Five organizations have put in bids to run Key Biscayne’s Soccer Club, currently a $1.6 million athletic contract that touches 1,000 children and their families, and that dominates precious field space in a community where it seems every youth wants to be the next Messi.
A six-member select committee met Nov. 29 to consider bids from the groups and decided it would entertain presentations from each of the candidates Dec. 11 and 12.
The current vendor, KB Soccer Inc., led by Marcelo Radice, is aiming to renew the contract — but he faces competition from one of his former colleagues – Jackie Kellogg – as well as a group that is tied to the top-tier Italian soccer club Juventus.
Juventus brings with it tried-and-true training methodologies, its uniform and logo and its deep bench of professionals.
“We can’t lose sight of – and I think we all won’t – this is a 1,000-person program,” said Glen Waldman, chair of the Athletics Advisory Board.
“Do you have the expertise to manage a 1,000-kid program successfully?”
Waldman said the soccer program could be even bigger but is constrained by lack of field space – something the Village is trying to address by developing two areas on Virginia Key.
Other committee members are Todd Hofferberth, parks director for Key Biscayne; Quentin Pough, South Miami parks director, David Carreno, an administrative assistant in the Village parks department. Key Biscayne residents Myriam Bril and Victor Balestra round out the panel.
Thbidders for the contract are:
KB Soccer Inc., which has held the contract since 2010.
Key Biscayne Soccer Foundation, a group run by two former board members of KB Soccer, Augusto Granados and Jackie Kellogg.
Rising Stars dba Supreme F.C., which runs the youth league in Miramar.
Soccer Cage LLC, which is associated with the Juventus Soccer Academy and the Italian club
Soccer Stars, a mammoth organization that runs leagues nationwide.
All candidates moved on to the next phase of the selection process. “There’s nobody here who stands out as a pink elephant that you just want to kick out of the room,” Waldman said.
Committee members were impressed with proposals by KB Soccer Inc. and Soccer Stars.
On the concern side, the committee brought up whether Soccer Stars would be able to manage competitive and recreation leagues? It also wanted to know why Granados and Kellogg had split off from KB Soccer Inc.
Waldman recalled the contract with AC Milan about 15 years ago. “We had a very good program. We brought in AC Milan and our program was destroyed within two or three years and then we rebuilt it to where it is today,” he said.
For this cycle, the committee is placing a focus on gender equity.
“Girls participation is a priority for the community. It’s something we’ve been pushing in all of our different sports vendors,” Hofferberth said.
Radice said he is disappointed in the Village’s decision not to opt to have the current soccer contract go the full five years as it has in the past.
“It’s a concern because we didn’t do anything that should have triggered this review,” he said. But the Village Council gave direction years ago to stop automatically renewing vendor contracts and conduct competitive bidding.
The program is likely to cost more for parents, under new terms being sought by the Village. The RFP adds a condition that 10% of the gross revenue will be paid to the Village for the first two years of agreement. The total entry fee for a child on an elite team can already run north of $2,000, Radice said.
“Many families that have multiple children playing,” he said.
Radice said that his organization tries to run the program “as a break-even enterprise.”
Kellogg said she wants to address the current A-team, B-team competitive league structure, saying it “really gets to people” when all you really want is for the players to be able to get the playing experience.
“If you are on the A team when you are age 9 that doesn’t necessarily mean you should be on the A team when you are Youth 13.”
Editor’s note: This story updates a previous version with the exact total amount of the current program and Radice’s comment that it is run as break-even enterprise.