Baltimore remains in the mix for a USL expansion franchise, with the effort to finalize a stadium plan continuing to unfold.
Previous reports have linked Baltimore to the USL, with news of an effort for an expansion franchise surfacing earlier this year. More information has been reported about the city’s bid, which is being led by a local group that includes Paul Tiburzi, a former chairman of a the Camden Yards Sports and Entertainment Commission and currently a partner at the law firm DLA Piper.
USL president Jake Edwards is confirming that the league is engaged with the group. He has also added that the league is working to have ownership of the franchise in place by August, with a stadium plan ready by 2018, allowing for the Baltimore club to begin play in 2020.
According to Edwards, the USL and Baltimore are making progress, but plenty of work remains in the process. At least two neighborhoods–Fells Point and Canton–have been considered for stadium sites, and the USL is hoping that a state-of-the-art venue can be secured. More from The Baltimore Sun:
Key to the application is an experienced, well-capitalized and local ownership group with a commitment to investing in the team’s infrastructure. The Baltimore group, which includes Paul Tiburzi, a partner at the DLA Piper law firm and former chairman of the Camden Yards Sports and Entertainment Commission, has “the right business plan to execute, and they have the right stadium plan,” Edwards said.
A USL official said the league has scouted Fells Point and Canton as potential sites for an 8,000- to 10,000-seat stadium, the construction of which Edwards deemed essential to the potential franchise’s future.
“The fans there deserve a quality stadium to watch the game in and support their team in, and that’s exactly what we want to put together,” he said. “We don’t want to do this with any half-measures.”
Either Fells Point or Canton could provide a stadium site that is relatively close to downtown, and walkable to other amenities.
Overall, Baltimore has had a sporadic history with soccer. The NASL’s Baltimore Comets had a brief run at Memorial Stadium in the 1970’s, and Crystal Palace Baltimore played the 2007-2009 seasons in the USL Second Division, before playing its final campaign in the USSF Division 2 Professional League. The Premier Development League’s Baltimore Bohemians lasted from 2012-2016 before revealing earlier this year that they were going on hiatus.
Photo courtesy USL and Sacramento Republic.