Tag Archives: Chris Economides


Lakeland, FL – The Premier Development League (PDL) is expanding to Lakeland, Florida! Central Florida Sports Ventures, which owns and operates Florida Tropics SC, has received the expansion rights for a PDL team. The team will be known as The Lakeland Tropics.

“We are very excited to receive expansion rights for a PDL team here in Polk County,” said Tropics COO Chris Economides. “This gives us another avenue to engage and provide affordable entertainment to the community. We hope to rally the community behind the Tropics and provide a high level of professionalism both on and off the field.”

“We have the people in place to do so, and we can’t wait to see what this organization can become and do for this community. Soccer is thriving and its time Polk County gets a team that can compete on a national scale and attract some of the best athletes and future professionals.”
The PDL is the highest level of men’s amateur soccer competition in North America. The PDL is sponsored by United Soccer League (USL), the professional league that serves as a direct feeder to Major League Soccer (MLS).

The PDL is a proven path to professional soccer in North America. The league served as an important stepping-stone for many top athletes now playing throughout the world. More than 350 PDL alumni have taken part in the 2016 USL regular season, while more than 200 PDL alums, including Keegan Rosenberry and Brandon Vincent, have competed in the 2016 MLS regular season.

While PDL players are not paid, the league is still recognized as a competitive level of outdoor soccer and an opportunity to see the future stars of professional soccer in North America. The majority of the player pool is drawn from elite NCAA and NAIA college soccer players. PDL players can also include standout high school and junior club players, as well as former professionals.

Many MLS and USL teams have a U23 squad playing in the PDL. This again proves that the PDL is a direct path to professional soccer, and an important opportunity for teams to develop their young stars before taking the next step to the professional level.

So, what does this mean for the Polk County community?

To start, high-level soccer can now be viewed year-round in Lakeland. It also means that Lakeland now has a team that can compete on a national scale for outdoor soccer, as the PDL has an opportunity for teams to enter the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

“Having a PDL team is huge for our own player development,” Tropics and CFSV CEO Haines said. “It allows us to keep players here year-round and stay involved in the community, inspiring future athletes to one day play professionally for their hometown team. Our goal is to always be competitive right from the start, and we will do everything in our power to bring home a trophy to this community.”

The Lakeland Tropics will compete in the Southern Conference, which includes various other teams throughout the state of Florida. This will help to create interstate rivalries amongst Polk County’s newest team.

The Lakeland Tropics season will begin in May, and season ticket will be on sale in the upcoming weeks. For more information or to join the waitlist for tickets, call 863-333-5353.



Lakeland, FL – Tropics CEO and Owner Andrew Haines announced today that former Rochester Rhinos and USL Executive Chris Economides will be joining the team’s front office and ownership group as Co-Owner and Chief Operating Officer. Economides brings a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge to the Tropics front office. He is very well connected to the soccer industry and serves as an important asset for the Tropics organization.

“I am thrilled to have Chris join our organization. Chris was a major influence in my introduction to the professional soccer landscape. He brings so much to the table in terms of his connections and experience running successful franchises. He has witnessed firsthand how soccer has grown in the United States, and been a part of its development by managing clubs like the Rochester Rhinos and Carolina Railhawks, as well as working in the front office of USL. We are here to grow the Tropics organization into a premier and professional soccer club recognized across the globe. Adding Chris to our team and front office will only help in accomplishing this goal. I am excited to see what the future holds for our organization and the impact we can have on our community,” said CEO Andrew Haines.

Chris Economides has a storied history within the USL (United Soccer League, America’s “AAA” league of the professional soccer landscape). Before his most recent position as Senior Strategic Advisor, he was the Senior Director of USL PRO and the USL First Division. Economides also served as the Senior Director of the Major Indoor Soccer League, all of which were a part of the United Soccer Leagues (overseeing company of all USL assets). Prior to joining USL in October 2008, Economides served as the Chief Operating Officer for the Rochester Rhinos before going on to found the Carolina Railhawks, a former USL First Division team.

Prior to founding the Carolina Railhawks, Chris Economides was instrumental in forming the Rochester Raging Rhinos, a team in the same USL-1 division, which has gained national attention on the soccer scene. In his role as Chief Operating Officer and Vice President/General Manager, Economides was responsible for the management of the club. From off-season scouting and signing of players to representing the team in league matters, he kept busy year-round helping to assemble one of professional soccer’s premier organizations.
Economides helped form the Rhinos in the fall of 1995. They founded the team in the then independent A-League and quickly turned the franchise into a juggernaut in the minor league sports industry. The club was a league-leader in attendance from 1996–2004 and was named one of the “Top Five Minor League Sports Franchises” by Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal. Their success at the gate was matched by the team’s three league titles (1998, 2000 and 2001) and the 1999 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title, where they defeated three MLS teams en route to the historic championship. The Rhinos ownership trio was inducted into the USL Hall of Fame in 2005 as builders. Economides was also inducted in the Hall of Fame for the Rochester Rhinos, who still currently play in the USL.

In addition to his soccer duties, Chris also stayed busy during the summer by assuming the same role for the Rochester Rattlers of Major League Lacrosse. Prior to his role with the Rhinos, Economides co-owned the Kansas City Attack of the NPSL from 1991-1993. The Attack captured the NPSL championship in 1992-93, finishing a successful season after defeating the Cleveland Crunch 3-2 in the finals in front of 12,000 fans at Kansas City’s Kemper Arena.

“I am excited to be back working on the club side of the game. I look forward to working with Andrew and Leah, and establishing this organization as a premier club. We look forward to having a lot of very exciting announcements in the near future from the Tropics ownership group. I believe I can bring experience and new connections to the organization, and allow us to a have a freer rain in growing our brand and marketing the Tropics. I think this is a great community and market to grow the sport in. I look forward to a long and fruitful partnership with the Haines,” Said Economides.

The Tropics will be making some major announcements in the upcoming weeks. Be sure to stay tuned to all media feeds in order to stay up to date with these exciting announcements.
About Florida Tropics SC: Florida Tropics SC is a professional indoor soccer team that will begin play in November of 2016 at the Lakeland Center. The team will play at the highest level of professional indoor soccer in North America. To stay up to date on team information, player signings and special offers, “Like” the teams Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/FLTropics). For more information or to purchase tickets, call 863-333-5353 or visit http://www.FLTropics.com.