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FC DALLAS

FC Dallas | 9200 World Cup Way Frisco, Texas 75035. (469) 365-0112.

Phone: (214) 705-6700 ; Email: customerservice@FCDallas.com 

www.fcdallas.com

FC Dallas and the Legacy of Lamar Hunt: Pioneering the Soccer Revolution

FC Dallas and the Legacy of Lamar Hunt: Pioneering the Soccer Revolution

In the vibrant sports landscape of Dallas, there is one team that stands out for its pioneering spirit and rich legacy – FC Dallas, led by the visionary patriarch, Lamar Hunt. The story of FC Dallas is deeply intertwined with the city’s soccer history, a journey that began in 1966 when Hunt attended a World Cup match in England and was struck with the inspiration to bring professional soccer to the United States.

Lamar Hunt, born on August 2, 1932, in El Dorado, Arkansas, is widely recognized as one of the greatest sports visionaries in American history, notably as a pioneer of professional soccer in the United States. His contributions to the sports world extend beyond soccer; he made pro football history in 1960 by founding and organizing the American Football League, leaving an indelible mark on the development of football as the founder of the Kansas City Chiefs. However, his impact on professional soccer in the United States cannot be understated.

In 1967, Uncle Lamar formed the Dallas Tornado, one of the earliest professional soccer clubs in the United States, and the NASL (North American Soccer League). The team boasted a roster of professional players from Europe, many of whom, like Bobby Moffat and Kenny Cooper Sr., went on to become successful coaches, spreading the sport’s interest and nurturing talent in North Texas through conducting clinics.

The legacy of professional soccer in Dallas continued to flourish in the 1980s with the advent of the indoor Dallas Sidekicks. Notably, former Tornado players Billy Phillips and Neil Cohen played pivotal roles in the Sidekicks’ success, further cementing Lamar Hunt’s influence on the growth of soccer in the region.

The turning point for soccer in the United States arrived when the country was awarded the prestigious 1994 World Cup. Lamar Hunt, instrumental in the bid to bring the tournament to the U.S., also played a significant role in the creation of Major League Soccer (MLS), leaving an indelible mark on American sports.

In 1996, the Hunt family took center stage in U.S. soccer by becoming charter investors in MLS, which introduced a unique single-entity operating structure where investors owned interests in the league alongside individual teams. The Hunts were the original investor-operators of charter teams in Columbus (Ohio) and Kansas City, setting the foundation for the league’s success.

However, Lamar Hunt’s most substantial contribution to soccer in the United States came in 1998-99 when he funded the construction of the first soccer-specific stadium in the country for the Columbus Crew. Breaking ground on August 14, 1998, the revolutionary facility was completed in a remarkable nine months and one day, opening its doors on May 15, 1999. A sold-out crowd of 24,741 witnessed the Crew’s triumphant 2-0 victory over the New England Revolution.

The year 1999 proved to be a historic one for Hunt, as he received the National Soccer Hall of Fame Medal of Honor for his exceptional contributions to soccer at the national level. Furthermore, the U.S. Open Cup Tournament, dating back to 1914 and recognized as U.S. Soccer’s National Championship, was renamed the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in his honor. This prestigious competition remains the oldest annual team tournament in U.S. sports history.

Taking over the operations of Dallas in 2003, Hunt’s youngest son, Dan, joined Hunt Sports LLC to make history in Texas soccer. They broke ground on the revolutionary Toyota Stadium on February 18, 2004, making it the first soccer stadium in the United States built through a coordination of both private and public funds. Partnering with the City of Frisco, Collin County, and the Frisco Independent School District, Hunt Sports LLC developed a state-of-the-art facility featuring 17 championship-quality soccer fields adjacent to the stadium, spanning 117 acres in Frisco.

In 2005, the team was rebranded as FC Dallas, coinciding with the grand opening of Toyota Stadium on August 6, 2005, with a thrilling 2-2 draw against the New York Red Bulls. With Lamar Hunt’s visionary leadership, Toyota Stadium has become the standard for soccer-specific stadiums in the United States, inspiring the construction of 14 such stadiums among the current 20 MLS franchises. Millions of spectators and participants have experienced the magic of this exceptional facility in Frisco.

Lamar Hunt’s dedication to soccer was recognized as early as 1982 when he was inducted into the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, N.Y. Throughout his illustrious career, he was also honored with inductions into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and the sports halls of fame in both Missouri and Texas. In 2004, he received the Commissioner’s Award at the MLS Cup, acknowledging him as one of the league’s founding fathers and a true champion of soccer in the United States for nearly four decades. The U.S. Soccer Foundation also presented Lamar Hunt with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, celebrating his unwavering commitment to soccer’s growth and development in the United States.

The continued success and growth of youth soccer in Dallas and the surrounding areas owe much to Uncle Lamar’s unwavering support throughout his four-decade-long involvement in soccer at all levels. Today, his vision lives on through his sons, Clark and Dan, as well as the passionate fans of FC Dallas.

Since his passing in 2006, players of FC Dallas have proudly worn a patch bearing the initials LH, paying tribute to the enduring legacy of Lamar Hunt.

We express our heartfelt gratitude to Uncle Lamar for his immeasurable contributions to the sport we love. Thank you, Lamar Hunt.