A professional men's soccer franchise is coming to Colorado Springs, and a proposed multi-use downtown stadium could be its eventual home.
Nicholas Ragain, president of Ragain Sports LLC, confirmed a United Soccer Leagues PRO team will move to the city. The team, which does not yet have a name, would begin play in March 2015.
A news conference is scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday at the Penrose House, 1661 Mesa Ave. That event was organized by the Colorado Springs Sports Corp., said its chief executive officer Tom Osborne. Others scheduled to attend include Mayor Steve Bach, franchise owner Martin Ragain and league president Tim Holt.
"You will have to wait until Thursday for all the details," Nicholas Ragain said.
That announcement is scheduled a day after the multimillion-dollar City for Champions project will be pitched to the Colorado Economic Development Commission in Denver.
The City for Champions proposal calls for a stadium to be built in southwest downtown Colorado Springs adjacent to a U.S. Olympic museum and 3,000-seat indoor arena in an effort to revitalize the area. Funds also would go toward a new Air Force Academy visitor center and a sports medicine center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
In January, Major League Soccer, which includes the Colorado Rapids, and USL PRO announced its franchises will sign affiliation agreements for player development by next season.
"In the soccer world, this will be a lot of fun for people," Osborne said.
The outdoor league averages 2,611 fans a game, not including the 20,886 at the championship Sept. 7 at the Florida Citrus Bowl. Other area stadiums could accommodate the average attendance, but scheduling could be difficult for a season that (March until early September) overlaps college and high school seasons. Most league stadiums seat 3,500 to 6,000.
"There aren't too many facilities on the Front Range we could move to and we definitely will be in Colorado Springs," Ragain said.
Martin Ragain is founder and part-owner of ME Engineering Inc., which specializes in designing lighting at stadiums around the world, including Sports Authority Field at Mile High. It will be his first sports franchise.
"It's been a lifelong dream of his," Nicholas Ragain said of his father.
The league will have 13 teams in 2014: Charlotte, Charleston, S.C.; Dayton, Ohio; Harrisburg, Pa.; Los Angeles; Orlando; Phoenix; Pittsburgh; Rochester, N.Y.; Richmond, Va.; Wilmington, N.C.; and new teams in Oklahoma City and Sacramento.
Two-time champ Orlando City announced it will be the fifth franchise to move up and join the MLS in 2015. United Soccer Leagues oversees nine men's and women's leagues including USL PRO and the Major Indoor Soccer League.