Taking a year off – 2016 Sabbatical for the Laredo Heat
Laredo Heat Announce Hiatus from PDL in 2016- Gateway City Club Plans Competitive Return for 2017
In what can only be called one of the toughest decisions in the Laredo Heat Soccer Club history, the 11-year-old Club announced on Monday that it will not participate in the Premier Development League’s (PDL) 2016 season.
After 10 consecutive postseason appearances, four PDL championship game runs (2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011) and one PDL Championship in 2007 and an illustrious record in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the Heat plan to return to competitive soccer in 2017.
The Laredo Heat Youth Soccer Club and Academy will continue without interruption with its youth player development and operate throughout this time off in 2016 for its senior team as its commitment to youth soccer will not be derailed because of this decision.
After careful consideration and discussions involving the team and the league, the decision not to play in 2016 was due to the slow growth of the Mid-South Division of the PDL’s Southern Conference over the past four years and the coming season as well. The Heat’s business operation and the challenges facing the Mid-South Division became too staggering to overcome.
“I certainly hope that when the 2017 season begins, the Laredo Heat will have the opportunity to once again participate with the PDL, if the business climate within the division improves; however, if it does not, we will certainly look at other avenues to have high level soccer again in Laredo,” Heat’s owner and president Shashi Vaswani said. “This decision was a very difficult one for myself and my Family, even harder than the one originally made to join the United Soccer Leagues back in 2003 to bring this unique opportunity to the Gateway City.
“This decision has absolutely nothing to do with the support we have received over the past 11 years from our sponsors, partners, media and fans — which has been nothing short of awesome”.
Over the past four years, the Mid-South Division has featured only four to five teams, including the Heat, and consisted of difficult and high-cost travel. The Heat often played two consecutive games away from home or hosting the same opponent in back-to-back games. The lack of variety in opponents and consistent scheduling was no longer a viable business option for the local franchise.
“The travel has taken a toll on the overall operation and budget of the team,” Vaswani said. “While we tried our best to work within the framework of the division to make it happen, I could not see this continue for another season. Not to mention having the same three teams visit Laredo as they have over the past two seasons as I feel that our sponsors and fans also need diversification.”
After the 2016 sabbatical, the Laredo Heat aim to announce their plans for 2017 and beyond and it is their wish that the PDL grows its market in Texas and the surrounding states in order to make it viable not only for Laredo, but all the other teams currently participating in the Mid-South Division. The Club has confirmed that there will be soccer in 2017 in the Gateway City.