Monday, 15 Apr 2024

Pro Soccer Coming to Northwest Arkansas: A New Era for Football Enthusiasts

cost to build a 5,000-seat stadium

Tampa-based professional soccer organization, the United Soccer League (USL), is teaming up with USL Arkansas to bring professional soccer to Northwest Arkansas. The partnership includes plans to establish both men’s and women’s soccer teams and build a state-of-the-art, 5,000-seat stadium in Rogers. The stadium, estimated to cost $15 million, is expected to open in early 2026.

A Dream Turned Reality

USL Arkansas, led by co-founders Chris Martinovic and Warren Smith, has been working tirelessly for years to make professional soccer a reality in Northwest Arkansas. Martinovic, a former professional and college soccer player, initiated the efforts about four years ago. Smith, who played a key role in establishing the San Diego Loyal SC, joined the project in late 2022.

“As a former player, I am delighted to bring professional soccer to Northwest Arkansas, a region that so richly deserves it,” said Martinovic. “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.”

Location is Key

The 11.5-acre stadium will be situated at the southwest corner of Lazy L Street and Bellview Road, north of Pinnacle Hills Promenade. The strategic choice of location near other amenities and restaurants is aimed at providing a complete entertainment experience for fans attending games that typically last about two hours.

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Drawing on market research conducted by Steve Lane from Colliers International in Rogers, the stadium site in the Pinnacle Hills area was carefully selected. Smith emphasized the importance of having the “new living room for your region” as a place where fans can enjoy a four-hour experience.

Modular Flexibility and Community Events

Designed by U.K.-based Greyville Sports, known for their work on similar projects like the Austin Bold Stadium, the stadium will be a modular facility. This design allows for flexibility to meet market needs and enables the venue to host community events, concerts, graduations, and even high school sports.

Although the initial estimate for the stadium’s cost is around $15 million, a more definitive figure will be determined during the design process. If warranted, the site has the potential to accommodate a 15,000-seat stadium. Similar stadium projects have been successfully completed in Austin, Texas, Loudoun County, Va., Phoenix, and Sacramento, Calif.

“This kind of facility, which we liken to an above-ground erector set, generally costs about 15%-20% of a traditional brick-and-mortar facility,” Smith explained. The stadium will also include a 350-space parking lot, with an additional 400 parking spaces available on land adjacent to the Courtyard by Marriott hotel on Green Acres Road.

Economic Impact and Community Involvement

Establishing a new USL club in a community has the potential to generate an economic impact ranging from $50 million to $200 million annually, depending on the market. The project aims to create hundreds of jobs in the region.

USL Arkansas plans to involve the community in shaping the team’s identity. They have launched a campaign to gather input and feedback from the public on what they want to see from the club. The official name, colors, and branding will be developed through an inclusive process over the coming months.

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“We aim to build a symbol of unity for Northwest Arkansas. That’s only possible by listening and will be instrumental in shaping the identity of our team,” said Martinovic.

FAQs

Q: When will the teams begin playing?
A: The Northwest Arkansas teams are expected to start playing in their respective leagues in 2026. The men’s team will begin playing before the start of the 2026 FIFA World Cup in the United States, while the women’s team will start after it.

Q: What leagues will the teams compete in?
A: The men’s team will join the USL Championship, and the women’s team will compete in the USL Super League. The USL Championship currently consists of 24 teams, while the USL Super League is set to begin play in August 2024 with 10-12 teams.

Q: What can fans expect from the game experience?
A: USL Championship games often attract over 5,000 fans, with some teams exceeding 10,000 attendees. The goal is to create a seamless, enjoyable experience that allows visitors to fully engage with the area’s attractions.

Conclusion

The arrival of professional soccer in Northwest Arkansas marks a new era for football enthusiasts in the region. The collaboration between USL and USL Arkansas will not only bring the beautiful game to the community but also generate a significant economic impact and create job opportunities. With a state-of-the-art, flexible stadium and a commitment to involving the community, the future looks bright for football in Northwest Arkansas.

To stay updated on the latest news and developments, visit Pesstatsdatabase, your go-to source for all things football.

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