A GROWING LIST OF CLUBS IN THE USL LEAGUE ONE LANDSCAPE ARE WELL ON THEIR WAY TO NEWLY CONSTRUCTED OR RECENTLY RENOVATED HOMES
TAMPA, Fla. – Last month, Lexington Pro Soccer made waves with a proposal to construct a world-class soccer-specific stadium in the heart of downtown Lexington, Ky.
Lexington joins a growing list of clubs in the USL League One landscape now on their way to newly constructed or recently renovated homes. The surge in facility upgrades around League One—providing top-quality venues for players and supporters—has further strengthened the league’s position in the professional soccer landscape in the United States as it continues to add new expansion markets across the country.
Lexington Pro Soccer released renderings of a proposed downtown stadium ahead of its inaugural League One season in 2023. Designed to be the centerpiece of the forthcoming High Street Development Project, the stadium would stand in downtown Lexington directly across from the Central Bank Center and Rupp Arena.
“Lexington is the ideal home for a thriving professional soccer club. We have all of the ingredients needed to make Lexington Pro Soccer one of the best teams in the league–except a professional-quality stadium,” said Bill Shively, Founder of Tower Hill Sports and Majority Owner of Lexington Pro Soccer. “We’re firmly committed to building a state-of-the-art stadium for Lexington’s soccer club, and we hope to do that right in the heart of downtown Lexington.”
The 6,000-plus-seat stadium would feature 45,000 square feet of entertainment-focused retail with patio views overlooking both the stadium and Rupp Arena. The surrounding development project would include a 160-room hotel, a 250-unit resort-style residential development and would create a broader entertainment area in downtown Lexington.
In January, an initial proposal was introduced to local leaders by the City of Mauldin and Greenville County to be the new home of Greenville Triumph SC. The proposal would provide the 2020 League One champion with a new $38.6 million, 8,100-seat venue.
Located in the heart of Triumph SC-supporter territory, the initial proposal would see the stadium anchor the upcoming Bridgeway Station, a $150 million, 38-acre mixed-use retail, office, residential and entertainment complex. The new venue would be owned by Greenville County and operated by Greenville Triumph SC, serving as the club’s new headquarters.
The recent proposals add to a trio of stadium projects currently on the horizon that will host current and future League One sides. The City of Spokane has broken ground on a $31 million downtown stadium project that will host a League One expansion that plans to join the league in 2024 upon the venue’s completion. Located on the banks of the Spokane River, the 5,000-seat stadium will also be home to a USL W League club, all five local high schools and will have an estimated annual economic impact of $11.4 million.
“It’s a special day for the city of Spokane,” said United Soccer League COO and Chief Real Estate Officer, Justin Papadakis in May 2021. “Today’s approval is the culmination of a lot of hard work and energy, and we’re especially thankful to the Downtown Spokane Partnership, led by Mark Richard, the Public Facilities District, led by Stephanie Curran, as well as the Spokane Public School Board. We look forward to Spokane having a professional soccer club that the community can call its own and believe it has all the ingredients to be something truly special.”
For two additional League One clubs in South Georgia Tormenta FC and Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC, a pair of impressive stadium projects are nearing completion. The 5,300-seat Optim Health System Field at Tormenta Stadium in Statesboro, Ga. will become the largest purpose-built soccer stadium in the state when it’s completed in the coming months. Tormenta FC’s new home will feature luxury suites, a multi-functional gym for players and host the organization’s League One, League Two, W League and academy clubs.
Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC will call Future Legends Sports Complex home following its completion in the coming months. An hour north of Denver, the 118-acre sports complex in Windsor, Colo. will feature a professional stadium, an indoor multi-purpose dome, 10 multipurpose turf fields, lodging, retail and more. Surrounding the stadium will be a larger development area that will feature a Publix, movie theater, hotel and commercial and residential spaces.
In addition, Knoxville, Tenn.’s new multi-use stadium has been given the green light and is slated to begin construction in Spring 2022. With a scheduled completion planned for 2024, the multi-use venue will serve as the future home of One Knoxville SC, a new club in USL League Two beginning this season, with ambitions to eventually jump to the professional ranks.
The 7,000-plus-seat stadium will be the centerpiece of a $142 million development in Knoxville’s Old City area that will bring validity to the city and club’s professional soccer aspirations.
In three potential expansion markets around the country, stadium proposals have also been introduced to earn a bid for a League One club. In Fort Wayne, Ind., city leaders in February 2021 introduced a proposal for a $150 million downtown development that would feature a stadium, fieldhouse, event center and hotel and serve as the new home of USL League Two’s and future League One hopeful Fort Wayne FC.
“We all know that a vibrant downtown drives the overall health of a vibrant community. But we’re just getting started,” said Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry. “Let me be the first to tell you a memorandum of understanding is now in place for a major development on the North River site. It’s a proposed project exceeding $150 million.”
In July 2021, leaders of USL to Portland presented a pair of stadium proposals to local leaders in hopes of bringing Maine its first professional soccer club. The project in Maine’s largest city would either convert an existing field on Preble Street to professional quality or redevelop and upgrade downtown Fitzpatrick Stadium.
“The prospect of having a professional team here in Portland could be life-changing for so many Portlanders coming from all corners of the world,” said Julia Trujillo, Director of the City of Portland Office of Economic Opportunity. “It would enhance their sense of belonging and therefore, their retention in the city. Soccer is more than a sport; it is a unique and exciting opportunity to bring our community together.”
On the opposite end of the country, in Modesto, Calif., a new downtown stadium potentially on the horizon team has led local business leaders to ponder the feasibility of professional soccer coming to the area.
The proposed Great Valley Coliseum would cost between $85 and $122 million and could host as many as 5,000 fans and 300 events per year.
Lastly, a pair of League One clubs have already cut the ribbon of their new or renovated stadiums in Chattanooga Red Wolves SC’s new CHI Memorial Stadium and Charlotte Independence’s American Legion Memorial Stadium. Opened on Aug. 1, 2020, the Red Wolves’ new home set a new standard in the League One stadium space, with a 5,500-seat stadium that sits on 100 acres of land that will soon be developed into a $125 million mixed-use area.
For Charlotte, the two-year, $40.5 million renovation project to the 85-year-old American Legion Memorial Stadium has turned the historic Charlotte venue into a world-class soccer facility featuring upgrades to the playing surface, fan concourse, press box and an addition of a 40-foot-by-60-foot video board.
The 2022 USL League One campaign kicks off on April 2 and will feature 165 matches between 11 clubs over the course of seven months. Every League One match can be viewed on ESPN+. The season will conclude with the 2022 USL League One Final which will air on Sunday, Nov. 6 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
Pulled from www.uslleagueone.com