United Soccer League starting third division, executives tour Macon

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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Macon already has a minor league hockey team and will soon have a summer league college baseball team.

Starting in 2019, Middle Georgians could have a minor league soccer team to root for.

The United Soccer League is creating a third division and sending executives on tours of cities across the country to scout possible franchise locations. Steven Short, vice president of USL D3 and Josh Keller, the league’s director of business development, visited Macon Wednesday.

USL has operated professional soccer for 30 years,” Short said in an interview at 41NBC. “We have a professional league operating with 30 teams in it. We’ve already announced expansion teams in Birmingham, Las Vegas, Fresno, Austin (Texas) and our team in Nashville will begin next season. We’re launching a next division that will operate just below that and really provide soccer to new markets and new fans.”

According to the league’s website, the USL “will target U.S. communities ranging in population from 150,000 to one million, representing more than 75 million people without access to a local professional soccer club” and will “focus on launching third-market clubs in markets that possess strong local ownership groups, populations with broad-based diversity, a vibrant millennial and strong family base, established corporate support, and stadiums to properly showcase the sport for fans, partners and the public.”

Short and Keller ate lunch downtown before holding “preliminary talks” with unnamed city officials. 41NBC reached out to Chris Floore, Macon-Bibb spokesperson, to see if the mayor was one of those officials. Floore said to his knowledge he was not.

Short and Keller were in Statesboro on a similar visit Tuesday. They’ll be in Huntsville, Montgomery and Mobile, Alabama next.

The league hopes to start play in March 2019.