Entire minor soccer league wants new stadiums by 2020

Detroit doesn’t have an MLS team or particular plans for one, but it does have two minor-league teams, Detroit City FC and the Michigan Bucks, which play in the National Premier Soccer League and the USL Premier Development League, respectively, both of which Wikipedia claims to be the 4th tier of U.S. soccer. (Once you’re that many tiers down, who really cares?) And at least one of these amateur squads could be about to get its very own new soccer stadium, or at least free land for it:

The city has reportedly indicated a willingness to “provide land on the Detroit waterfront for either club if it needs more room.”

With minor-league soccer teams like Indy Eleven already clamoring for stadium subsidies, you have to wonder how many more minor-league soccer teams are going to start asking for new buildings. And the answer, apparently, is all of them:

The USL is pleased to announce a groundbreaking multi-year partnership designating global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm HOK as the Official Stadium Design Partner of the league. HOK will lead a stadium development, design and standards initiative supporting the league’s strategic initiative to house all USL clubs in soccer-specific stadiums across North America by the end of the decade.

That’s a whole mess of stadiums: 24 for now, though the league may yet expand beyond that in the near future. Even if some of these end up being renovations rather than entirely new buildings, you can see why HOK (which is no longer the same as Populous, which used to be HOK) would jump at the chance to get all those new design contracts, even if most won’t like be big-ticket jobs.

As for the USL, this allows the league and its teams to stake a claim to the burgeoning cities-throwing-money-at-soccer-teams market, and get “[Fill in team name here] needs a new stadium by 2020” articles in every USL city across the nation. Why, look, here’s one from Louisville!

A team that opened its inaugural season playing at Louisville Slugger Field still has “a lot of work to do” to meet the USL’s stadium mandate by the end of the decade, [Louisville City FC owner Wayne] Estopinal said Thursday.

Remember, people: When a team owner says he wants a new stadium, it’s just a demand. When a league says it wants new stadiums for its teams, it’s a mandate.

10 comments on “Entire minor soccer league wants new stadiums by 2020

  1. Neil, is there a specific reason that Atlanta’s MLS team can play in their city’s new NFL stadiums, but Minnesota can’t?

    Also this USL initiative is kid of misleading because we all know the first 2 or 3 USL teams that build new stadiums, like Indy for example, are going to do so with public money with their hopes set on ditching the USL for the MLS… and even though it probably won’t happen, it’ll still be the narrative.

    And if using public money on stadiums is a bad idea, and using public money on minor league baseball stadiums are a bad idea, then using public money to build minor league soccer stadiums with 0 chance of hosting an MLS franchise has to be an even bigger bust.

    I wonder if each team will have its own USL affiliate where it can bring players up mid-season like baseball?

  2. According to MLS, it will only allow teams to play in NFL stadiums if they’re the owner, not the tenant, and the Vikings got passed over as Minneapolis owner in favor of the Minnesota United FC group. Whether you consider that an actual “reason” is between you and your god.

    There are already a bunch of MLS teams that have B squads playing in lower-level leagues. I doubt it’ll ever be a true affiliate system like baseball, though, because soccer is soccer.

  3. Ah, yes! I remember reading that on here awhile back, but for some reason it didn’t jump out as a justifiable reason lol. Thank you for clarifying that.

  4. Any chance this has the unintended impact of uniting the cities in rejecting spending on unnecessary minor league soccer stadiums? I always thought the fact that each city had to fight this battle on their own was part of the reason they fare so poorly. I presume cities don’t communicate about these things with each other, but maybe announcing a league wide demand would inspire them to try?

  5. Neil,
    Do you see long-term that cities are starting to listen to the studies saying stadiums do not bring any extra revenue to anyone?
    And this plan is the league trying to get what it can before everyone realizes firefighters are more important than stadiums?

  6. This reminds me of the National Lampoon cover announcing McGovern’s candidacy with Nixon laughing. Are you serious? Do they think they can actually pull this off? Or is every po-dunk town with a couple hundred thousand people is going to throw millions at this just like my former home city Columbia, SC, did at a Frontier League team.

  7. Sounds like fun! I gotta buy myself a USL team for the Twin Cities area once the United FC is a Major League team. It will get me to the Minnesota state legislature sooner than 2030 when I declare my Target Field “obsolete.”

  8. I think part of the push is related to the fact that USL is trying to get the USSF to promote it back to the 2nd tier of the pyramid and move NASL back down to the 3rd tier of the pyramid.

  9. They should just build their own pyramid. I bet Qatar would lend them some slaves.

  10. @Anonymous @Neil – The saddest thing is is that in the United States and Canada the entire pyramid is meaningless since there is no promotion and relegation. If NASL or ULS wanted to be “first tier” they could just go out, spend the money on better players than MLS, get the TV contracts etc.