On Monday, plans were unveiled for the latest USL expansion team, as a USL Memphis club will begin play at AutoZone Park in 2019.
AutoZone Park is also home to baseball’s Memphis Redbirds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), and the USL Memphis club’s ownership group will be led by Principal Owner Peter Freund and President Craig Unger. Freund and Unger also serve in those roles for the Redbirds, a club whose success at AutoZone Park last season was a major reason why Trinity Sports Holdings was awarded 2017 Organization of the Year by sister site Ballpark Digest.
“The addition of Memphis to the USL is another landmark for the growth of both the league and the sport of soccer in the Southeast,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said in a press statement. “The USL continues to lead this growth in the sport’s popularity and demand by identifying and securing thriving expansion markets, with Memphis the latest example. This in turn continues to drive the league toward its goal of becoming one of the top Division II leagues in the world, alongside the likes of the English Championship, Liga Adelante in Spain, and Germany’s 2. Bundesliga.
Branding for the USL Memphis club is expected to be revealed at a later date.
“Memphis has already shown itself to be a passionate sporting city, with the work Peter Freund, Craig Unger and their organization at the Memphis Redbirds a perfect illustration of that,” Papadakis continued. “We are extremely pleased to add Peter and Craig to our already world-class ownership group, and believe the experience they bring from operating and managing a professional sports organization will mirror the success other USL clubs with similar backgrounds have built.”
“When I first visited AutoZone Park before purchasing the Redbirds, I immediately recognized the potential for it to be home to more than one professional sports team,” Freund said in a statement. “We will build an entirely separate organization focused on providing an authentic soccer experience similar to what Yankee Stadium, home to the New York City Football Club, has been able to achieve at the MLS level.”
“AutoZone Park is a big part of the fabric of the city and is the setting for so many memories for people each year, and now, we are going to be able to invite even more people to experience the excitement,” Unger said in a statement. “The stadium will now be buzzing every weekend from March through September.”
Rendering courtesy USL.