Professional soccer team coming to Chattanooga, some fans unhappy
UPDATE (August 8):
Chattanooga's new USL Division III soccer team has a new general manager & president: Sean McDaniel, the former GM of the Chattanooga Football Club.
“I love Chattanooga. I love soccer, and I’m honored to accept this opportunity to advance soccer in our community,” says McDaniel.
“Chattanooga’s renaissance and the rise of soccer are lockstep. The future of soccer goes beyond playing more games. It builds community infrastructure. More soccer draws more people, more resources, more businesses and more jobs - it’s an economic incubator itself.”
While Chattanooga has been home for decades, McDaniel started playing soccer when he was 6 years old in Florida and grew up watching the Tampa Bay Rowdies. He competed through high school before choosing Covenant College for its soccer program and Christian base as well as the area’s mountains and seasons.
McDaniel went on to coach youth soccer in Chattanooga and played for the Chattanooga Express, which had its last season in 1999. McDaniel is a founding member of Chattanooga FC, and led the club for six seasons.
A professional soccer team is headed for Chattanooga, and the local reaction is a mixed bag.
USL Division III announced Wednesday that the new team is expected to generate 40 full-time jobs, plus event-related staff during home matches. It will be led by business executive Robert "Bob" Martino.
"This market has proven that it has the right ingredients to launch and sustain a professional franchise," says Martino, "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."
USL Division III says the team will also host a public event in the coming months to discuss its vision for the future of pro soccer in Chattanooga.
The Chattanooga Football Club (CFC) shared their response to the news with us Wednesday:
"We are pleased that Chattanooga FC’s success has drawn national attention to our city, and we remain committed to keeping Chattanooga FC as Chattanooga’s homegrown team. Our club was founded for Chattanoogans by Chattanoogans, and, after ten years, we are dedicated to growing Chattanooga FC in a fiscally responsible manner from the grassroots up.
Professional soccer has eyed our incredible support in Chattanooga and now wants to enter our market. Chattanooga FC has grown organically, built a solid fan base, introduced the sport to kids and adults alike, helped launch a women’s team and hosted national teams from around the world. Chattanooga FC embodies the “Chattanooga Way” where we bring the community together who share our values to make the city a better place.
Our board is already working on plans for the 2019 season and we look forward to strengthening our bonds throughout the community during the off season."
The CFC has been a member of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) for the past 10 years.
News of the new team has brought some pushback from CFC supporters.
Others are voicing their support of the new team.
Depend on us to keep you posted as we learn more.