From MLS expansion to new facilities in Division II and Division III USL, 2020 will be a notable year when it comes to professional soccer stadium openings in the United States.
At the top of the U.S. soccer pyramid, MLS is expanding to 26 teams after the additions of Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC, with both of those clubs launching in temporary homes—the result of new construction in Miami’s case—while mapping out long-term facility plans. Around USL, Division II USL Championship’s Louisville City FC is opening its own soccer-specific stadium after years of success at a ballpark, while several teams in Division III USL League One are putting the finishing touches on new facility plans.
Inter Miami CF—a long-awaited MLS expansion team backed by an ownership group that includes David Beckham—will play the 2020 season at a new stadium constructed as part of its training complex in Fort Lauderdale. Built on the former site of Lockhart Stadium, the new facility is intended to serve as the MLS squad’s temporary home as plans for a new Miami stadium are pursued. It will also host a new USL League One team backed by Inter Miami CF, with that club to remain in Fort Lauderdale on a permanent basis.
The status of Inter Miami CF’s stadium proposal in Miami is still very much up in the air, with discussions about redeveloping a city-owned golf course as part of a stadium/development project continuing as 2020 gets underway. Fort Lauderdale will serve as its home in the interim and helps the club launch on schedule.
Nashville SC, meanwhile, will begin play at Nissan Stadium as it continues planning a new stadium at the city’s fairgrounds. Though primarily home to the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, Nissan Stadium has experience hosting soccer matches, including international friendlies and select games for USL Championship’s Nashville SC in 2018 and 2019.
In USL Championship, Louisville City FC is preparing for the opening of Lynn Family Stadium. Constructed as part of a larger development initiative in Louisville’s Butchertown neighborhood, the soccer-specific stadium will feature a seating capacity of 11,700 and a total capacity reaching 14,000. Planning for Lynn Family Stadium has unfolded over the last several years, a response to the success Louisville City FC experienced after its 2015 launch at Louisville Slugger Field—primarily home to Minor League Baseball’s Bats (Class AAA; International League). The move into a new stadium should not only give Louisville City FC more control over revenues but will allow it to compete in a venue more optimized to professional soccer.
The USL League One season will be marked by a few notable facility developments, including two teams moving into renovated homes and one opening a brand-new facility. Orlando City B will play all home matches at a renovated Osceola County Stadium, a former MLB spring-training venue that most recently hosted MiLB’s Florida Fire Frogs (High A; Florida State League). Osceola County Stadium is located on the grounds of Osceola Heritage Park, which is being redeveloped into a training academy for Orlando City SC.
North Texas SC is shifting to Arlington, where it will move into a renovated Globe Life Park. Home of Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers from 1994-2019, Globe Life Park is currently undergoing a renovation that will allow it to become a multisport facility. After starting the season with two home matches at Toyota Stadium, North Texas SC will make its move to Globe Life Park in May. It will be joined at the venue by the XFL’s Dallas Renegades, who begin play next month.
Last but not least, Chattanooga Red Wolves SC will open a new stadium that is anchoring a larger development initiative. Led by Red Wolves Utah-based Star Community Builders owner Bob Martino, the development project calls for a 5,550-seat stadium to highlight a project that includes apartment and condominium units, hotel rooms, commercial space, and a mix of walking and nature trails. Under plans released by the Red Wolves in November, the stadium will feature a slate of amenities that includes a club area, beer garden, and kid’s zone.
As winter turns to spring, these facility developments will be realized with their teams’ home openers. The full list is here:
February 29: Nashville SC vs. Atlanta United FC
March 14: Inter Miami CF vs. LA Galaxy
April 11: Orlando City B vs. Chattanooga Red Wolves SC
April 11: Louisville City FC vs. Birmingham Legion
April 25: Chattanooga Red Wolves SC vs. Richmond Kickers
May 3: North Texas SC vs. Union Omaha