The United Soccer League (USL), the largest professional soccer organization in North America, today announced it’s partnering with locally-based USL Arkansas to bring the world’s most popular sport to the state for the first time. The partners plan to build a 5,000-seat multipurpose stadium in Rogers’ Pinnacle Hills entertainment district near Bellview and New Hope roads, with room to grow if needed.
“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.”
Papadakis credited USL Arkansas’ cofounders, Chris Martinovich and Warren Smith, with bringing the idea to life. Martinovich is a local health care executive and former United Soccer League player, while Smith helped create the San Diego Loyal Soccer Club in 2019.
“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,” Papadakis said. “We can’t wait to see the positive impact this club and their teams will have on the local community and beyond.”
Soccer’s popularity has long lagged in the U.S. compared to other countries, though industry experts see an upward trend in recent years. The U.S. Women’s National Team is the most successful team in the world, winning its fourth and most recent World Cup in 2019.
“The Northwest Arkansas Council is a strong advocate of USL Arkansas and believe the addition of professional soccer will be an incredible asset to the community by fostering an environment for sports and soccer fans alike,” said Marshall Saviers, the Council Executive Committee’s presiding co-chair and president of Cushman & Wakefield | Sage Partners. “Northwest Arkansas consistently ranks as one of the best places to live and work in the country, and this Club and league will help the region share its story nationally and internationally, helping drive tourism and attract new residents.”
Martinovich and Smith said they plan to build a club that can unify the region and reflect its unique spirit. Its teams will play in the USL Championship league, currently a Division II league with the U.S. Soccer Federation, and with the USL Super League, which is expected to be a Division I league.
“As a former player, I am delighted to bring professional soccer to Northwest Arkansas, a region that so richly deserves it,” Martinovic said. “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.”
Learn more at USLArkansas.com