of last week's announcement.

Rochester Raging Rhinos management, who are among the backers of the Cary team, also have interests in three professional lacrosse teams. Among the terms of the sublease between Cary and Triangle Professional Soccer, "the team would have exclusivity related to professional soccer and professional lacrosse."

Cary team co-owner Chris Economides said he hopes to bring professional lacrosse exhibition to SAS Soccer Park.

Economides said his group also has an interest in bringing back women's soccer to the stadium. The Carolina Courage played at the venue in 2002 and 2003 as part of the Women's United Soccer Association before the league and the team folded in the fall of 2003.

The deal

Terms of the agreement between Triangle Professional Soccer, which owns Cary's new United Soccer Leagues First Division team and the town include:

  • The team will pay $25,000 in rent for the 2006 season and $70,000 in following years.
  • The team will have its offices at the park.
  • Cary will get 15 percent of concessions and the team will get 20 percent.
  • The town and team will each get half of the concessions sponsorships.
  • Cary will get 30 percent of season sign sponsorships.
  • The town will get 5 percent of season ticket revenue and $1 per individual ticket and will split Ticketmaster rebates with the team.
  • For future naming rights agreements, Cary receives the first $150,000 annually and 30 percent of additional annual revenue in excess of $150,000.
  • The team will keep parking revenues.

Get in touch

Cary's new United Soccer Leagues First Division team has opened its offices at SAS Soccer Park, 201 Soccer Park Drive.

The phone number for the office is 859-5425.

E-mail can be sent to triangleprosoccer@yahoo.com.


Season ticket packages are already available.

The 18-game bundles come at four levels:

  • $99 for children 12 and under in the end zone.
  • $140 for adults in the end zone.
  • $225 for premium seats opposite the press box.
  • $350 for club seats on the press-box side with chair backs and a parking pass for every two tickets.

Prices for single-game seats have also been set.

  • $8 for children 12 and under in the end zone.
  • $10 for adults in the end zone.
  • $15 for premium seats.
  • $20 for club seats.

Except for children's seats, single-game tickets are $2 more on the day of the game.

Owner Chris Economides said the team had already sold 10 club seat season-ticket packages by about 4 p.m. Friday.

To purchase tickets, call 859-5425.

SAS-sy facts

SAS Soccer Park, the home of Cary's new United Soccer Leagues First Division men's team, is located off East Chatham Street just east of Maynard Road.

The $16 million facility opened in 2002 and was originally known as State Capital Soccer Park until SAS Institute paid for naming rights in April 2002.

The 150-acre park is owned by the state of North Carolina and leased to Wake County.

The park — including the 7,000-seat stadium — was funded with $14.5 million in Wake County hotel-room and prepared-food and beverage taxes, plus $1.7 million kicked in by the Carolina Courage of the Women's United Soccer Association.

The facility includes a stadium field and six other fields arranged in pairs around it. The stadium field and two others are built to FIFA regulations that include surfaces as well as playing areas of 120 by 75 yards, and those three are lighted.

The town later added a $350,000 cross-country course on the site.

The Town of Cary took over management of the facility in 2004 from Capital Area Soccer, an umbrella organization for youth soccer in the Triangle.

How we got to this point

April 2002: State Capital Soccer Park is completed.

April 29, 2002: SAS Institute acquires naming rights for the park, which is rechristened SAS Soccer Park.

May 4, 2002: The Carolina Courage of the Women's United Soccer Association begin play at the park.

May 2002: The U.S. Men's National Team holds final practices at park before the World Cup.

October 2002: Park hosts Nike U.S. Women's Cup.

Sept. 15, 2003: Courage and WUSA fold.

November 2003: Park hosts ACC women's soccer championships.

December 2003: Park hosts NCAA Women's College Cup.

Aug. 19, 2004: Cary Town Council agrees to town taking over operation of park.

November 2004: Park hosts ACC women's soccer championships.

December 2004: Park hosts NCAA Women's College Cup.

May 26, 2005: Cary and Rochester Raging Rhinos officials announce exhibition between Raging Rhinos and D.C. United set for July at park.

July 11, 2005: Raging Rhinos and D.C. United play exhibition in front of overflow crowd.

December 2005: Park hosts NCAA Men's College Cup.

January 2006: U.S. Soccer announces U.S. Men's National Team will holds final practices at park in May before competing in World Cup.

January 2006: United Soccer Leagues First Division men's team announced as new tenant for park.