United Soccer League adds Lexington Pro Soccer, group seeks site for facility

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Team owners say Lexington’s love of sports, supporting businesses and diversity of culture in the horse racing industry made this city a prime spot for the expansion of the United Soccer League League One.

“There’s a significant portion of the community here that are from other country and speak other languages where soccer is the number one sport in those countries,” says Jake Edwards, the President of USL.

“It’s going to mean a lot to us and hopefully we can have a new achievement for Lexington for soccer,” explains Kayden, an aspiring soccer player.

Athletes like Kayden and Landon say they’re inspired to hit the grass running to one day become professional soccer players. Bill Shively, the founder of tower hill sports and the majority owner of Lexington pro soccer says it’s his dream too.

“This is to me for families. You have kids that are playing in a club and hopefully they’re wearing our colors and they grow up wanting to be on the team,” says Shively.

The USL says there’s going to be an youth academy built in the spring that’s going to be part of the professional club.

“These kids can aspire to play professionally for this team and if they’re good enough, the skies the limit,” adds Edwards.

The club’s inaugural season will be played at a yet to be announced collegiate facility, with designs on building a stadium adjacent to Rupp Arena.

“The beauty of this is with the smaller venues. Our venue will be 6-10 thousand you get close to everything,” says Shively.

A team name hasn’t been established yet. Team leaders are looking for the community to pitch ideas for one.

“We’re going to have an outreach to the community we really feel like everybody should get engaged.I think naming is the hardest thing,” says Shively.

From now until December, team leaders are going to be looking for your input. While a design team works on a logo to ultimately reflect the energy culture and diversity of the bluegrass with the community’s help. The USL says they’re going to start assembling their team about a year before they start playing professionally.

ORIGINAL (10-05-21)

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ/Press Release) – The United Soccer League announced Tuesday the addition of Lexington Pro Soccer as a USL League One expansion club set to begin play in the 2023 season.

The club’s inaugural season will begin at a local collegiate facility, the details of which will be announced in the coming weeks, the expansion team announced.

The majority owner of Lexington Pro Soccer is Tower Hill Sports, founded by Bill Shively.

“This is an exciting moment for USL League One, the city of Lexington, and Central Kentucky,” said USL President Jake Edwards. “Since League One’s inception, Lexington is a place we’ve wanted to be because of its celebrated sports history and growing appetite for soccer. With tremendous leadership in Bill Shively, Vince Gabbert and Tower Hill Sports, this club will create a new source of great pride for the people of Lexington and the Central Kentucky region.”

The current USL League One regular season involves 12 teams playing 28 games over 30 weeks, and concludes Oct. 30 with six teams qualifying for the playoffs.

In addition to Lexington, Ky., USL League One’s announced expansion markets over the next two seasons include Central Valley, Ca., Northern Colorado and Spokane, Wash.

The 12 existing teams are in Chattanooga, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Madison, Wisc., Greenville, S.C. New England, Raleigh-Durham, N.C., Richmond, Va., North Texas, South Georgia, Toronto, Tuscon, Ariz., and Omaha, Neb.

Lexington Pro Soccer will respond to the RFP for the High Street Development Project with the intent to construct a state-of-the-art, soccer-specific stadium at the site.

The venue would be able to accommodate festivals, concerts and other events, providing another entertainment option in downtown Lexington.

The club is also exploring multiple locations in Fayette County that could become the site of the club’s training grounds and USL Academy program.

“Lexington has a rich and storied tradition of sporting excellence, from the racetrack to the hardwood and beyond. Our local teams and athletes have long been among the best, and our fans are some of the most passionate in the nation. Our community is comprised of a diverse and international citizenry, which has a deep appreciation for the game of soccer. To bring a Professional club to Lexington is a natural fit,” said Club President Vince Gabbert. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to bring a USL League One club to our great city and to our incredible fans. League One features an impressive lineup of community-driven soccer clubs, and we’re honored that Lexington will now join that group and become a part of the USL family.”

The club’s brand and crest will take shape the coming months with local residents and soccer fans playing a vital role in the development process.

The club will conduct multiple focus groups, town hall sessions and workshops to gather ideas so that the club’s name, colors and marks reflect the energy, culture and diversity of the whole Lexington community.

Learn more about Lexington Pro Soccer online at www.LexingtonProSoccer.com.

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