Chris Martinovic and Warren Smith are bringing professional men’s USL Championship and women’s USL Super League soccer to Northwest Arkansas–the communities of Bentonville, Fayetteville, Rogers and Springdale–as well as a new stadium.
Martinovic is a local business owner, and Smith is well-known in pro soccer circles for ownership and management on several pro soccer levels.
“As a former player, I am delighted to bring professional soccer to Northwest Arkansas, a region that so richly deserves it,” Martinovic said via press release. “I have seen firsthand the power of soccer in bringing communities together, and I am excited about the positive impact this club will have on our region.”
“I have been visiting my family here for 33 years and have watched how this community punches above its weight class creating a dynamic place to live, work, and to play,” Smith said via press release. “We look forward to the beautiful game adding to that while working with local authorities, community leaders, and most importantly, the fans, to create a soccer club that reflects the unique spirit of this community and that makes us all proud.”
In addition to providing the region with its first professional soccer team, USL Arkansas is committed to developing a 5,000+ seat multi-purpose stadium nestled in the heart of the Pinnacle Hills entertainment district in Rogers. USL Arkansas’s goal is to begin play in the USL Championship prior to the 2026 FIFA World Cup kicks off in the United States and in the fall that same year for the USL Super League.
“USL Arkansas represents a new chapter in the USL story,” said USL Deputy CEO and Chief Real Estate Officer Justin Papadakis. “Northwest Arkansas is a rapidly growing region with a vibrant community, making it the perfect location for this expansion. We have successfully partnered with Warren in numerous markets and his experience coupled with Chris’ passion for his community are the perfect ingredients to create something special for this emerging region. We can’t wait to see the positive impact this club and their teams will have on the local community and beyond.”
USL Arkansas has begun a listening session campaign where the club hopes to learn from the community what it wants to see from their club. The official team name, colors, and branding will be developed through this process and over the months to come.