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Hammerheads return to Wilmington

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WILMINGTON, NC (NEWS RELEASE) – The Wilmington Hammerheads, one of the most successful minor league soccer franchises in U.S. history, will return in 2011 as part of USL PRO. Led by majority owner Bill Rudisill and Head Coach/Director of Soccer David Irving, the Hammerheads will return to Legion Stadium and become a cornerstone franchise for USL PRO, which also includes powerhouse franchises such as the Rochester Rhinos and Orlando City SC (formerly Austin Aztex).

Designed to help ensure the long-term stability of professional soccer in North America, USL PRO will feature 18-20 teams in 2011 and will have a national broadcast package, with USL expected to continue its nine-year partnership with Fox Soccer Channel for the coverage of its top professional league.

“It is a thrill to be a part of bringing the Wilmington Hammerheads back to Legion Stadium and to the Wilmington fans,” said Rudisill, who will be joined by partners Dr. Clyde Harris, Cindy Harris, Dr. Mario Basegoda and Dr. Sara Borcherding. “The Hammerheads are very much a part of our local culture and it is our hope that you will support us again as you did before.”

Founded in 1996, the Hammerheads enjoyed a great deal of on-field success, reaching the playoffs in 10 of 14 seasons and capturing the 2003 USL Second Division title. They also pulled off some memorable upsets in the U.S. Open Cup, knocking off MLS sides Dallas Burn in 2003 and Chicago Fire in 2009.

Fan support has never been an issue for the Hammerheads, who enjoyed the committed backing of their fan club, the Port City Firm, and routinely drew 2,500-plus at Legion Field during the regular season and upwards of 5,000 during the playoffs. Among the players who have starred for the Hammerheads is Jamie Watson, who was named USL-2 MVP in Wilmington in 2009 and starred this past season with the Austin Aztex.

“We’re elated to have a storied franchise such as the Hammerheads back in the league, and that the loyal fans in Wilmington will enjoy the return of professional soccer,” Senior Director of USL PRO Chris Economides said. “We are thankful to Bill Rudisill and the other investors for helping make this day a reality.”

“It’s great that the Hammerheads are returning to Wilmington,” City of Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said. “They’ve been missed by many people since they’ve been gone, and this will bring a lot of renewed excitement and opportunity for our community. We appreciate the efforts of the new owner ship group that is bringing the Hammerheads back, and I know the fans and citizens of Wilmington are looking forward to a lot of exciting soccer.”

Hammerheads ticket packages are already on sale for the 2011 USL PRO season, with general admission prices set at $10 for adults, $6 for children 12-under. Welcome Back and Holiday Season Special season ticket packages start as low as $100 for adults and $60 for children 12-under. Sponsorship packages are also available. For more information visit www.wilmingtonhammerheads.com or call the Hammerheads offices at 910.777.2111.

Focused on franchise stability and longevity, USL PRO will feature an unprecedented six teams with more than 10 years of operational experience, and more than 100 years of combined operational experience. The league will be led by a Board of Governors responsible for making all major decisions for the league including expansion, competition format and commercial strategy. Additional franchises participating in USL PRO for the 2011 season will be announced in the upcoming weeks.

United Soccer Leagues
Founded in 1986, United Soccer Leagues has become the largest organization of elite-level soccer leagues in North America by building on the vision, commitment, and passion of players, fans and investors. Now in its third decade of operation, USL continues to be a driving force in the growth of soccer in the United States, Canada and Caribbean. USL provides a clearly defined path for the progression of male and female soccer players beginning at the youth level (USL Super Y-League/USL Super-20 League), continuing through the amateur level (USL Premier Development League/USL W-League) and up to the professional level, both outdoor and indoor (USL PRO, I-League). A platform for countless players to reach for their dreams each year, USL is devoted to developing the sport at the grassroots level in every community across the region.

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STAY AWAY !!!!!

The Hammer heads return, big whoop, if the city of Wilmington could keep NHHS and the Hammer heads separate and show the respect that NHHS athletics deserves then i see no reason why they cant come back. I like many other students, parents, alumni, teachers, coaches, and residents of Wilmington see legion stadium as the home of the wildcats! not the home of the wildcats when the hammer heads say its ok. This field belongs to the student athletes who work all day in the class room just so they can have their shot on the field in front of a home town crowd. The city of Wilmington needs to let NHHS have the main use of that field and schedule the Hammer heads around Wildcat athletics. I propose a challenge to the Hammer heads, spend there first month of regular season playing on legions back field and see how i spent my entire 4 years of high school and varsity lacrosse. So if the city of Wilmington can show the Wildcats the respect they deserve they by all means bring the Hammer heads back, but if the hammer heads rule the field like last time then keep them away.

ummm...Hello.. The

ummm...Hello.. The Hammerheads are a professional franchise, and NHHS is only full of high school athletes for crying out loud. Heck, most of them aren't even athletes. The Hammerheads shouldn't even have to share that field with anyone, so I suggest the little high school kids go look for somewhere else to play.

Why aren’t we a big

Why aren’t we a big JERK!!! New Hanover High School's home field is Legion Stadium!!! It has been their home field a lot longer that it has been designated for use by the Hammerheads. IT does clearly state in the By-laws of Legion Stadium that the number ONE use of this field is for New Hanover High School sports. But I guess you would need to read in order to understand that. By the way it takes a real winner to put down and attack children. Way to go!!!! These children work hard on and off the field and they should have the right to use a field that has been designated at their schools home field. I am sure that these children could physically give you a run for your money. As far as a professional franchise its not like we are talking about the Carolina Hurricanes here. For crying out loud, it is soccer.

I understand everyone's

I understand everyone's concern about sharing the field, but I played Varsity soccer at NHHS for 4 years and my practices or games never conflicted with the Hammerheads schedule. The Hammerheads season lasts from the end of April through September, so the only time that games could conflict are during the months of April and May for girls soccer, and late August and September for boys. However, and like I said, none of my games or any others that I know of for that matter were changed or re scheduled due to the Hammerheads. I am a proud Wildcat and playing at Legion Stadium was an extreme privilege. Most high school stadiums do not come close to that of what New Hanover is treated to. The fact that it is shared with a Professional Team that has been in Wilmington since 1996 seems like no problem to me. It would be one thing if games conflicted, but luckily they do not.

grow up!

not professional? they are in the second division of american football. they are a brilliant team. and im sure he can read. but im sure that the hammerheads bring in more money for the stadium a game than any of the new hanover games do. and they are paying for it. so im sure that new hanover is lining their pockets with this deal as well. so suck it up, grow up, and learn to share. its only a field!

Believe me I am grown up!

Believe me I am grown up! However, these kids are not being asked to share the field (which I am sure we don't mind doing). HOWEVER, I know for a fact that these kids are being bumped from the field! Give 2nd or no priorty use of the field. All NHHS is asking for is that the By-laws be enforced as they were written. Hammerheads can also play at Hoggard, Ashley and Laney.