The Fort Lauderdale Strikers hosted a successful Town Hall Meeting, Thursday night at Fritz & Franz Bierhaus in Fort Lauderdale. Fans gathered with current and former Strikers players and staff, NASL leadership and two South Florida mayors for a night celebrating the past, present and future of South Florida’s pro soccer team.
Mayors Jim Seiler of Fort Lauderdale, and Mike Ryan of Sunrise, started things off with a discussion about importance of the Strikers in their communities and answered a variety of questions about possible stadium development. Both cities have been rumored as possible locations for the new Strikers-specific stadium. The Mayors are showing their support by promoting the Beach to Glades Challenge to see which city can sell the most tickets to the upcoming Strikers vs. Cosmos match, with the winner taking home the Mayors Cup.
NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson and Traffic Sports USA President and Chairman of the NASL Board of Governors Aaron Davidson (below) followed, discussing the early success and growth of the league and the commitment to the Strikers.
“It’s humbling to be here tonight and see this many people come out,” said Davidson. “It’s great to see the faces that have been with us since the early days, and to see the guys from the original Strikers. We are so fortunate to have that legacy with us, and not just the legacy, people who are active in the community in support of what we’re doing.”
The Strikers’ charismatic President Tom Mulroy shared stores of his playing days and discussed the importance of the club’s community outreach and grassroots approach to promoting the brand.
Head Coach Günter Kronsteiner took the stage to a rapturous applause and chants of his name from the supporters in attendance. The captivating coach further endeared himself to the fans by giving his take on the sending off in Edmonton and the state of his team, which currently sit just one point out of first with a chance to go top of the standings this weekend.
“We are doing very well and I hope we can make you proud this weekend,” said Kronsteiner when asked about the preparation for the Cosmos game. “I’m not preparing the team in a different way; we are as good as the Cosmos, there’s no question for me.”
Current players Stefan Antonijevic, David Foley, Darnell King and Richard Sanchez were also on hand to answer questions from the fans. The four players shared stories about what it means for them to play for the Strikers, their efforts in the community and the importance of being good role models to young players.
Saving the best for last, the Strikers legends took the stage to discuss the great tradition of the Strikers and share their fondest memories of the team. Ron Newman, the original head coach of the Strikers in 1977, led the group of greats that included U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame goalkeeper Arnie Mausser, Branko Segota, Nico Bodonczy and a name endeared to all South Florida soccer fans, Ray Hudson.
Hudson was the man of the hour, stealing the show and captivating the entire audience with his passion and enthusiasm for the Strikers.
“I’d be here all night with you people in the memory of our Strikers and about the advent of the Strikers,” said Hudson. “And Tom [Mulroy], Aaron [Davidson] and Traffic, Tim [Robbie] and the lads here and coach Günter [Kronsteiner], they’re doing a wonderful job.”
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