May 20, 2009 // Franchising.com // Brandon, FL – i9 Sports, the world's first and fastest-growing youth sports franchise, announced today that it acquired its own Tampa Bay franchise territory, allowing the company to offer more local families the unique i9 Sports experience and continuously advance the operating systems that give i9 Sports franchisees a competitive edge in the youth sports industry.
"In today's uncertain economic climate, we felt that there was no better way to demonstrate our belief in the strength of the i9 Sports franchise model than to put our money where our mouth is and invest in a company-owned territory," said Frank Fiume, founder and CEO of i9 Sports. "We are thrilled to expand our services in our own back yard and offer the i9 Sports experience to more than 2.1 million households."
The newly expanded territory gives i9 Sports ownership over the entire Tampa Bay market spanning Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. Beyond increasing its connection with the local community, the company plans to use the company-owned territory for testing of new services, training tools, and marketing initiatives for its franchise system.
i9 Sports and its growing network of franchisees are cashing in on the multi-billion dollar sports and recreation industry where more than 42 million kids participate in youth sports around the country. Despite economic downturns, membership numbers have grown by 350 percent in the last two years. Focusing on equal play for every child, good sportsmanship and building self-esteem, i9 Sports boasts more than 200,000 members in 750 communities across 29 states, and projects to reach 1,000 in 2009.
"There is no better way to understand and address the challenges and the opportunities that our franchisees experience than to walk in their shoes," said Fiume. "Operating a local franchise and receiving direct feedback from i9 Sports parents in the Tampa market will allow us to better serve our franchisees and our customers across the country."
i9 Sports is a home-based opportunity that requires no upfront inventory, and no real estate or long-term lease commitment, the initial investment for the franchise is significantly lower than food or retail franchise concepts, ranging between $44,900 and $105,300 depending on territory size. New owners are set up to succeed in their markets with a customized 12 month strategic game plan that includes a demographic study for the territory, software that manages nearly every facet of the business and on-going technical and merchandise/marketing support.
Founded in 2003 by Frank V. Fiume, i9 Sports is the world's first and fastest-growing youth sports franchise, offering flag football, basketball, soccer, cheerleading, and other sports for kids ages 4 to 14. i9 Sports leagues put an emphasis on having fun and not on winning. There are no tryouts, drafts, or fundraisers, and i9 Sports encourages equal playing time for all kids in an effort to boost self-esteem. The name i9 Sports is based on nine principles that best symbolize the company's franchise and core ideology: imaginative, innovative, interactive, integrity-driven, impassioned, inspirational, instructional, insightful and inclusive. With more than 200,000 members in 750 communities, i9 Sports is planning an international expansion in 2010. The Franchise Business Review named i9 Sports the #1 mid-size franchise for 2008 and the #1 Sports, Recreation and Fitness franchise two years in a row. Entrepreneur Magazine recently ranked i9 Sports as the 15th Top New Franchise in America. Most recently, i9 sports was featured as an AllBusiness AllStar Franchise among the top 300 franchises in the country.