Manatee tourist council pulls Major League Soccer initiative from agenda

Da Vinci Machines exhibit could receive recommendation for marketing dollars

cschelle@bradenton.comAugust 16, 2013 

MANATEE -- An initiative for an expanded presence for Major League Soccer in Manatee County has been pulled from Monday's Tourist Development Council meeting as officials are hammering away at a deal.

Tourism officials are still working on wrapping up a deal to receive a commitment from Major League Soccer for an expanded pre-season program, said Elliott Falcione, executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. The advisory tourism panel doesn't meet again until October, and would have to schedule a special meeting to take up the item before then.

The council is still set to meet at 9 a.m. Monday at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.

Details of the proposal remain secret and the MLS initiative is expected to be more than what Manatee County has previously hosted for MLS. IMG Academy hosted the Columbus Crew and Seattle Sounders FC in 2012 for spring training and preseason games, and Lakewood Ranch's Premier Sports Campus, 5895 Post Blvd., hosted spring training for D.C. United this year. Preseason MLS usually occurs during late February into the first week of March.

Other items still up for discussion include a proposal for marketing money to advertise the DaVinci Machines exhibit at Bradenton Municipal Auditorium. Organizers are looking to bring 75 Leonardo Da Vinci inventions from November through April at the auditorium. The popular exhibit has two versions with one still showing in Denver, and been around the world.

The exhibit still needs a lease approved by the Bradenton City Council for the auditorium.

Also on the agenda: Sarasota resident and former Oasis Hong Kong Airlines executive Stephen Miller will give a presentation about starting up Sunrise Airlines at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. Miller is making his way around the region to pitch the idea and receive support from local boards. Miller and his wife, Hannah, are trying to raise $30 million and gain Federal Aviation Administration approval to launch Sunrise.

Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter@ImYourChuck.

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