TAMPA (SportsTicker) – The USL Super League announced the initial group of markets that will make world-class professional women’s soccer accessible for more players, more fans, and more communities across the United States.
Set to kick off in August 2024, the USL Super League intends to launch as a first division league, reflecting its commitment to the highest standards in American soccer and a collective vision to be a global leader in women’s soccer on and off the field. The USL Super League will follow U.S. Soccer’s sanctioning process.
Initial markets for subsequent seasons (pending completion of a stadium project) include Chattanooga, Tenn, Indianapolis, Ind., Madison, Wisc., Oakland Calif. and Jacksonville, Fla.
Jacksonville is led by a local ownership group that includes NFL star and Heisman Trophy winner at the University of Florida, Tim Tebow, local entrepreneur Ricky Caplin and experienced club administrator Steve Livingstone, USL Super League Jacksonville will expand the club’s footprint to include both women’s and men’s professional soccer. The club is currently exploring multiple stadium and facilities development options to further expand access and opportunity across the region.
The USL Super League helps address the opportunity gap between men’s and women’s professional soccer in the United States, home of the world’s most successful women’s national team. There are currently 101 professional men’s soccer teams and 12 professional women’s soccer teams in the United States.
“Today marks a major milestone for the United Soccer League as we take another step in building an integrated women’s soccer network unlike any other,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said. “Our aim is to make the USL Super League globally recognized and admired for its financial stability, operational excellence, community building and high-level competition. We are establishing and growing our national footprint while ensuring that all our teams are owners or primary tenants of a soccer stadium. We are aligning our calendar and roster rules with the global game.
“With these objectives in mind, we will continue to demonstrate our commitment to equitable treatment of our men’s and women’s pathways, ultimately featuring clubs competing in all divisions and bringing soccer closer to home in markets across the entire country,” Papadakis said. “The USL Super League will sit at the top of our women’s pyramid with strong ownership groups, modern stadiums, and passionate fans that will deliver immediate viability and long-term sustainability.”
The USL Super League will provide a differentiated experience that includes playing on the international calendar and operating a connected women’s pathway from youth to professional.
The “fall-to-summer” calendar – unique in American soccer – aligns the USL Super League with the global game and prioritizes player welfare and performance. The youth-to-pro pathway creates development and advancement opportunities for players, coaches, referees, and front office employees while uniting communities and growing the sport at all levels across the United States.
The USL Super League will have 10-12 teams in its inaugural 2024 season, the first group of which are listed below.
Following the inaugural season, the USL Super League will strategically expand its national footprint. Multiple expansion teams are confirmed to join the league upon completion of their stadium and infrastructure projects, some of which are also listed below.
In the coming months, the USL Super League will announce additional markets whose clubs will
play in the inaugural season, and additional markets for future expansion.
“We’re excited to share the initial group of USL Super League markets that will bring professional women’s soccer closer to home for fans and players across America,” USL Super League President Amanda Vandervort said. “Our aim is to significantly expand opportunities in women’s soccer through strategic growth, build a pathway that connects talent with opportunity, and engage communities by celebrating a universal passion for the game expressed through local culture.
“The USL Super League aspires to be a global leader in women’s football, and we look forward to working together with all stakeholders to help shape the future of the game for women and girls in our country, across the region, and around the world,” Vandervort said. “We will actively advocate for new, compelling club competitions that drive visibility and value, and we offer our unwavering support for U.S. Soccer’s bid to co-host the 2027 FIFA Women’s World Cup.”
Initial Markets for Inaugural 2024 Season (more TBA in coming months):
• Charlotte, N.C. – USL Super League Carolina will add to the storied history of women’s soccer across the region. The team will play its home matches in historic American Legion Memorial Stadium, which is located in Charlotte’s urban core, was renovated in 2021, and is ideally laid out for top-level soccer matches. Local sports business entrepreneur Jim McPhilliamy will lead the formation of the club’s ownership group with the aim of reflecting the entire spirit of the USL Super League.
• Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas – USL Super League Dallas/Fort Worth, led by the Neil Family, will be the first professional women’s soccer team in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The Neil family represents over 40 years of Real Estate Investment Banking, current and former athletes in US Soccer / US Deaf Soccer and professional baseball, sports tech entrepreneurship, advertising, and decades spent in support of youth sports in North Texas. Multiple stadium options are being considered with the location to be announced in the coming months.
• Lexington, Ky. – Led by Lexington Sporting Club owner Bill Shively and his wife, Dixiana Farms co-owner Donna Shively, along with business partner Stephen Dawahare, Super League Lexington will realize the club’s ambition to provide the full women’s soccer pathway, including a USL Academy team and a USL W League team. As part of its commitment to providing the best experience for the community, the club is currently working to bring a 6,500-seat stadium and a training and medical complex to the Commonwealth.
• Phoenix, Ariz. – Led by the Phoenix Rising FC ownership group, USL Super League Phoenix will bring the highest level of professional women’s soccer to Arizona and will play at their new, centrally located and easily accessible stadium, just north of Sky Harbor International Airport.
• Spokane, Wash. – Aequus Sports, LLC, an investor group led by Spokane natives Ryan Harnetiaux, a longtime business strategist, and Katie Harnetiaux, a global business leader for Amazon North America. Super League Spokane will expand the club’s footprint to include both men’s and women’s professional soccer. The club will play in a new 5,500-seat stadium currently under construction and located in the North Bank Arts and Entertainment District.
• Tampa Bay, Fla. – Led by local real-estate developer Darryl Shaw, restaurateur, and former professional sports team owner David Laxer, and tech executive Jeff Fox, USL Super League Tampa Bay will bring the highest level of professional women’s sports to the region. The ownership group is exploring temporary stadium sites for the inaugural 2024 season with long-term plans to build a centrally located soccer-specific stadium for the USL Super League team to call home.
• Tucson, Ariz. – Led by FC Tucson owner and lifelong local soccer leader Jon Pearlman and RightSure Insurance founder, best-selling author, and club chairperson Jeff Arnold, USL Super League Tucson will bring the highest level of professional women’s soccer to the Old Pueblo. Multiple stadium options are being considered and the location will be announced in the coming months.
• Washington, D.C. – Attain Sports and Entertainment (AS&E), led by Founder and CEO Greg Baroni and in partnership with D.C. United, will add another exciting chapter to the remarkable history of major league sports in the Washington, D.C. area. With a playercentric and values-driven focus, Super League Washington, D.C. will be a platform to connect diverse communities and create impact through the power of sports.