Photo courtesy of Joshua Berry/flickr
A city on the rise, Huntsville, Alabama, impressed United Soccer League’s Division III expansion team during its visit to the city on Wednesday.
Huntsville is the fastest-growing tech town in the United States and is the third-largest city in the state, but on track to become Alabama’s largest city within the next decade. The booming city’s thriving youth soccer scene and efforts to stimulate growth and development downtown are among the many reasons why USL’s DIII executives were thrilled with their recent visit.
“Huntsville is poised for tremendous success,” USL’s DIII Vice President Steven Short told USLD3.com. “The league had the opportunity to meet with city officials, as well as local business leaders, and visit several stadium options for a professional soccer club. We were thrilled with what we learned about the city’s growth plan, community and sport facility options. The city is bolstering its sports infrastructure, and the downtown core is undergoing a revitalization.
“The progressive nature of Huntsville is leading to new forms of entertainment, as local leadership maintains a comprehensive vision for the city,” Short added. “Microbreweries are establishing themselves, while an entertainment district is developing, driving communal gathering areas for all ages and people to downtown – as witnessed by the abundance of urban living developments.”
Since the new third-division league, set to kick off in 2019, was officially announced in April, the expansion team has visited 18 different cities in the Southeast and Midwest.
The USL’s third-division league intends to bring a proven professional experience to new markets across the nation, and many in Huntsville are eager to follow the league’s progress.
“There would be great support,” University of Alabama at Huntsville Men’s Soccer Head Coach Chris Kranjc told USLD3.com. “You have two very big soccer clubs in the city with United Soccer Club and Huntsville Futbol Club, as well as a lot of other good clubs in town.
“If there’s a professional team here in Huntsville, people are going to want to see them play.”
Following positive meetings in the city, the league is ready to make that desire become a reality and is eager to remain in constant conversation with the local influencers.
“The league looks forward to continue working with the City of Huntsville,” Short said, “and its local leadership to bring professional soccer to the Rocket City.”