For the first time in twenty years, Milwaukee will have a new professional outdoor soccer team representing the city, complete with a new home stadium currently under construction.
According to a recent announcement, Milwaukee Pro Soccer is set to join the second-highest tier of professional soccer in the nation, the United Soccer League Championship, by the year 2025. Just above the USL is Major League Soccer (MLS).
Justin Papadakis, the chief operating officer and chief real estate officer at USL, said, “This has been in the works for several years. And we knew that we had to do it in Milwaukee.”
Papadakis added, “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 new team will be the first professional Milwaukee soccer club since the Milwaukee Rampage, which played nine seasons between 1994 and 2002 in the A-League (the second-highest tier of pro soccer in the US at the time) until the team was ultimately disbanded.
Milwaukee Pro Soccer also launched a “Name the Team” campaign, asking members of the community to help come up with a name for the new club. Fans can go to the “Name the Team” website now and submit their ideas there. An official club name will be selected closer to the team’s debut, at which point fans will then help decide the team’s identity (i.e. the crest, the colors, etc.).
Additionally, a new stadium has been announced by developers Kacmarcik Enterprises and Bear Development, which will serve as the team’s home field.
“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,” said Jim Kacmarcik, chairman and CEO of Kacmarcik Enterprises, in a statement about the new project deemed Iron District MKE.
In a separate release, Chief Executive Officer of Bear Development S.R. Mills said, “Whether you’re traveling from the south or west of Milwaukee, we view Iron District MKE as a transformational gateway to the city that will serve as an asset to the Westown neighborhood and all of Downtown.”
The $160 million project was announced in May, and construction work is already underway. The entertainment development, which plans to stretch between 10th and North James Lovell streets in downtown Milwaukee, will include a 3,500-seat indoor performance venue run by Pabst Theater Group, an upscale hotel with 140 rooms, 99 affordable apartments in Michigan Street Commons, and of course, an 8,000-seat soccer stadium. Construction is set to complete by March 2024, and the stadium plans to open that same year.
“We hope that 20 years from now, when people talk about the Iron District and our pro soccer team, they talk about the positive impact we’ve had on the community as much as they talk about us hopefully having a winning record,” said Conor Caloia, CEO of Milwaukee Pro Soccer. “We view this as much more than a soccer club. We hope to build a community around the club and success for this project is really based more on having a positive impact in the community than it is anything else.”