Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer "leaves little doubt that Central Florida is going to be awarded a Major League Soccer franchise and says it might even happen in the next few weeks," according to Mike Bianchi of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. Dyer on Thursday said, "It's going to happen. ... We're still in discussions with the county, and that -- some county funding -- is the last piece that needs to fall into place. I would anticipate, if we can get that done in the next couple of weeks, you could see a franchise awarded during the summertime." Dyer if this happens "deserves much of the credit for fast-tracking the construction of a soccer-specific stadium that the MLS is requiring for Orlando to be awarded a franchise." It appeared an Orlando-based MLS franchise was in "jeopardy just a few weeks ago when the soccer effort did not get the state sales tax rebate it was counting to help fund" the new $100M soccer-specific stadium. But USL club Orlando City Owner & President Phil Rawlins was "not deterred" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/21).
COMING ATTRACTIONS: Orlando City coach Adrian Heath said that La Liga club Real Madrid MF Kaká “could join” the team “in the near future.” Heath on Tuesday said, “I believe it is very possible to get him here. You don’t have to be Einstein to work out that his contract ends right around the same time we expect to be in the MLS." In Orlando, Andrew Ward noted Kaká, who “has ties to Orlando City,” attended the club’s practice last Friday. Orlando City investor Flavio Augusto da Silva’s advisor Alexandre Leitão, “is the president of sports marketing group Octagon Brazil, which represents Kaká.” Heath said that Orlando City has “previously discussed bringing Kaká and other top-tier international players to Orlando if the team joins the MLS” (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 6/19).
IndyCar’s "struggling Indy Lights Series is about to get a new direction" from Andersen Promotions CEO Dan Andersen, according to Curt Cavin of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. Andersen owns the first two steps in IndyCar's ladder system after he bought the Pro Mazda Series last year. USF2000 Championship is the first step and Indy Lights is the last. To what "extent IndyCar’s parent company has given Andersen control of Indy Lights isn’t clear ... but he will eventually own it, and his involvement can’t come soon enough." Indy Lights had "only eight car-and-driver combinations at last week’s" at the Milwaukee Mile speedway, and "no more than nine entries will be" at Iowa Speedway for Saturday's Sukup 100. Andersen "believes IndyCar’s ladder system needs to teach oval-track racing, but it doesn’t have to be in mass quantities both from an expense perspective and for the peace of mind of the parents of young racers in the series." He wants "one oval race in USF2000, two in Pro Mazda and three in Indy Lights." Formal confirmation of Andersen’s acquisition is "expected at IndyCar’s Toronto weekend (July 12-14) since all of the series will be participating there." It is "believed IndyCar will continue to subsidize Indy Lights as the transition period continues" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 6/21).
RETURN TRIP: SPEEDTV.com's Robin Miller reported there is a "decent chance" the Milwaukee Mile and Road America at Elkhart Lake, Wisc., "could be on" the '14 IndyCar schedule. Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles in an e-mail wrote that IndyCar "wants to wait and see what happens with Milwaukee before making any decisions on Elkhart Lake." Miller: "Of course that’s contingent on Michael Andretti continuing to promote Milwaukee." Andretti Sports Marketing Managing Dir Kevin Healy "didn't go into specifics but scoring a major title sponsor would be the best way to insure Milwaukee's future" (SPEEDTV.com, 6/19).
ATP board members meeting this weekend in London are scheduled to address several weighty issues, not the least of which is choosing a new CEO. That race is down to Chief Media Officer, Chief Legal Officer & ATP Americas CEO Mark Young and Commercial Dir & ATP Europe CEO Laurent Delanney to replace Brad Drewett, who died earlier this year. Delanney is seen as having the edge because of the Tour’s tilt toward Europe. Young is American and based in Florida; Delanney is European. He also is seen as closer to players than Young. But several others issues also are set to be front and center. The players, after winning dramatic prize-money increases from the Grand Slams, are seeking increases from the top ATP events, known as 1000s. However, unlike the Slam prize-money issue (where the ATP presented a unified force), the board here is likely to be split, with three board members representing players and three representing tournaments. Also on the agenda is the subject of player commitments to the 500s, the tournaments the next level down. The only 500-level event in the U.S. is in DC. The five-year agreement between players and tournaments that saw the sport’s top competitors agree to play four 500s annually expires at the end of this year. Gerard Tsobanian, the tournament director in Madrid, wrote in an e-mail he did not think the prize-money issue would get settled right away and, instead, would have to wait until a later meeting, after the new CEO has been chosen. That new CEO could then theoretically act as a tie-breaking vote between the three player reps and three tournament reps.