Plans are taking shape for another USL expansion team, as the circuit will add an El Paso USL club for the 2019 season.
El Paso USL will be led by MountainStar Sports Group, the owner and operator of baseball’s El Paso Chihuahuas (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League). For its inaugural season, the soccer club will share a facility with the Chihuahuas, as both teams will play in downtown El Paso’s Southwest University Park.
“It is with distinct pleasure and great enthusiasm that we welcome the illustrious city of El Paso to the USL family,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said in a press statement. “The distinguished ownership group comprised of Woody Hunt, Josh Hunt, Paul Foster and Alejandra De la Vega-Foster add to the world-class ownership groups already present in the USL, and in MountainStar Sports Group President Alan Ledford the group includes one of the most admired executives in professional baseball, whose leadership helped the El Paso Chihuahuas to be recognized as one of MiLB’s most successful teams and to average in the top five in attendance in the Pacific Coast League each of the past four seasons. Add to that the group’s experience in building FC Juarez of Mexico’s Liga Ascenso into a strong organization over the past three years, and the tremendous passion for civic responsibility MountainStar Sports Group has shown throughout its history, I have no doubt this group will propel its new USL team to remarkable achievements both on and off the field in the coming years.”
As noted, the club will at first play its home matches at Southwest University Park. However, the ownership group has been pursuing an agreement for a new soccer-specific stadium, with a goal of constructing the facility in or near downtown, according to MountainStar president Alan Ledford. More from The El Paso Times:
MountainStar has been in discussions with city and county officials about building a soccer stadium for an El Paso team, although plans are pending, Ledford said.
“Our ultimate objective as we’ve said is to be in a soccer-specific stadium — obviously, an outdoor stadium in or near Downtown with a natural turf field,” Ledford said.
Problems with getting a proposed Downtown arena built are not a factor in trying to get a soccer stadium built, Ledford said last year.
MountainStar has spent the past three years looking at potential soccer stadium sites in and around the Downtown area.
The Chihuahuas have been a solid draw since Southwest University Park opened in 2014. Along with the Chihuahuas, MountainStar’s portfolio includes minority ownership of FC Juaréz of Mexico’s Liga Ascenso.
“Since our inception, improving the quality of life in our region and promoting economic development have been our core objectives,” MountainStar Chairman and CEO Josh Hunt said in a statement. “We’re very proud to bring this high level of professional soccer to El Paso and to be a part of the USL.”
“Our market has demonstrated the extraordinary way it supports its sports teams, and given the popularity of soccer throughout this region, we expect Division II USL soccer to be very popular,” Ledford said in a statement. “MountainStar Sports Group is excited about this opportunity to bring some of the best players in the country to play in front of some of the best fans in the country.”
Branding for the El Paso USL club will be announced at a later date. This is the latest club to be added to the USL for 2019, joining Birmingham Legion FC, a new Memphis team that will play at AutoZone Park, and a USL Austin club that is working to launch next year. In addition, recent reports indicate that San Diego’s 1904 FC is planning to begin USL play in 2019.
Image courtesy El Paso USL.