Reno to USL for 2017

USLWe covered this a few weeks ago, and now it’s official: Reno will host a United Soccer League (USL) team beginning in 2017 at Aces Ballpark, home of baseball’s Triple-A Reno Aces.

Herb Simon, managing partner for Aces baseball, will own the USL franchise. A formal announcement is set for this coming Wednesday, complete with an appearance from Gov. Brian Sandoval and Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve. From the Reno Gazette-Journal:

The team will begin play in 2017 and its season will overlap the baseball season. Ballpark owners need the time to figure out the details of how the ballpark will be shared.

“We’ll have more to announce related to name, colors, tickets, etc,” Aces President Eric Edelstein said. “But still a lot to be determined and we’ll have time to do it right since we won’t launch until 2017 season.”

Edelstein has experience with pro soccer during his time with Rich Baseball, which had a business relationship with British teams. The Reno team would join USL teams playing out of ballparks in Louisville and Tulsa. (The Tulsa team is owned by the local baseball team; the Louisville team is the relocated Orlando City team.)

There are some issues to combining baseball and soccer. First, the grandstand arrangement used for a baseball game isn’t perfect for soccer, as one end will need to be played on the dirt infield and the pitching mound will need to be removed. Second, there’s the issue of wear and tear on a grass turf.

Finally, there’s the cost issue. On the one hand, pro soccer can be used to fill empty weekends on the baseball schedule, and the infrastructure to run a team (sales, concessions, facility) are already in place, so adding a team is a matter of incremental costs. On the other hand, adding a USL team will require investment: between $500,000 and $750,000 for the USL franchise, along with a $2 million or so operating budget. That requires investment and a commitment to cash flow.

Reno would be the 27th USL team, provided no teams drop out.

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