New pro soccer team coming to Chattanooga, CFC fans concerned
Professional soccer is coming to Chattanooga. The division three team will be a member of the franchise called "The United Soccer League."
The inaugural season will begin in March 2019 and organizers announced this week they will soon open a team headquarters on Broad Street.
CFC fans worry the pro league will take away from their fan base. However, officials with the pro team said there is enough room in Chattanooga for two teams.
“I think the time is right for another professional sports team to land here,” said Sean McDaniel.
McDaniel left the Chattanooga Football Club in July to head up Chattanooga professional soccer.
“What we have seen with Chattanooga's growth, economically and everywhere else it has really tilt the ground sort of speak for Chattanooga Pro Soccer to come into the market and entertain the fans,” said McDaniel.
McDaniel will serve as general manager for the franchise and lead the team with a business executive from Utah. The franchise is expected to create 40 full time jobs but still needs a team name, coaches, and players.
“We hope to be announcing a coach very soon, start signing players; get them here," said McDaniel.
McDaniel hopes the team will play at Finley Stadium, which is also home to the Chattanooga Mocs and the Chattanooga Football Club.
“That is what the stadium is for. If we can be part of putting people in that stadium and make a little economic epicenter, we are glad to be that," McDaniel said. "I feel encouraged by where we are with the negotiations.”
Some worry about the future of Chattanooga’s homegrown soccer team. The club's founding board member Tim Kelly said in a press release last month, "Our club was built, not bought. We were founded for Chattanoogan's by Chattanoogan's and, after 10 years, we're committed to growing the Chattanooga FC sustainably and responsibly from the ground up."
“A lot of passionate, passionate people. Both for the city of Chattanooga and soccer,” said Andrew Bresee.
Bresee is a Chattahooligan, perhaps the most passionate CFC support group. Chattanooligans help fill the stands. Bresee worries there may not be enough support to go around.
“Do you think a second minor league baseball team could co-exist with the Lookouts? Probably not. Is Chattanooga big enough for two soccer teams? I don't know,” said Bresee.
The team will move into its new headquarters in a few weeks at the old Harley Davison store on Broad Street, about a mile from Finley Stadium. McDaniel said he hopes to make it "soccer central" in Chattanooga.
Chattanooga may be big enough for two pro soccer teams. The CFC is one of eight teams in the National Premier Soccer League that reportedly said okay to moving forward with its own pro soccer league in 2019. That could mean two pro teams in different leagues.
Sheldon Grizzle with CFC sent Channel 3 this statement:
"We are Chattanooga’s Football Club. Chattanoogans take pride in supporting uniquely local things. We’ve been built by Chattanoogans over the last ten years. We are grateful for the local support from families, sports fans, Chattanooga lovers, and diehard supporters. We are not going anywhere and will be making some big announcements in the next month."
The pro team will host a meet and greet in October. Wednesday is the last day to vote on a team name.