Milwaukee awarded USL Championship franchise


USL awards franchise to Milwaukee Image: Kahler Slater, JLG & USL

The United Soccer League (USL) announced on October 19th the awarding of a new USL Championship franchise to a local investment group in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US.

‘United Soccer League’ stated that the club, led by local investors Kacmarcik Enterprises and Milwaukee Pro Soccer, will begin play in 2025 and will serve as the primary tenant of a new, 8,000-seat stadium to be constructed in the transformative sports and entertainment district called Iron District MKE.

The United Soccer League (USL), formerly known as the United Soccer Leagues, is the organizer of several soccer leagues with teams in the United States and Canada. It includes men’s and women’s leagues, both professional and amateur. Leagues currently organized are the USL Championship, USL League One, USL League Two, and the youth Super Y League. A new women’s league, the USL W League, began play in 2022. It is directly affiliated with the United States Soccer Federation and the United States Adult Soccer Association. The USL is headquartered in Tampa, Florida, US.

Impacting more than 200 communities, the United Soccer League (USL) is the largest professional soccer organization in North America. The USL is the first and only soccer organization in the United States to build a youth-to-professional pathway for both women and men within one ecosystem. That structure includes three professional leagues: USL Championship (men), USL Super League (women) and USL League One (men), two national pre-professional leagues: USL League Two (men) and USL W League (women), and two national youth leagues: USL Academy and Super Y League.

Wisconsin (US)-based the Kacmarcik Enterprises is a portfolio of companies in the Industrial, Human Performance and Social Impact and Consumer sectors, all of which are committed to the collective goal of positively impacting a million lives annually.

‘United Soccer League’ further stated that the new club will be the first professional outdoor soccer team in Milwaukee in more than two decades. Its founding reinforces Kacmarcik Enterprises’ belief in the State of Wisconsin as a soccer hotbed, following on its majority investment in Forward Madison FC, which plays in USL League One.

Enthused Justin Papadakis, Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Real Estate Officer, USL, “We are thrilled to welcome Milwaukee to the USL Championship and look forward to seeing the City’s vibrant soccer community fill their new stadium week in and week out. The Iron District MKE project is truly unique and transformative for the City, and we are proud that the USL will be a part of it. Based on what we’ve seen in Madison, we know the new Milwaukee club will be a top-tier soccer organization, providing best-in-class facilities for its players, a world-class soccer experience for its fans and a commitment to having a positive community impact.”

Justin Papadakis, COO and Chief Real Estate Officer, United Soccer League, was one of the key-note Speakers at the recently concluded Coliseum Summit US held at the Dignity Health Sports Park, Los Angeles.

Commented Jim Kacmarcik, Chairman and head honcho, Kacmarcik Enterprises: “This is an announcement we’ve been working towards behind the scenes for years, and I’m thrilled to bring high-level professional soccer to the City of Milwaukee. Milwaukee is a premier sports City with a rich soccer culture that runs deep throughout our community. This club, and the entire Iron District MKE project, shares an ambitious vision of making a positive impact on the City of Milwaukee, and we can’t wait to get started.”

Iron District MKE, announced earlier this year by Kacmarcik Enterprises and Bear Development, is an ambitious project that, in addition to the stadium, includes a 3,500-seat indoor concert venue, a 140-unit residential component, boutique hotel, and dining, nightlife and retail operations.

Construction is due to begin later this year.

The project has received tremendous support from the local community, which welcomes the commitment from Milwaukee Pro Soccer, Iron District MKE and the USL to develop a project that will contribute in a meaningful way to the culture and health of downtown Milwaukee.

Added Cavalier Johnson, Mayor of Milwaukee, “In discussions with the developers for Iron District and representatives from Milwaukee Pro Soccer, it’s clear that this group’s progressive and ambitious plans can have a transformative impact on an area of our City that needs this kind of investment. We are proud to welcome the USL Championship to Milwaukee, and I commend the entire Iron District group on the inclusive, community-focused approach they are taking with this project.”

In addition to the future Milwaukee Pro Soccer USL Championship franchise, the Iron District stadium will serve as the home for the Marquette University men’s and women’s soccer teams and lacrosse teams.

Maintained Dr. Michael R. Lovell, President, Marquette University, “It was important to us to sell the land for the Iron District to a strategic partner that would revitalize this high-profile corridor within Milwaukee’s Westown neighborhood. Together with Milwaukee Pro Soccer, the USL, Kacmarick Enterprises and Bear Development, we are accomplishing that. The legacy we are building will be transformational to Milwaukee and to Marquette, and it will create invaluable opportunities for the region as well as Marquette’s student-athletes and fans. We look forward to all that this USL Championship franchise will do for our community.”

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