United Soccer League (USL) officials — alongside team owners, Mayor William Bell and other city leaders — have announced the finalization of plans to bring a USL team to Birmingham, Alabama. The announcement represents the first USL expansion club to join the league for 2019. Official USL play in Birmingham will begin that year, with a Premier Development League (PDL) season preceding it in 2018.
“The USL continues to lead the growth of professional soccer across the country and we are thrilled to announce Birmingham as our newest market,” said USL CEO Alec Papadakis. “With the increasing popularity and demand for professional soccer across the country, more and more fans recognize the high level of competition and excitement of the USL.
“We continue toward our goal of becoming one of the top Division II leagues in the world, on par with the English Championship, Liga Adelante and 2. Bundesliga. We will achieve that goal by continuing to deliver a first-class soccer experience for fans, players and communities like Birmingham by providing unparalleled league support to all our clubs, and building one of the best ownership groups in professional soccer.”
“Birmingham is an ideal market for USL, clicking off all of the criteria we require in a new expansion market,” continues Papadakis. “We welcome the club’s owners to the USL family, and are excited for the plans they have in store for the Magic City. Soccer fans in Birmingham will experience all the excitement of a first-class professional club, with the full support of the USL league office. Congratulations to the entire team in Birmingham. We look forward to their USL debut in 2019.”
Until the club’s official name, crest and other branding elements are developed, the Birmingham team will operate as ‘USL Birmingham’. According to recently hired vice president of the club, Morgan Copes, USL Birmingham staffing is a key next step, with additions targeted for end of year or early 2018.
Details on the team’s home venue will be made at a future date. Birmingham city planning leaders, alongside key USL and USL Birmingham representatives, are working together on the most effective field solution, with a downtown location for the stadium the preferred option.
“We want to be in or near the center of the city and have walkable amenities nearby. That is our goal, and we are working on it,” said Copes. “Having a first-rate match day experience for our supporters is a high priority for us.”
August 9, 2017