(press release) CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Aug. 1, 2018) – Professional soccer is coming to Chattanooga as USL Division III today announced it has awarded a founding member franchise to an organization led by business executive Robert “Bob” Martino for the league’s 2019 debut season. In addition, the club has confirmed that it will host a public event in the coming months to unveil its overall vision for the future of professional soccer in Chattanooga.
USL Division III will deliver a longer season of top-tier professional soccer to Chattanooga soccer fans, along with generating heightened national media awareness for the community as part of a pro league. The club is expected generate up to 40 full-time jobs, plus event-related staff during home matches. Martino will lead a group of prominent and successful Chattanooga-based executives with extensive experience in growing the game.
“The professional USL Division III provides a great platform for Chattanooga to enter the highest ranks of soccer and further strengthens the Southeast region for the new league as we put the final touches on our exciting inaugural season,” said Steven Short, Senior Vice President of USL Division III. “Bob Martino and his team are seasoned executives with a strong vision for the future of soccer in Chattanooga. We share their vision for the city and look forward to working with Bob and his team as they bring the thrill and excitement of professional soccer to Chattanooga.”
“This is a fantastic opportunity and watershed moment for soccer fans in Chattanooga,” said Bob Martino. “This market has proven that it has the right ingredients to launch and sustain a professional franchise, and we are excited to take this next step into USL Division III for fans and the community. I applaud the existing grassroots support and passionate fan base already in place in the city, and I welcome the opportunity for us to work together to realize the great vision for professional soccer in Chattanooga. Our goal is to build upon the remarkable soccer history that has been created here, and establish a professional club of which both fans and our community can be proud – one that will make a lasting contribution to what makes this city great.”
Chattanooga has a long-standing and thriving soccer landscape, with the state of Tennessee boasting 50,000 youth players and 5,000 adult amateurs. It boasts a diverse population comprised of young families, with the median age of 37. Chattanooga is also home to Volkswagen Group of America’s North American manufacturing headquarters. The city and region are home to other major businesses such as BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Unum, Moon Pie, Little Debbie, Wacker Chemie, a major Amazon.com distribution center and a large T-Mobile call center.
The professional level USL Division III will provide passionate fans in new markets with a proven soccer experience. The league recently met with 11 local ownership groups in Atlanta to discuss details of the new 2019 season. Those ownership groups represent Chattanooga Pro Soccer, Toronto FC II (Toronto, Ontario), South Georgia Tormenta FC (Statesboro, Ga.), FC Tucson (Tucson, Ariz.), Greenville Pro Soccer (Greenville, S.C.) and Madison Pro Soccer (Madison, Wis.). The additional clubs will be announced in the coming weeks and months, as well as further details on the league’s competition structure. The league remains focused on positioning teams for long-term success by creating regional rivalries that deliver on-field excitement and leveraging a national media platform to drive awareness for each market.
Details to come will include team name, schedule, playing location, partnerships and more.