At the Greenville Chamber’s 129th Annual Meeting on February 1st, President and CEO Carlos Phillips announced that the United Soccer League (USL) is in talks to bring professional soccer to Greenville beginning in the 2019 season.
The USL – one of the most prominent Division II soccer leagues in the world – has announced the launch of a new Division III (D3) league to bring a proven, professional soccer experience to new cities around the country. The league will initially launch in 8-12 markets. USL officials visited Greenville in 2017 and began discussions with the Greenville Chamber along with several other organizations and community leaders.
The league now is in talks with potential local ownership and discussing viable locations to construct a first-class stadium. Plans call for the team to play in an existing facility in the Greater Greenville area for the 2019 inaugural season consisting of about 14 home matches and several exhibition matches scheduled from March to mid-September.
“Having a USL D3 franchise in Greater Greenville would be a win for the entire Upstate,” said Phillips. “Communities around the country are seeing first-hand how the presence of a USL franchise helps them recruit companies and attract and retain young professionals – the key demographic for pro soccer, as well as a critically important group in growing a vibrant economy.”
Greenville County is an ideal market for the USL with a population of 500,000, key demographics and a strong corporate presence from companies like BMW, Michelin, GE, TD Bank, Fluor and Samsung.
The Upstate boasts more than 8,000 youth soccer players, and 22 teams compete in Greenville County’s recreational adult soccer league. During the past five years, South Carolina ranked second nationally for growth in youth soccer participation for girls and fifth nationally for participation in boys’ soccer. Clemson University and Furman University are home to both storied and nationally ranked men’s and women’s college soccer teams.