Soc­cer team owner eyes area real es­tate op­por­tu­ni­ties

Team owner talks about new team, real es­tate op­por­tu­ni­ties

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - FRONT PAGE - BY MIKE PARE STAFF WRITER

Bob Martino says that no mat­ter where he goes on va­ca­tion, he tends to spend time check­ing out the real es­tate op­por­tu­ni­ties in that area.

“It’s kind of nat­u­ral to me to be do­ing that,” the real es­tate de­vel­oper said. “Chat­tanooga is a great city and I hope to be in­volved in other pos­si­bil­i­ties in town.”

Martino’s main rea­son for be­ing in Chat­tanooga is as the owner of the new Chat­tanooga pro­fes­sional soc­cer team that’s aligned with United Soc­cer League Di­vi­sion III. But he has al­ready talked with var­i­ous bro­kers in the city about real es­tate.

As the owner of the team, he said he plans to put out a win­ning club and a fun fan at­mos­phere.

“We’re go­ing to de­liver an amaz­ing pro­fes­sional team to Chat­tanooga — an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence,” said the Park City, Utah, busi­ness­man.

He said he ex­pects to in­vest “a few mil­lion” dol­lars into the soc­cer ven­ture.

How­ever, Martino said, he wants to be in­volved in the real es­tate side of Chat­tanooga as well.

In Cal­i­for­nia, he said, sports such as soc­cer and hockey are

“It’s a won­der­ful life­style you’ve cre­ated,” Martino said. “You kind of live around the ball­park. It’s a very in­ter­est­ing chem­istry that ex­ists in those two worlds.”

The 54-year-old Cal­i­for­nia na­tive who grew up in Ohio said he has ap­proached own­ing the soc­cer team as he does real es­tate in that he un­der­stands it takes time to turn a profit.

“That’s the en­vi­ron­ment I’m used to in the real es­tate world,” he said. “I’m a long-term … in­vestor.”

In Park City, Martino said, his cur­rent fo­cus is a 1,500-acre project with 2,000 res­i­den­tial units.

“That’s a pretty big de­vel­op­ment,” he said. “It’s mixed use and we’ve got a lot of dif­fer­ent prod­uct in that.”

Also, Martino said, he has owned apart­ments, med­i­cal build­ings, ware­houses and other rental prop­er­ties in Utah, Cal­i­for­nia, Florida and Ohio. He es­ti­mates he has moved 20 times over his nearly 29-year mar­riage.

While he has a fi­nan­cial-type back­ground and worked as a plant con­troller, he moved to­ward en­trepreneur­ship about 20 years ago, he said. Even­tu­ally, he mi­grated to real es­tate. Re­sort de­vel­op­ment pulled him to Park City, he said.

At the same time, with three chil­dren ages 24, 22 and 9, the de­vel­oper said he had a lot of fun over the years coach­ing sports and be­com­ing an avid soc­cer fan.

Martino called it “eye-open­ing” to see how soc­cer is grow­ing in the United States.

“I’d been look­ing to get in­volved in pro soc­cer teams, hockey and soc­cer,” he said. “This was an op­por­tu­nity to get in­volved in a pro­fes­sional soc­cer fran­chise. Every­thing came to­gether.”

The busi­ness­man said he’d been to Chat­tanooga be­fore, and he cited its steady pop­u­la­tion growth over the decade, new com­pa­nies open­ing op­er­a­tions here and ad­vances in such ar­eas as the city’s river­front.

He looked at buy­ing soc­cer and hockey teams in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, not­ing it’s “a huge mar­ket.”

But, Martino said, Chat­tanooga is “more my kind of at­mos­phere.”

“Chat­tanooga feels like a friendly city. It has the right at­mos­phere, fam­ily-type ac­tiv­i­ties, bik­ing, hik­ing,” he said.

Martino ex­pects the soc­cer team to at­tract outof-town­ers to Chat­tanooga. They’ll stay and dine down­town for the 14 to 20 home dates, he said.

Sean McDaniel, the team’s vice pres­i­dent and gen­eral man­ager, said the sea­son likely will stretch from pre­sea­son in mid-Fe­bru­ary to early Oc­to­ber.

He said the team is pro­vid­ing open avail­able dates to the league, which

Martino has owned apart­ments, med­i­cal build­ings, ware­houses and other rental prop­er­ties in Utah, Cal­i­for­nia, Florida and Ohio. He es­ti­mates he has moved 20 times over his nearly 29-year mar­riage.

is ex­pected to is­sue a sched­ule na­tion­ally by the mid­dle of next month.

“You’re plan­ning nine months in ad­vance,” he said.

Martino said the team is ex­pected to lease of­fice space down­town on Broad Street and cre­ate 40 jobs. There will be a mer­chan­dise store, tick­et­ing and an area with lounge chairs and a video screen where peo­ple can hang out, he said.

“Chat­tanooga is the per­fect spot to have a team for a long, long time,” Martino said. “This is a pas­sion and ven­ture for me.”

Con­tact Mike Pare at mpare@times­freep­ress. com or 423-757-6318. Fol­low him on Twit­ter @ MikePareTFP.


Bob Martino, owner of Chat­tanooga Pro Soc­cer, talks about bring­ing the team to the city and po­ten­tial op­por­tu­ni­ties in real es­tate here. Sean McDaniel is the team’s vice pres­i­dent and gen­eral man­ager.

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