The USL could expand to Omaha, where a group of investors are considering the possibility of launching a franchise.
In what would mark an entry into a solid Midwestern market, the USL is being eyed by a group that includes Gary Green. Green is familiar to the city’s sports scene, as he owns Minor League Baseball’s Omaha Storm Chasers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), and has tentatively agreed to lead an effort to bring the USL to Omaha as early as the 2019 season.
Numerous details need to be addressed, but the group could look to establish the club at an existing venue in the Omaha area before eventually moving to a new soccer-specific stadium. Additionally, the investors would like to strike an affiliation agreement with an MLS franchise.
The area has a few venues capable of hosting the team in the interim, and Omaha’s size and location are among some of the advantages it offers to the USL. For now, however, Green is confirming that his group is moving forward with the exploration of establishing a club, but is also cautioning that plenty of work remains in the process to make it a reality. More from the Omaha World-Herald:
Green said the venture is “in the exploratory stages.” He has not signed any paperwork, and numerous challenges remain, such as lining up more investors and finding a place to play.
But he said the ownership group is proceeding with the aim of launching a USL team in 2019 or later and building a soccer-specific stadium. The team would play at an existing venue in town until a stadium could be built.
The investors have not yet identified a location, a timeline or a price for such a stadium. The USL is asking all of its teams to play in a soccer-specific stadium or have plans to do so by 2020.
Facilities capable of hosting pro soccer in the interim include TD Ameritrade Park, Creighton University’s Morrison Stadium, the Storm Chasers’ Werner Park and a few other sites.
Omaha is not the only city to be linked to a potential USL expansion franchise. Las Vegas has been reported to be in the mix, while Baltimore and Birmingham have also been floated as possible new markets for the league. The USL already has at least one expansion club lined up for 2018, as Nashville SC is set to debut next year.
Image of USL action courtesy Louisville City FC.