Florida businessman Robert Palmer has bought the Jacksonville Armada, he announced Tuesday.
Palmer is the chief executive officer of mortgage lender RP Funding, based in Central Florida, and HomeValue.com. His takeover comes after previous owner Mark Frisch turned his ownership of the league over to the North American Soccer League earlier this year.
In Jacksonville, Palmer said he has personal and professional interests in Northeast Florida. He and his wife have owned a home in Neptune Beach since 2007, and his company has offices in a Baymeadows office park.
“The Armada really checked that box of helping me do something great for Jacksonville and helping further expand my brand up North,” Palmer said.
He said his plans for the team include growing the Armada’s at-home fan base and eventually finding a permanent venue for home games. The team currently plays at the University of North Florida’s Hodges Stadium and plans to stay there for at least the 2018 season.
Palmer envisions one place for both the Armada fields and RP Funding Jacksonville.
“Building a 100,000-square-foot office building for all the traditional Robert Palmer companies and then tacking on the soccer fields and training grounds and everything that the Armada needs, we can really do something special,” Palmer said.
He said identifying the location for the combined facility and starting construction is one his first priority as the team’s new owner.
He said the Armada’s total operating budget represents less than 20 percent of RP Funding’s TV and radio budget.
“When we’re looking at reallocating dollars, it’s not a big spend for us,” he said. “I’m very excited to see what we can accomplish by marrying the two brands together, having RP Funding on the front of that jersey.”
The Armada kick off their season at home July 30 against the San Francisco Deltas at 6 p.m.