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USL in Victoria, BC


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Pro-soccer backers eye 2008 start for developmental team

Cleve Dheensaw, Times Colonist

Published: Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Victoria will learn to crawl before it walks in the professional United Soccer League.

A group that wants to start a team here plans to establishing a USL franchise for the 2009 season as efforts to have a team by 2008 proved too ambitious.

The latest proposal is to have Victoria field a developmental team next summer in the USL's Premier Development League - a farm team league to the main USL - as a way to prepare for full entry into the USL the following year.

"Everything seemed to gather momentum and picked up speed because of the success of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Victoria but getting a USL team up and going by 2008 was always going to be tough," said businessman Alex Campbell Jr., who is heading the Victoria franchise group.

"The deadline for the next USL season has passed so we decided to go this route. This is a good place for us to start and lay the groundwork [before taking the team up to the USL the following season]."

Several soccer players in the North American top-tier MLS and second-tier USL springboarded to their pro careers from the Premier Development League, a wide-ranging circuit which fielded 63 teams across North American in 2007.

The franchises in the PDL include the Toronto Lynx, Ottawa Fury, Cleveland Internationals, Chicago Fire Premier, St. Louis Lions, Colorado Rapids Under-23s, Kansas City Brass, Albany Admirals, New Orleans Shell Shocker, Nashville Metros, Palm Beach Pumas, Atlanta Silverbacks Under-23s, Bakersfield Brigade, Fresno Fuego, San Francisco Seals and Los Angeles Storm.

A Victoria PDL team would play in the Northwest Division, which includes the Abbotsford Rangers, Tacoma Tide, Spokane Spiders, Yakima Reds, Brigham Young University Cougars, Cascade Surge of Oregon, and Ogden Outlaws of Utah.

"The Vancouver Whitecaps [of the USL] are also launching a PDL farm team next season," said Campbell.

"There are plenty of options to take in a developmental league such as this. We may even talk to English and Scottish pro clubs about opening the Victoria team as a training roster for their clubs," said Campbell.

Campbell said a Victoria PDL, and eventual USL franchise, hopes to play at a proposed new stadium in the Western Communities that could seat up to 10,000 fans.

"Once Royal Athletic Park took down the extra bleachers installed for the U-20 World Cup, it became not up to USL standards," said Campbell.

While Campbell says 4,000 to 4,500 fans are needed to support a pro USL franchise in Victoria, the demands in the mostly-amateur PDL are far less with average attendance in 2006 at only 561 across the league.

"We would hope to get up to 2,000 fans," said Campbell.


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Interesting. It's the right move on many fronts, but It sounds like the group doesn't have a good relationship with the city of Victoria if they're talking about playing at Juan de Fuca.

I thought Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe said the city would help make RAP a more permanent soccer facility by adding seats etc.

It could just be posturing though...

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quote:Originally posted by gwallace76

"Campbell said a Victoria PDL, and eventual USL franchise, hopes to play at a proposed new stadium in the Western Communities that could seat up to 10,000 fans."

Locating this team out of the Western Communities would be a really bad idea.

I couldn't agree more. A downtown team would be great because it makes for a good event. A team out in the Western Communities tells me 'we don't want football fans or corporate, we want to bring out soccer mom's with their kids', which means the atmosphere will be rubbish, which means why bother? Plus I don't want to drive out there from James Bay, I'll stick to going back to Vancouver for Whitecaps games.

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