The United Soccer League has awarded a USL Championship franchise to a local investment group in Milwaukee, with the team to begin play in 2025 at a new 8,000-seat stadium.
The club will be led by local investors Kacmarcik Enterprises and Milwaukee Pro Soccer. The stadium will form part of the wider Iron District MKE sports and entertainment district.
Iron District MKE was announced earlier this year by Kacmarcik Enterprises and Bear Development. As well as the stadium, the district will include a 3,500-seat indoor concert venue, a 140-unit residential component, boutique hotel, and dining, nightlife and retail operations.
The Iron District stadium will also house Marquette University’s men’s and women’s soccer teams and lacrosse teams. Construction work on Iron District MKE is due to begin later this year.
The team, which does not have a name yet, will be the first professional outdoor soccer club in Milwaukee in more than two decades. Kacmarcik Enterprises is also a majority investor in Forward Madison FC, which plays in USL League One.
Yesterday’s (Wednesday’s) announcement comes after Marquette University in May sold an 11-acre parcel of land to Bear Development to build the new sports and entertainment district. The land was purchased by Marquette University in 2014 and 2015, and is located to the northeast of the Marquette Interchange.
Justin Papadakis, chief operating officer and chief real estate officer at the USL, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Milwaukee to the USL Championship and look forward to seeing the city’s vibrant soccer community fill their new stadium week in and week out.
“The Iron District MKE project is truly unique and transformative for the city, and we are proud that the USL will be a part of it. Based on what we’ve seen in Madison, we know the new Milwaukee club will be a top-tier soccer organisation, providing best-in-class facilities for its players, a world-class soccer experience for its fans, and a commitment to having a positive community impact.”
Jim Kacmarcik, chairman and chief executive of Kacmarcik Enterprises, added: “This is an announcement we’ve been working towards behind the scenes for years, and I’m thrilled to bring high-level professional soccer to the city of Milwaukee.
“Milwaukee is a premier sports city with a rich soccer culture that runs deep throughout our community. This club, and the entire Iron District MKE project, share an ambitious vision of making a positive impact on the city of Milwaukee, and we can’t wait to get started.”
The USL Championship is the second tier of the US game, behind Major League Soccer.