Group Seeking to Launch USL Buffalo Club in 2023

Orange County SC

A USL Buffalo club could begin play in 2023, if a plan from a pair of real estate developers can come to fruition.

An ownership group led by Connecticut-based John H. McClutchy Jr., joined in the effort by Buffalo developer Dennis Penman, is seeking to launch a Buffalo-based team in USL Championship. The group’s vision calls for the club to play in a new 10,000-seat stadium that would be designed to host other events beyond professional soccer, and potentially be the anchor of new development in the surrounding area.

On Tuesday, it was announced that the group had entered into a conditional agreement with USL to bring a USL Championship expansion club to Buffalo. The actual launch of the club hinges on several factors, including the completion of economic feasibility studies and the finalization of stadium plans. Plenty of details still need to be settled on the stadium, as the ownership group will have to move forward with a site–at least four sites in or near downtown Buffalo are apparently under consideration–and pin down a financial plan. Should all of these elements fall into place, the Buffalo team could begin USL Championship play in the 2023 season.

Backers of the effort believe that USL Championship would be a natural fit in Buffalo’s professional sports scene, which currently includes NFL, NHL, and Minor League Baseball franchises. More from the Buffalo News:

McClutchy and Penman are eyeing at least four potential sites in or near downtown Buffalo for a facility capable of seating at least 10,000 people.

“As long as I’ve known it, Buffalo is a sport-oriented community,” said McClutchy, a housing and commercial developer from Stamford, Conn., who has previously worked with Penman. “The Bills always do well. The Sabres do well. The Bisons do well. This is a new activity that Buffalo doesn’t have, but it fits directly into the general culture in Buffalo.”

McClutchy and Penman hope to see the first game played in Buffalo in March 2023.

In Tuesday’s announcement, USL officials acknowledged that there is plenty of work to be done to make the plans in Buffalo a reality, but expressed a belief that Buffalo is a strong fit for the league.

“The City of Good Neighbors speaks for itself. Buffalo is a tight-knit community and an exceptionally passionate and prideful sports town,” USL Chief Operating Officer Justin Papadakis said in a press statement. “Like our league, Buffalo is growing and the prospect of contributing to that growth with a USL Championship club is exciting. We know that there’s a lot of work to be done before a franchise can become reality, but the opportunity to unite Buffalo and energize its soccer community around a professional club has great value for the city’s future.” 

Image of USL action courtesy USL and Orange County SC.

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