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USL Professional Soccer Coming to NWA


Professional soccer is coming to Northwest Arkansas.

The United Soccer League (USL) today announced that a new group called USL Arkansas plans to bring pro men’s and women’s clubs to the region to play at a new stadium in Rogers.

The new 5,000+ seat stadium will be built near the corner of Lazy L Street and Bellview Road, near the Pinnacle Hills Promenade.

USL Arkansas is co-founded by Chris Martinovic, an executive with Arcadia Consumer Healthcare Inc. who played soccer in college at Seton Hall and professionally with an early version of the USL, and Warren Smith, a professional sports executive who recently co-founded the San Diego Loyal Soccer Club in 2019 with Landon Donovan.

“As a former player, I am delighted to bring professional soccer to Northwest Arkansas, a region that so richly deserves it,” Martinovic said in a press release issued this week. “I have seen firsthand the power of soccer in bringing communities together, and I am excited about the positive impact this club will have on our region.”

The USL was founded in 2010, and according to its website, has grown to become the largest professional soccer organization in North America. The USL runs several leagues, including the USL Championship, a U.S. Soccer Federation Division II-sanctioned league that currently features 24 teams that play a 34-game regular season from March-October each year. Teams such as the Louisville City SC, New Mexico United, Sacramento Republic, and Indy Eleven regularly draw more than 10,000 fans at their games, officials said.

“USL Arkansas represents a new chapter in the USL story,” said USL Deputy CEO and Chief Real Estate Officer Justin Papadakis. “Northwest Arkansas is a rapidly growing region with a vibrant community, making it the perfect location for this expansion. We have successfully partnered with Warren in numerous markets, and his experience coupled with Chris’ passion for his community are the perfect ingredients to create something special for this emerging region. We can’t wait to see the positive impact this club and their teams will have on the local community and beyond.”

The USL plans to launch its USL Super League, a professional women’s league currently seeking Division I sanctioning by U.S. Soccer, in August of 2024. That league will play a fall-to-summer schedule.

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Dustin Bartholomew is the co-founder of Fayetteville Flyer, an online publication covering all things news, art and life in Fayetteville, Arkansas since 2007. A graduate of the Department of English at the University of Arkansas and a lifelong resident of the area, he still lives in east Fayetteville with his son Hudson, daughter Evelyn, his wife Brandy, and his two dogs Lily and Steve. On occasion, he tickles the ivories in a local band called The Good Fear.

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